Panasonic Viera TH-42PX25U/P Plasma TV
By Ron Goldberg
Back at WCES around 10 years ago, a tiny New York-based research company called "Plasmaco" exhibited one of the first plasma monitors in the United States. We in the press looked on in amazement at the color and clarity offered by this small (perhaps 15-inch) monitor, and predicted big things for the company. Big was right—within months, Matsushita had acquired Plasmaco, and the Panasonic brand immediately became a player in plasma display technology. The company's latest line is the Viera series; the TH-42PX25U/P is the 42-inch model.
Stylishly presented in a curved metallic base supporting a black bezel, the Viera has the requisite "lifestyle" visual appeal and won't be a difficult sell from a cosmetic standpoint. Underneath this exterior is a full-featured 42-inch HDTV that includes an integrated NTSC/ATSC tuner and a CableCARD slot. Native resolution is 1024 x 768, and Panasonic claims a contrast ratio of 3000:1, with a tiny pixel pitch of 0.9mm horizontal by 0.67mm vertical.
In terms of feature set, the TH-42PX25U/P is designed to be a complete TV solution. It comes equipped with a multi-speaker audio system aided by a feature Panasonic calls ViVA HD3D sound, which uses BBE technology. Connectivity options are nicely up to date on this set. In addition to two component video inputs, there is also an HDMI port, three S-video connections and inputs for three composite sources—not that your customers will be using too many of these any time soon. An RGB input for a PC and a set of front-panel connections (audio and video) are also included.
One unusual feature of the TH-42PX25U/P that bears mentioning is a built-in photo viewer. Flip down the front panel underneath the screen and you'll find slots for SD and PC cards. A menu option lets you display and navigate pictures directly from the memory card slot; the user thus is not required to hook up the camera or download to a PC to view digital photos on the set.