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TH42PX70 Operation & Control

by Colin Tang
21 March 2007

When powered up for the very first time, the Panasonic TH42PX70 greets you with a quick 3-minute autoscan for DVB and analogue channels. This is followed by password and TV ID setting, which you can skip and set at a later date. The last welcome screen gives three introductory picture modes – Dynamic, Standard and Cinema. I don't need to tell you which one I picked; we will cover this later in our Picture Quality section.

The manual includes a warning about static images, image retention and permanent screen burn, which are not covered by manufacturer's warranty. While most plasma veterans will be comfortable with minor image retention in a plasma screen's early days, such as what we experienced with the TH42PX70, beginners should pay close attention to the following points during the plasma's initial operation for a few hundred hours.

  • Avoid prolonged static images being displayed anywhere on the screen, including logos and menu bars, idle computer images...etc.
  • Avoid watching shows in pillar box or letterbox format. Use the zoom or change film aspect ratios to get rid of them.
  • Using grey side masks or panel can reduce screen burn risks in pillar boxed format, but try not to get in that situation in the first place.
  • Don't use excessive contrast level setting in the early days.
  • Image retention is temporary and can disappear quickly with uniform screen grey out or snow images.
TH42PX70 Main Menu
The Viera Main Menu

The TH42PX70 menu is reduced to the essentials and doesn't offer the options and flexibility that we're used to compared to our recent models. This may suit some buyers who will be looking for a TV that is easy to use and looking great right out-of-the-box with very little tweaking.

Picture Menu
Picture Menu

Delving into the Picture Menu, we find standard picture controls with only two extra picture adjustments, colour management and P-NR (picture noise reduction). I was disappointed to find that the slider control had no numbers or guide to easily communicate settings to someone else or remember them by. Are we supposed to memorise the length of slider bar, or count how many buttons is it away from the centre? (I'm doing the latter now) Besides the navigation disaster, the sensitivity of the controls were crude and did not allow finer adjustments to the picture. Feedback from the remote was not 100 percent as I found myself 'tripping' occasionally on some controls and registering unintended double presses.

Be careful when you approach the [Reset to Default] button, it doesn't ask for double confirmation so your settings can be wiped out if you accidentally press [Select].

Another drawback of this display is the lack of independent memory inputs for source. It can, however, store the setting in the three modes mentioned earlier, so this is the best way to keep your settings over different sources.

Setting Menu
Setup Menu 1
Setting Menu
Setup Menu 2

The setup submenu contains your basic panel maintenance options, which are covered in the manual. Of note, the side panel lets you choose how grey your side masks will be in pillar boxed format. The EPG below looks a little better than some, with channels and programmes well compartmentalised and structured for easy reference. It lacks a channel preview but you can select the info button on the remote for a quick summary of the programme. The TH42PX70 does not come with a Picture-in-Picture mode but it does include a freeze frame option. It was very useful to me when taking photos for this review but I'm not sure if the average user is going to get a lot from it.

Electronic Programming Guide
Standard EPG

 

Remote Control   Remote Control
Buttons galore
 
Slim curvy back

The semi-universal remote control is overflowing with large keypad and VIERA Link control buttons. The navigation control ring is curiously placed high at the top of the remote, which is not where your palm generally rests. It has standard rubber buttons with passable tactile feedback and so menu navigation wasn't the best experience on offer. To its credit, it was relatively light with a slim contoured back for good handling and balance. From the remote, you can access the aspect control giving you a whopping 7 choices of aspect ratio.( Auto, 16:9. 14:9, 4:3, Zoom 1, Zoom 2, Zoom 3). For your information, VIERA Link is Panasonic's one remote solution to integrate different Panasonic home theatre products.

A cool feature my colleague discovered recently is that the panel auto detects the HDMI input and switches over when the disc player is activated. I don't know if this works on every player but it sure does on our Toshiba HD-E1.

Plasma buzzing is an inevitable phenomenon of the display technology. I found the TH42PX70 buzzing to be tolerable but this always comes down to personal preference and auditory sensitivity. The high frequency buzzing increases slightly with higher APL (average picture level) or image brightness or if the plasma screen has been in use for some time. Neither bothered me when sitting 8 feet away with the volume at steady, normal levels. If you are super-sensitive to noise, try to get a home audition for your new plasma HDTV.

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