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Panasonic TC-P42U2 Plasma HDTV Review

42 in.

In its favor, the Panasonic TC-P42U2 is pretty inexpensive for a plasma.

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Blacks & Whites

Blacks & Whites Summary
Editorial Note: This is a review of the Panasonic TC-P42U2. Test results are for this model, but should indicate the general performance of other sizes in the TC-PxxU2 series. The TC-PxxU2 series includes the following models: TC-P42U2 and TC-P50U2.  Read here for more details on series differences.
{{article.attachments['Panasonic-TC-P42U2-vanity.jpg']}} • Great black level, terrible peak brightness • Struggled to maintain consistent black level • Testing done using DisplayMate Software
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Black Level*(9.11)*


The Panasonic TC-P42U2 produced very good black levels, all the way down to 0.06 cd/m2. That's not the best we've seen from a plasma, but it's quite good. Note, however, that the Samsung LN40C630 is an LCD screen and nearly matched the Panasonic, and far exceeded it in contrast ratio.  (More on how we test Black Level.)

Black Level
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Compare the Panasonic TC-P42U2 to other HDTVs
{{article.attachments['Sony-KDL-40NX700-vanity.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Samsung-LN40C630-vanity.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Toshiba-42ZV650U-vanity.jpg']}}
Sony KDL-40NX700 40 inches Samsung LN40C630 40 inches Toshiba 42ZV650U 42 inches

 

Peak Brightness*(6.02)*


The Panasonic TC-P42U2 is a plasma display, and as such it suffers from the same brightness problems as many plasmas. Their whites simply don't get as white as an LCD display. One look at at the chart below shows how it compares against three LCD TVs.  (More on how we test Peak Brightness.)

Peak Brightness
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Contrast*(7.71)*


The Panasonic TC-P42U2 had a decent contrast ratio, but the poor showing in the peak brightness test hurt the overall score. The Samsung LN40C630 and the Sony KDL-40NX700 both topped it easily. Even watching a movie or TV with the naked eye can tell you the same story. The Panasonic TC-P42U2 is best viewed in a dark room – it looks great. But if you're like the rest of us and the bulk of your viewing takes place in an illuminated room, it can appear washed out. (More on how we test Contrast.)

Contrast
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Tunnel Contrast*(5.31)*


The Panasonic TC-P42U2 clearly struggled with the Tunnel Contrast test, which measures how well a TV can maintain consistent black levels as more and more of the screen is consumed by bright white. Typically, LCDs do well on this test while plasmas struggle. The Panasonic TC-P42U2 struggled, then choked. As you can see from the chart below, when a black patch occupied less than 30% of the screen, the black level got brighter, continuing to rise as the patch gets smaller. This means that when patches of black appear on an otherwise bright screen, they'll appear more grey than black. (More on how we test Tunnel Contrast.)

Tunnel Contrast
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White Falloff*(6.72)*


There was less of a problem with the Panasonic TC-P42U2's ability to maintain white levels. The whites are never that bright, even at their best. At their worst – when surrounded by mostly black – they get a noticeably dimmer, but it's not nearly as much of a problem as the Tunnel Contrast test. (More on how we test White Falloff.)

White Falloff
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Uniformity*(10.0)*


The Panasonic TC-P42U2 did not have any problems with screen uniformity. Whether the screen was white, or black, or simply showing a movie, we saw no problems with dark or bright corners, blotches, or unevenness. (More on how we test Uniformity.)

 

Greyscale Gamma*(10.0)*


The Panasonic TC-P42U2, for all its flaws with maintaining a consistent black level, scored a near perfect in the greyscale gamma test. The chart below shows how the TV transitions from shadows to highlights. First, we're looking for smoothness. In this case, it's excellent. There are few squiggles in the line, indicating that it's not tripping up in any particular portion of the greyscale spectrum. Secondly, we see no flat, horizontal stretches in the line, which indicate areas where the TV simply can't see any differentiation. Frequently, you'll see some flattening in the lower-left port of the line, which is the shadow details. Finally, there's the slope of the curve. An ideal curve is between 2.1 and 2.2. The Panasonic TC-P42U2 had a slope of 2.1. Well done. ( More on how we test Greyscale Gamma.)

Greyscale Gamma
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Other Models in the TC-PxxU2 Series
This is a review of the Panasonic TC-P42U2. The other sizes of HDTVs in this series should be similar in terms of performance and usability. For details about any differences, click on the image to jump to the Series Comparison page.
{{article.attachments['Panasonic-TC-P42U2-120.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Panasonic-TC-P50U2-120.jpg']}}
Panasonic TC-P42U2 42 inches Panasonic TC-P50U2 50 inches
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Tour & Design
  3. Blacks & Whites
  4. Color Accuracy
  5. Motion
  6. Viewing Effects
  7. Calibration
  8. Remote Control
  9. Connectivity
  10. Audio & Menus
  11. Multimedia & Internet
  12. Power Consumption
  13. Vs Sony KDL 40NX700
  14. Vs Samsung LN40C630
  15. Vs Toshiba 42ZV650U
  16. Conclusion
  17. Series Comparison
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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