I bought the Panasonic Viera 42 inch screen plasma television last year and I would say that it has been one of my better purchases.
It is a very sexy set when wall mounted. Sleek, thin and stylish it becomes a very pleasant feature of your living room.
This television falls in a mid price range, retailing at between £400 and £700 depending on where you buy it and how good your haggling skills are.
It comes in any colour you like as long as it`s black, but black is good. It provides a good contrast with white walls (I`m biased of course coming from Newcastle!). It is really thin (less than 5 inches wide). It obviously comes with a remote control unit which is a little too big in truth.
The picture quality on this set is excellent, as is the sound quality. It is extremely easy to tune as it has an auto-tune option. It has a child lock menu, is HD compatible and has digital tv installed as standard.
This is a very user friendly tv with simple to operate timer options and an easy to use programme guide which can be used to view several channel listings at once or can give the full evening`s viewing for a particular channel with the press of a single button.
In summary, I`d recommend this product to anybody as it is excellent in all categories.
My fiancé and I have been wanting a plasma TV for a while now... more so for vanity than as a necessity as our 32 inch sharp CRT TV was working perfectly fine and as we have so much other stuff to pay for (decorating things for the house like a new bathroom suite, tiles, carpet for the stairs, landing and bedrooms etc as the list goes on and on plus trying to save up to get married without having to get into loads of debt) so to me, buying a new TV wasn't really top of our priorities list; although my fiancé was desperate to get one.
Lucky for him, our TV blew up last night whilst we were watching it; I'm still sure he's secretly happy that it happened though. Poor timing on the TVs part as we're desperately trying to get the bathroom items bought so we can get our new combi boiler heating system put in as we currently have a wet room that will become unusable once the flooring is taken up to lay the pipes... not to mention the fact that Christmas is now less than 3 months away. Anyway, as per usual I digress.
We've been looking at different websites; pricing up different Panasonic models and seeing what the feedback on these items are online. We wanted to go for Panasonic because they seem to be the leaders in plasma technology, plus my sister has one and has no complaints whatsoever about that one, which is always a good start. We thought that since we're going to be making such a big purchase, we may as well get the best we can 'afford' rather than buy a cheap one to make do with and then have to buy another one not too far down the line.
Well, we finally decided on this model as although there have just been some newer models released, it's still one of the most recent ones in their range and is actually very reasonably priced considering it's full 1080p HD and a massive 42 inches in size; this model also comes with a pedestal/stand included. We picked it up today and had it set up very quickly and with great ease, surprisingly.
To attach the screen to the pedestal was actually no problem at all, the only thing we needed was a Phillips screw driver and the ability to lift the screen (as it is quite heavy) onto 2 metal bits that keep the parts together - I'm sorry I don't know the technical term but if you were rude minded you might think they looked like some kind of metal sex toys that were definitely not for the faint hearted. If you think you may have problems lifting the screen then please get somebody to help you as this is a big purchase that you wouldn't want to break before you'd even got it set up.
Once on the metal 'sex toys' you can see just how impressive the TV looks even when not turned on, its glossy black frame and pedestal look incredibly stylish - and it comes with a cloth to keep the black gloss glossy and not full of dust and fingerprints. I was worried about what the silver 'bow' bit at the bottom was going to look like at first as I thought it may stick out like a sore thumb against the black and thus detract from the look of the TV; however it looks fine, in fact for the most part it looks like it's just a shiny bit of the black reflecting the light in our room. This may or may not be the case for you too but I can tell you that it doesn't look hideous either way. The silver bow bit is home to the power button (which is REALLY easy to push in, so suitable for people who have pain in hands/fingers due to arthritis or other illnesses) a flip up bit of plastic that contains an SD card reader slot, AV3 terminals, headphones jack, HDMI 3 slot, and volume/channel/TV/AV/function (contrast etc) select buttons.
The manual was informative and easy to understand (both in explanation and the fact that it was all English so no turning a page and seeing French like with some manuals I've had), and so the TV was turned on and tuned in via 'Auto Setup' within a few minutes.
The moment we had been waiting for was about to arrive... the quality of the picture on the screen. At first, the picture wasn't as mind blowing as I'd first imagined it would be, but a quick tweak with some of the settings soon sorted this out and we were faced with clear, crisp, high quality images. We don't have Sky HD, only Sky+ but this in itself gave a much better image than we were accustomed to with our old CRT TV. We have started off in cinema viewing mode which is apparently the best one to start with until you can get online and check to see the best custom settings (usually available on the likes of AV Forums) which we have yet to do. There is also an option to have a password and your names on the TV which is a good idea for if it gets stolen, but I guess isn't going to stop anybody breaking into your house and taking it in the first place. I'm not sure if this only asks for the password if you unplug it though as it doesn't seem to ask just on turning the TV on and off via the power button on the front.
There are so many functions on this TV that it would be long and boring for me to list them when they're available anyway when you look on the manufacturers' website anyway. I will point out that it DOES have PC input available though, as I think there was some confusion as to if this model had this feature or not.
It is wall mountable, however we will be having it on a new high gloss black sideboard (once it arrives tomorrow) as it's currently perched on our old stand for the Sharp CRT which doesn't look too bad but it's certainly only a temporary measure.
Shortly after setting up, my fiancé decided it was time to get the Xbox set up to see what the proper HD gaming experience was like; this is what he'd been waiting for if I'm honest. After a bit of fiddling around, connecting things up, he put the Xbox on and it said '480i wide' which confused us so we asked a friend who told us we needed to switch something on the Xbox over to HD and then go on the Xbox dashboard system settings and change it to whichever setting you required. It wouldn't let us change to 1080p, only 1080i so again we went back to the friend who said it may be because we were using it on component rather than a HDMI channel which made me remember that I'd bought a HDMI lead a while back so it could be worth trying that. It was only a cheap one, but I was told that there's not that much difference between spending under £10 and going for a more expensive one so it probably wasn't worth spending loads on one for a small difference in quality. Anyway, we connected it up and sure enough it came onto full 1080p high definition.
The picture was instantly better than we were used to when starting up Call of Duty 4... everything was much more defined and seemed more 3D than on the CRT. Rich was more than impressed whilst playing the game and was actually gushing over the different aspects in the game 'ooh look at that fire, isn't it good' and 'god it's so much better, just look... isn't it more 3D' etc etc and was much the same when he put on Fifa and GTA IV. A good term to describe him would be like a kid at Christmas, he was so excited about it - bless him!
We keep reading about the sound quality not being that great, but we can't see a big problem with it. The sound is ample for what we need and is a million times better than our old television. Obviously if you have surround sound speakers and then listen to this model without it, it will sound worse but I think with the surround sound speakers added it would be absolutely fine; although we're using the television without which is also fine for us.
Apparently the TV gets better after 60 hours of viewing as this is the 'warm up' period but I think it looks great anyway, we have had it almost a week now but not sure if we have racked up 60 hours of watching yet.. so if it's only going to get better then that is a bonus as we are already over the moon with it.
All in all, the TV is of amazing quality both in build and picture and I feel we have made a good decision in buying this brand and model. It cost us £759.99 at Empire Direct and came with a free 5 year warranty as it was on a Panasonic promotion which I think has just ended. You can get it cheaper at John Lewis at £759.. or get them to match Richer Sounds at £729 as JL TVs come with a free 5 year warranty automatically but you may be hard pushed to find them in stock as soon as they come in, they sell out again and that's why we had to get it from Empire Direct and pay just a little bit more. I've also just heard that Currys may have it at £699 so maybe you could get John Lewis to match them too. The prices are coming down as the new models are out so keep an eye out for great deals.. or snap one up at the current price as it's still a decent price for what you get!
I hope I have given you enough information on this product, I'm not a techy person when it comes to TVs (PCs are my forte) so have just given my opinion as a girl in setting it up and the actual picture quality. x