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TH42PZ70B Design & Operation

by Vincent Teoh
1 November 2007

Unlike the previous generations of Panasonic plasma televisions, the TH42PZ70B ships with its pedestal stand (not pre-attached therefore assembly required) inside the box, making the whole package bulkier. The panel itself is heavy even when compared to plasmas of similar size, but to lessen the burden Panasonic has kindly added a couple of recessed handgrips at the back of the TH42PZ70B.

The Panasonic TH42PZ70B screen is framed by a "flavour-of-the-year" glossy black bezel that is further padded by a pair of finely perforated speaker grilles on both sides. The bottom edge of the bezel arches slightly upwards to reveal a metallic grey strip with a concave- forward surface that accommodates the master power button, LED indicator and remote control sensor.

Front View Of TH42PZ70B

I am not sure if the front glass that makes up the screen was treated with anti-glare coating, but reflected light did look slightly muted compared to some plasmas and Samsung's Super Clear Panels. That said, do not be lulled into thinking that you can dispense with ambient light control: you will still see reflections especially in areas on screen where there are no opposing light output (i.e. darker areas).

Except for the plasticky side door (that covers some input ports), general build quality on the Panasonic TH42PZ70B is very high in terms of construction and finishing, exuding the same kind of robustness we usually see on Panasonic's commercial plasma offerings.

Connections

Intended to be a "watered-down" sibling of the more expensive PZ700 range, the Panasonic TH42PZ70B features only two HDMI 1.2 inputs rather than the now-customary three HDMI 1.3 found on recent HDTV models I've reviewed. A neat touch on the TH42PZ70B that I've also observed on the PX70 is how the plasma would automatically switch source when a device (e.g. DVD player and PS3) connected to HDMI input 1 is turned on (and off).

Within the side compartment there is an SD slot which allows you to view photos on the Panasonic TH42PZ70B, but unfortunately I couldn't test how well it works as I don't have any SD card.

Connection Panel
Rear: 2 x HDMI, VGA, component, 2 x Scarts, analogue audio, RF aerial & CI slot

Side Connections
Control Buttons
Side door opens up to control buttons, headphone out, S-video, composite & SD slot

User Menu

The on-screen menu for TH42PZ70B is basically the same as those implemented across Panasonic's 2007 range of LCD TVs and plasmas, and so manifests similar drawbacks:

  • No white balance adjustment for greyscale calibration.
  • Settings are not independent per input, but are tied to the four picture modes ([Auto], [Dynamic], [Standard] and [Cinema]).
  • No numerical guide when changing values of individual options: you'll have to count how many clicks to the left/ right using the slider bar.
  • Easy to accidentally delete your settings, because a single push of a button is all that is needed to reset a picture mode to factory default... there was no warning message asking you to confirm your action.

In other words, the user menu on Panasonic TH42PZ70B will appeal to viewers who wish to keep things simple, but not to serious tweakers. In any case, manoeuvring around the menu and channels is a painless process because of the quick response to a remote key press.

Main Menu Picture Submenu
Main Menu
Picture Submenu

Sound Submenu Setup Submenu
Sound Submenu
Setup Submenu

By setting the [Picture Overscan] option in the [Setup] submenu to "Off", you can achieve zero overscan, and – with a 1080 source – 1:1 pixel mapping. This option is only available when aspect ratio is set to [Auto] or [16:9], and can be adjusted independently for SD and HD content. With the former you're more likely to see interference at the edges of the image so I usually only reserve [Picture Overscan] "Off" for high-def material.

EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)

EPG

The EPG on Panasonic TH42PZ70B is aesthetically very attractive because of the pin-sharp text and good use of complementary colours. Functionally I have very little to complain, but I would've preferred if I didn't have to click twice to watch a programme (a selection window would pop up asking you to choose between [View] or [Timer Programming]).

Remote Control

The remote control for TH42PZ70B sports a familiar layout to all other recent Panasonic HDTV remotes, with its well-sized buttons, clear labelling and a navigation ring which is curiously placed beyond the natural position of the thumb near the top of the remote. Its solid body weight and definitive tactile feedback (buttons that "click" satisfyingly into the down position) do give it the feel of a premium product. However, the signal receiver for the remote appears to have a narrow sensing field, so you may have to point more precisely near the bottom left corner of the panel to get your click through.

Infrared Remote

The red power button at the top right corner of the remote needs to be held on for a couple of seconds before the Panasonic TH42PZ70B will switch on/ off. Just beneath, an [Aspect] button allows you to choose one of the seven aspect ratios available, of which [Auto] does not function as well as we would like it to: sometimes aspect ratio would be inadvertently changed even within the same programme.

Below the blue button you will find the key to freeze the picture on screen, which turned out to be quite handy for taking photographs of broadcast material. A cover at the bottom of the remote flips away to expose – among others – some buttons you can use to control your VCR or DVD player.

Background Noise

In addition to the common plasma buzzing that intensified as the screen got brighter, the Panasonic TH42PZ70B also emitted some fan noise from the four ventilation ports at the back. From a sitting distance of 8 feet away from the television however I was never truly bothered by these background noise.

Back To: TH42PZ70B Review

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