Plasma in Steps Page 2

Panasonic TH-42PX50U

Entry-level plasma intrigue


The Short Form
PANASONIC.COM / 800-211-7262 / $2,700 ($3,000 LIST) / 41.875 x 27.5 x 3.875 IN / 76 LBS
•Crisp HDTV and DVD picture. •Clean video processing of standard TV programs. •Wide array of picture adjustments.
•Expensive. •Limited shadow detail with some programs. •No built-in HDTV tuner or speakers.
test bench
Fujitsu's P55XHA40US displayed 720p-format HDTV programs at full resolution and delivered the most accurate color with its -3000K color-temperature preset selected. A slight green imbalance was easily corrected using its Color Focus feature. Full lab results
Panasonic has been at the plasma game longer than most companies, and its experience is proven out by a long string of solid-performing HDTVs. Its newest 42-inch model, the TH-42PX50U, is part of the company's budget-minded Viera line. While lacking the slick, sculptured looks of the company's high-end Onyx sets, it's still cool enough with its black-bordered screen and silvery bottom-mounted speakers. There's no handy front or side-panel A/V input for connecting a camcorder or game console, but that's a feature most people can live without.

Yet Panasonic didn't cut out all the extras when designing the TH-42PX50U - it comes with a built-in HDTV tuner and a CableCARD slot for directly tuning digital cable channels, premium stations and all, without an external box. The set also includes a table stand that's reasonably sturdy given its plastic construction. The remote control's big buttons and fully backlit keypad make it a breeze to operate in a dark room. You switch inputs by hitting the TV/Video button and scrolling through an onscreen list of sources (unused connections can be turned off in the setup menu). Pressing the Aspect button lets you toggle through the four display modes. You can watch HDTV only in the Full (16:9) mode.