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TH42PH9 Plasma Review Conclusion
- Reference-level blacks and shadow detail
- Near-perfect greyscale tracking and colour decoding
- Excellent handling of standard definition content
- Superb viewing angle (>150°)
- Reflectivity especially during daytime and low-light scenes
- Oversaturated primary colour points against HD 709 standard
- No stand, speakers or TV tuner included
- Image retention and risk of screen burn during first 200 hours
In the frenzy of all the recent "1080p full HD" marketing push, it's easy to forget that resolution comes after contrast ratio and colour saturation in terms of overall contribution to picture quality. The Panasonic TH42PH9 is a perfect demonstration of this: while it loses out a tad in sharpness and detail, its picture quality still triumphs over all other HDTVs we've reviewed so far courtesy of its black levels, shadow detail, greyscale tracking and colour decoding. The Sharp 42XD1E was neck and neck with the TH42PH9 in these aspects with the added advantage of accurate primary colours, but in the end the plasma's massively superior viewing angle, digital noise suppression and standard definition handling shaded it for us.
Despite all these advantages, a decision to buy the Panasonic TH42PH9 should not be undertaken lightly. It does not come with stand, speakers or tuner so make sure you budget for these. Care is needed to prevent screen burn especially during the first 200 hours; and some will be put off by the plasma's reflectivity and image retention issues.
But if you're a home cinema purist who values picture quality above all else (convenience, connectivity, etc.), and if you believe – like most audiophiles do – that 'separates' are better than all-in-ones, then the TH42PH9 must be on top of your shopping list if you're looking for a 42" flat panel within the £1000 to £1200 price bracket.
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