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Panasonic TH42PZ85B Review

by Vincent Teoh
14 April 2008

Hot on the heels of the TH42PX80 HD-ready plasma television I reviewed just last month, the Panasonic TH42PZ85B – boasting their Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) and 24p Real Cinema technologies in addition to full HD native screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 – is now widely available from all major electronic retailers in the UK. At a later date Panasonic will release their PZ80 range of true HD plasma HDTVs which, while cheaper, are deprived of IFC and 24p Real Cinema. In this review of the Panasonic TH42PZ85B, I shall (among other things) examine the effects of these features to see if they are worth the extra cost.

Update 25 March 2010: The Panasonic TH42PZ85B has been discontinued. If you are looking for a current plasma model, consider the Panasonic TX-P42G20B.

Design

To introduce some distinct styling to the rather ubiquitous glossy black bezel of Panasonic TH42PZ85B, their designers have inserted a silver-coloured protrusion resembling part of a flying saucer just beneath the panel, which houses a pair of TV speakers. Those of you concerned about this spoiling the aesthetic of the TH42PZ85B need not have worried: from the front this simply looks like a subtle silver trim.

TH42PZ85B protrusion with speakers
Picture of silver protrusion on TH42PZ85B containing the TV speakers

Turning our attention to the back of the Panasonic TH42PZ85B, there are 5 cooling fans located near the top of the panel. In actual use these fans collectively generate a slight whirring background noise in addition to the customary luminance-dependent plasma buzzing, but from a sitting distance of 6 feet away this should be adequately masked by normal TV sound volume.

Cooling fans on Panasonic TH42PZ85B Recessed handgrip
TH42PZ85B cooling fans pic Recessed handgrip

A couple of recessed handgrips near the bottom at the rear of the panel will help immensely in handling/ lifting the 30kg flat screen plasma HDTV. The body of the Panasonic TH42PZ85B tapers in depth at the sides, giving the impression of a slimmer profile. The standard of build quality and finishing is very high, which is characteristic of Panasonic plasmas since the TH42PZ70.

Just like the TH42PX80, the Panasonic TH42PZ85B comes with a separate wedge-shaped pedestal stand inside the box, which requires assembly and sports a gloss black coating. However, the TH42PZ85B one feels more solid and does "swivel", although to achieve this the entire base of the pedestal needs to be turned.

Connections

Whereas all three HDMI inputs on the TH42PX80 are positioned at the back, on the Panasonic TH42PZ85B one can be found on the left side compartment which fortunately is pretty well-recessed so you should have no difficulty hiding your HDMI cable out of sight. If a media device (e.g. a DVD player) is plugged into the [HDMI 1] port, the Panasonic TH42PZ85B will automatically switch source every time you turn the device on and off.

Rear inputs on Panasonic TH42PZ85B
Rear: 2 x HDMI, VGA, component, 2 x Scarts, CI slot, aerial, audio outs

Side connections Control buttons
Left: HDMI, Svideo, comp, headphone Right: control buttons, SD card slot

Operation

The on-screen user menu, EPG and infrared remote control on the Panasonic TH42PZ85B plasma HDTV are essentially the same as those found on the TH42PX80 I tested just last month. Of course, there exists an option in the [Setup] submenu to engage [Intelligent Frame Creation], Panasonic's latest motion compensated frame interpolation (MCFI) technology.

As demonstrated in the video above, activating [Intelligent Frame Creation] appeared to increase the refresh rate on screen (the flicker present in the video was not visible to the naked eye). If you're confused about the "24p Real Cinema" technology touted on Panasonic's brochures, it simply refers to frame interpolation of 24p material, and should kick into action when you apply [Intelligent Frame Creation] to 1080p/24 video signals.

4.5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended

 

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