Panasonic Viera TX-P42G10 Freesat HD TV
Plasma provides pacy picture precision
Review It was a smart move by Panasonic to time its recent ad campaign to coincide with the French Open and Wimbledon tennis season. Indeed, tennis is certainly the sort of sport that highlights benefits of the company’s 600Hz ‘intelligent frame creation’ technology used in its Viera NeoPDP televisions.
Panasonic's Viera TX-P42G10 plasma HD TV
The technology was first introduced last year as a way to improve the smoothness of moving images in fast-motion sports programmes. Panasonic has now extended the use of this feature to its latest crop of plasma screens, including this 42in Full HD model, which is currently the cheapest and smallest model in its G10 range. Panasonic quotes a price of £1199 for the P42G10, but you can pick it up for about £850 on-line – stacking up well against comparable LCD models.
We should point out, though, that Panasonic’s model-numbering scheme is deeply confusing – especially when you realize that there’s a G10 series of LCD screens as well. However, it’s only the plasma models that boast the 600Hz option, so it’s important to check the specifications of the various G10 models to ensure you get the right one.
The P42G10 looks fairly straightforward when you lift it out of its box. The glossy black bevel and silver trim is neat and unfussy, and we confess that we were rather tickled by the section in the manual entitled Maintaining Your Shiny Bits. The back panel doesn’t make such a good impression, though, as the various ports and connectors sit in the middle of some rather ugly bare metal plating. You won’t spend much time looking at the back panel, of course, but some cosmetic improvements wouldn’t go amiss here.
There’s a good selection of connectors, kicking off with Panasonic’s, now standard, Freesat HD tuner. Those without a satellite set-up can use the conventional TV tuner that can receive both analogue and Freeview digital channels. Three HDMI interfaces are available for connecting additional video sources, along with two Scarts; component-, composite- and s-video; and a VGA connector for a computer – although we opted to use one of the HDMI ports for some tests with our trusty Mac Mini.
Socket sets: Ethernet interfacing is reserved for future Freesat services
Audio support is good too, with a stereo audio input and output, a headphone socket conveniently situated on the left-hand edge of the unit, and a digital audio output with support for Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. There’s also a CI slot for top-up TV services, and an SD slot memory cards so that you can watch photo-slideshows.
Having just bought a G10 I was very disappointed with the brightness of the screen. I thought it was me until I wired up my previous 5 year old Hitachi Plasma alongside. The G10 was about 30% less bright. What on earth have they done to this set? Mine will be going back.
There is no point in mentioning the price if the cost of running it is ignored. Panasonic claim 200W, so if it were to be switched on 24*7, it would cost about £200 per year to run, with electricity costing a typical 11 pence per unit (kWh). More normal usage might be 4 hours per day, in which case it would cost £33 per year to run. Claimed standby current is only 0.3W, so a negligible 30 pence a year, if you cannot be bothered to switch it off at the mains.
Panasonic have no equivalent LCD device, but the running cost of a Freeview Panasonic 42" TV is nearer £20.
The motion handling on this set is terrible.
As previously mentioned we have flickering, judder and poor black levels.
Putting 600Hz on the ticket is one of the most cynical marketing gimmicks I have ever seen a company do and all because there are manufacturers out there with 100 and 200Hz actually trying to use this technology to improve a customers experience.
What Panasonic are doing here is nothing more than the good old con trick. They must be thinking 'our customers are so stupid lets feed them this 600Hz marketing spin and make a few bucks out of those who know no better'. I would advise people to really re-consider Panasonic as a brand after this debacle and reviewers would do well to run thorough tests on all manufacturers sets rather than listening to product managers who (unsurprisingly) will say absolutely anything in order to shift their products.
With all due respect, we didn't simply copy the waffle off Panasonic's marketing brochures for this review. We spoke to the product manager for the G10 range at Panasonic and our first question was - "what's the point of 600Hz refresh if the original signal only refreshes at 50Hz".....
Panasonic specifically told us that the set does indeed perform some interpolation. Its internal processor generates multiple frames for each frame in the original signal, and then attempts to select the frames that best display the trajectory of fast-moving objects, such as a tennis ball.
So while the image that you see on screen is still only 25 frames per second, some of those frames are Panasonic-interpolated frames. It's possible that they were lying through their teeth, but at the end of the day we did think that it performed well with sports programmes (and less well with bog-standard talking-head SD content due to the relatively poor scaling - a bit of interpolation and upscaling might help there too...).
Sorry to be a pain but this needs mentioning,
the reason that it's only the Plasma sets which have a 600 Hz model is due to the reason behind 600Hz, ie Sub Field Decay.
essentially a plasma pixel is unable to kee the same level of brightness for the 1/50 of a second a TV frame is broadcast for. This can be seen on cheap sets as a shimmer on screen.
in order to keep a steady level of brigtness the plasmas use Sub Field refreshing each field 12 times per field (ie 12x50 +600Hz) think of it like stirking a match initially bright then fading often, so the set stikes lots of matches (LCD is like a torch so constant brightness). However it's just the same frame so no creation meaning it won't give a noticable benefit for motion!
It so happens that as it happens so many times a second it's a frequency and can so be called Hz, so a clever marketing company could confuse people to help grow market share.
The best sticker I've seen on a TV was on a Samsung with had "600Hz" massively promotedwith "sub field decay" very small, then below "100Hz" motion mentioned.
gotta love it!
this could be seen to be a conspiracy if it wasn't so obvious!
also I'm a bit shocked that the writers of this review didn't point this out, isn't this exactly the kind of thing ElReg is meant to expose?