Plasma has been ceding ground to LCD for years, and the latest patches of territory at risk are screen sizes above 50 inches. Panasonic, both sheriff and principal resident of plasma town, has traditionally ruled the vast-sized flat-panel frontier with an iron fist, but with LCDs available in new 55-inch and, lately, 65-inch versions for competitive prices, the company has had to continually make its own big screens more affordable. The happy result, at least for HDTV shoppers with room to spare, is that larger models can be had for chunks of change that seem small by historical standards. And while the bigger sets in Panasonic's TC-PS1 series plasma might surprise you with their affordability, they also deliver better picture quality than most of their large LCD competition.
Panasonic's remote is quite good except for an unnecessarily prominent trio of keys--Viera Link, Viera Tools, and SD Card--that arc above the central cursor control. Each provides direct access to functions we'll warrant most users won't access frequently, and the trio relegates the more important, yet now-tiny, Menu key to a secondary spot near the top of the clicker. We like the feel of the keys, however, and the size, color, and shape differentiation helps us forget that none of the buttons is illuminated. The remote cannot control other devices via infrared (IR) commands, but it does allow some control of compatible HDMI devices connected to the TV via VieraLink (aka HDMI-CEC).
The TC-PS1 series delivered excellent picture quality, with deep black levels and realistic shadow detail, the former helping lend plenty of impact to colors. Color accuracy itself was an issue, as we've seen on previous Panasonic plasmas, but not enough to spoil an otherwise commendable performance. Speaking of previous plasmas, although we didn't have the TC-P42S1 we reviewed earlier on-hand to compare, as far as we can tell the picture quality of the two units was largely identical.