One of the big advantages of plasma compared to LCD and LED-based TVs has nothing to do with off-angle viewing or picture uniformity--it centers on simple bang for the buck. The S2 series from Panasonic offers plenty of said bang, with mostly solid picture quality and none of the extra frills you might not want to pay extra for. On the downside, we'd have liked to see a few more picture tweaks, and people with bright rooms with no light control will want to think twice before drafting an S2--as will those worried about the 2009 black level debacle. Even with those caveats, however, the Panasonic TC-PS2 series remains a great value among flat-panel TVs.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 46-inch TC-P46S2, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
|Models in series (details)|
|Panasonic TC-P42S2||42 inches|
|Panasonic TC-P46S2 (reviewed)||46 inches|
|Panasonic TC-P50S2||50 inches|
|Panasonic TC-P54S2||54 inches|
|Panasonic TC-P58S2||58 inches|
|Panasonic TC-P65S2||65 inches|
|Panel depth||3.7 inches||Bezel width||2.1 inches|
|Single-plane face||No||Swivel stand||No|
Panasonic's designers wrapped an equal-width, glossy black bezel around the top and sides of the screen that grows in width and adds a slight curve along the bottom. To differentiate it from the other TVs in the company's lineup, they textured the gloss to resist fingerprints (it works) and set off the bottom of the bezel with a subtle bluish accent. The matching black stand doesn't swivel. Overall we like the understated look well enough, but it won't elicit many oohs or ahhs from the crowd.
|Remote control and menus|
|Remote size (LxW)||8.5 x 2 inches||Remote screen||N/A|
|Total keys||47||Backlit keys||0|
|Other IR devices controlled||No||RF control of TV||No|
|Shortcut menu||Yes||Onscreen explanations||Yes|
We like Panasonic's remote, with its medium size and well-spaced and -differentiated keys. Its only downsides are lack of illumination and an inability to control other gear directly via infrared. The company has updated its blue-and-yellow menus to include onscreen explanations and a persistent navigation column of icons on the left, and as a result they feel more modern and are easier to use than last year, if not quite up to the level of a Sony or Samsung.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||plasma||LED backlight||N/A|
|3D compatible||No||3D glasses included||N/A|
|Screen finish||Glass||Refresh rate(s)||60Hz|
|Dejudder (smooth) processing||No||1080p/24 compatible||No|
|Internet connection||No||Wireless HDMI/AV connection||No|
You'll notice plenty of red ink in the chart above, as befits a mainstream-priced TV model. If you want streaming video and widgets in a Panasonic plasma, you'll need to pay extra for the TC-PG20 series.
|Adjustable picture modes||5||Independent memories per input||Yes|
|Dejudder presets||0||Fine dejudder control||N/A|
|Aspect ratio modes -- HD||5||Aspect ratio modes -- SD||4|
|Color temperature presets||3||Fine color temperature control||No|
|Gamma presets||0||Color management system||No|
|Other: On/Off "Blur reduction" setting|
Unlike most other makers Panasonic omits fine color temperature and gamma controls from its midline models, leaving the S2 series with a paucity of picture tweaks. Tweakers will, however, note the new-for-2010 "blur reduction" setting described thusly: "Improves motion picture quality. Additional subfields are created to reduce motion blur." See Performance for details.
|Power saver mode||No||Ambient light sensor||Yes|
|Picture-in-picture||No||On-screen user manual||No|
|Other: Two modes to combat burn-in|