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Panasonic TH42PH9 Setup & Design

by Vincent Teoh
24 February 2007

First things first - the Panasonic TH42PH9 doesn't ship with any accessories. Make sure you plan in advance and order the stand or wall mount too, or else the panel will be forced to sit uselessly in its box, or leaned against the wall with a real risk of sliding down and shattering into pieces.

While you're at it, buy the appropriate terminal boards at the same time, depending on the sort of devices you're going to connect to the Panasonic TH42PH9. The default 1 x VGA, 1 x composite and 1 x S-video port are hardly going to be adequate for the average consumer; in any case you shouldn't use the latter 2 as their inferior analogue signals won't do justice to your high-definition plasma tv.

The reason for buying all these accessories simultaneously is to avoid the embarrassing scenario of having to dismount the panel from its stand/ wall mount to install new terminal boards that arrive on a later date. Surely you'd prefer to get it all done in one go, sit back, relax, and enjoy the picture.

With that in mind, we placed an order for a Panasonic TH42PH9, a TY-FB8HM HDMI terminal board, and a TY-ST08-S silver plasma tv stand (the black TY-ST08K was out of stock)... and received 3 separate boxes the next day.

The box containing the Panasonic TH42PH9 plasma screen was the largest, measuring 112 x 70 x 35 (cm). There were clear instructions on the top and sides of the box correctly advising that it should transported upright – a horizontal position would place too much stress on the fragile glass which is all too easily cracked by any small bump on the road. Near the base of the box, 4 white detachable plastic latches secured the liftable outer walls in place.

warning latches
Handling instruction on box
Detachable plastic latches

We wasted no time in opening up the package and inspecting the panel. Taking the concept of minimalism to the extreme, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is simply a large piece of thick dark glass framed by a professionally finished charcoal-grey heavy duty plastic... were it not for the brand name embossed below the centre of the screen, and the power LED indicator and microscopic model inscription at the bottom left.

It was also then that the TH42PH9's Achilles' heel hit home – we could clearly see our surrounding in this dark mirror. Despite the anti-reflective coating touted in Panasonic's brochure, there was not much improvement compared to other plasma manufacturers when it comes to reflectivity, a factor that has been known to drive consumers away from plasmas and into the embrace of matte black LCD screens.

Turning our attention to the back, we were immediately impressed by the "ear handles" appended onto the top right and left of the panel, which provided better grip during lifting. This thoughtful design – alone – made moving the Panasonic TH42PH9 an easier process even when compared to the lighter Samsung LE4071BX.

handle input
"Ear handle"
Hot-swappable input slots

The downward-facing input connections are housed within a recessed compartment near the bottom of the panel. Originally sporting only meagre composite, S-video and VGA ports, there are 2 empty hot-swappable slots where you can insert terminal boards ala computer PCI cards. For most consumers, the most obvious choices would be the HDMI board (TY-FB8HM) and component board (TY-42TM6Z) which costs about £120 each.

Frankly we would've preferred a black pedestal swivel stand to complement the dark grey panel; instead we had to settle for a silver one which thankfully did not stick out like a sore thumb as we initially feared. Assembly was easy enough following the concise 1-page instruction sheet that came with the stand.

We then installed the HDMI terminal board into Slot 2 of the TH42PH9 (tip: hold the panel upside down on a soft surface so that you can insert and secure the board from above), and – paying no heed to proper instructions (you're supposed to lay the plasma face down on a flat and soft surface then fix the stand) – lowered the panel onto the finished swivel stand.

The stand proved to be a solid foundation for the panel, and the swiveling action was smooth yet controlled when done using when the aforementioned "ear handle". Sitting quietly on top of our TV stand, the whole set oozed industrial robustness often missing from their domestic counterparts.

Manual

Alongside a warranty card and customer feedback card we found the 48-page A4-sized operating manual for Panasonic TH42PH9. It was extremely easy to read and understand, with detailed (and occasionally illustrated) explanation of each customisable feature.

manual cards
Operating manual
Registration cards

The only qualm we had with the manual was how little warning was given to notify TH42PH9 owners on the very real risk of screen burn and the necessary precautions to prevent it. Plasma TVs – even the latest generation – are extremely susceptible to screen burn during the first 200 hours of their use. If still images (e.g. BBC logo, Sky logo, paused movies) are displayed for prolonged periods, the phosphor compound in certain areas of the screen will age faster than others, eventually resulting in a permanent ghost-like image dubbed "screen burn" or "phosphor burn-in".

With the latest generation plasmas, the phosphor compound stabilises after 200 hours, after which screen burn becomes much less of an issue. So as long as proper care is taken during the first 200 hours, screen burn can be avoided totally allowing you to enjoy your high-definition plasma tv.

(On a side note, it's precisely because of phosphor stabilisation that calibration of plasmas is best reserved until after 200 hours of use, unless you have some instruments at hand and don't mind repeated calibration.)

The only warnings about screen burn (curiously labelled as "after-image") in the TH42PH9 manual were on the bottom of page 2 masquerading as a footnote, and on page 44 in the 'Troubleshooting' section together with a disclaimer stating that screen burn is not covered by the warranty. "After-image" was also mentioned in the 'Screensaver' section, but as far as we're concerned the warning should be plastered in big bold letters throughout the whole manual, especially considering that the Panasonic TH42PH9 ships in the screen-burn- inducing 'Dynamic' mode by default.

Back To: TH42PH9 Review

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