THX, Internet content grace Panasonic plasmas

Panasonic's G10 series of plasma TVs steps up the feature ladder by offering THX Display Certification and VireaCast internet content.

The G10 series is Panasonic's least expensive set to offer THX Display Certification. Panasonic

Last year, our Editors' Choice plasma, the Panasonic TH-50PZ800U, earned a good portion of its praise by virtue of excellent color accuracy, which we lay at the feet of THX Display Certification . For 2009, Panasonic has included THX in two series of plasma TVs, of which the most-affordable will be the G10s.

The company's G10 series of plasmas comes in four screen sizes. The 42-inch TC-P42G10 ($1399 street), the 46-inch TC-P46G10 ($1699), and the 50-inch TC-P50G10 ($1999) will ship in March, while the 54-inch TC-54G10 ($2,399), a new screen size for the company, will ship in May.

THX Display Certification consists of a series of hurdles the TVs must clear to earn the all-important THX logo. While we're generally pretty skeptical of a certification program that refuses to divulge the height of those hurdles--aside from vaguely mentioning that they include certain minimum specifications for contrast ratio, color gamut based on the HDTV standard, uniformity, viewing angle, gamma, and still picture resolution--in our tests of the PZ800 and other THX plasmas from LG delivered improved color accuracy, at least.

Update March 13: According to the Panasonic manual unearthed by the folks at AVS Forum, and later confirmed by Panasonic, the G10 models will have 24p compatibility; previously, Panasonic indicated that the feature would be reserved for the step-up V10 and Z1 lines. According to Panasonic, the G10 and G15 lines will refresh at 48Hz, which leads us to suspect that they'll suffer from the same sort of flicker seen on the 24p modes of last year's PZ800U and PZ850U models. The V10 and Z1 lines, however, will refresh at 96Hz, which shouldn't introduce flicker. We'll know for sure when we get the displays reviewed.

New for 2009, VireaCast gets Amazon Video on Demand. Panasonic

Panasonic's answer to other TV makers' Internet connectivity is called VieraCast, and new for 2009 the company is adding the capability to view content from Amazon Video on Demand. We'd like to see Netflix streaming added too, a la LG , but that's not in the cards so far. Check out our hands-on look at VieraCast for details.

The G10 series also incorporates all of the picture quality enhancements as the less-expensive S1 series . Its NEO PDP panel, in addition to using half the power of previous panels, offers improved contrast ratio that should contribute to deeper black levels. There's also 1080p resolution, for what it's worth.

Like all Panasonic plasmas, the G10s have "infinite black," which means the sets essentially shut off during entirely dark scenes. The company, in an obvious effort to compete against "Hz"-happy LCD makers, is touting a "600Hz sub-field drive." Here's our effort to staunch consumer confusion: ignore this feature. It basically means plasmas have very good motion resolution , but as usual, it's very difficult to discern the difference for most people. The company is using the same antireflective filter as last year for all of its plasmas.

The step-up V10 line includes the same features of the G10 models plus Digital Cinema Color.

 

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