First Look: Panasonic TC-P54Z1
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First Look: Panasonic TC-P54Z1

3:08 /

Panasonic's flagship TC-P54Z1 plasma sails far beyond most buyers' price range, but the yacht enthusiasts who can afford it will enjoy superb picture quality and style in a wireless package.

^M00:00:01 [ Music ] ^M00:00:03 >> Hi, I'm CNET's David Katzmire and I'm here with Panasonic's TCP54Z1. This is the company's most expensive plasma TV for 2009, it's also the thinnest plasma ever made. If you look at it from the side you can see the panel itself is only about an inch thick. That does help contribute to this panel's high cost. It's not available in any other screen size except 54 inch but that size is plenty big as you can see right here, for most living rooms at least. Styling on this TV is also pretty distinctive, it's all silver as you can see here and there's kind of a burnished metal above and below the screen. To either side of the screen it's actually black which makes the TV appear wider than it is, this black strip cover is not active screen, it's just kind of a black border and then on this model there's speakers to either side but of course those can be removed for your installation. Another claim to fame on this TV is the wireless capability, this little box over here actually sends all the AV signals wirelessly to the television itself so you can hook all your gear up to the box, say in a component rack across the room and it can shoot the signals from all that gear right to the TV. There's really no loss in quality, we noticed some slight issues but over all you can walk in front...in between the signals path and you can also get some pretty good range out of this TV don't expect to go more than one room away, so all told the wireless system does work pretty darn well. Talking about inputs, this TV does have the standard array there's four HDMI on the box, three on the back, one in the front, two component video inputs and a PC input again available on the front panel which also has an SD card slot here. Another nice feature is that the remote is RF which means that you don't have to aim it anywhere at the TV or all you got to do is have it in the same room and it will control the box and of course you can also control connective devices via the HDMI protocol built into this box and TV. Other features include the viera cast system which allows the Panasonic to go out and grab content from Picasa, Amazon video on demand and YouTube among other places, including news and weather but it doesn't feature the 2010 version of viera cast which includes NetFlix and a couple of other features, the jury's still out whether they will offer that update on the Z1. Picture quality on the Z1 was excellent, it's among the best we've tested this year, that characteristically deep black levels on this Panasonic plasma are among the best we've seen. TV also has pretty darn good color, you can go into the menu and adjust a lot of the picture parameters adjustments that aren't available on lower end Panasonic plasmas. Video processing does feature the 96 hertz refresh rate which allows the TV to properly reproduce [inaudible] from Blu-Ray and all told there is very little to complain about. We also like the fact that in a brighter room this TV does reduce reflection to preserve black levels better than previous Panasonic plasmas including 09 models so that's an improvement we hope extends to the 2010 line. It's also worth noting that we have heard complaints about Panasonic plasmas losing black level points over time, we haven't seen any of that ourselves and you can read the full review if you want to get a little more detail on that issue. That's a quick look at the Panasonic TCP54Z1 and I'm David Katzmire. ^M00:03:07

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