Updated 06-26-2007: Of Panasonic's 2007 plasma lineup, we've reviewed three models so far this year: the TH-42PX77U, the TH-50PX77U and the TH-42PX700U. If those model numbers don't mean much to you, relax. We'll take you through the company's 2007 plasma lineup from least- to most-expensive, and when we can't give actual reviews we'll provide our take on step-up features and how the models relate to one another.
This is Panasonic's entry-level plasma series. We haven't reviewed any of these sets, but they should offer similar picture quality to the step-up TH-PX77U series--which we have reviewed. The big omission is the lack of antiglare screen coating, but if you don't consider glare a big deal, or your room has good light control, you might be able to save yourself about $100 by going with this series.
Models (all prices are retail prices)
- 1,024x768 native resolution on the 42-inch model
- 1,366x768 native resolution on the 50-inch model
- Two HDMI inputs
- SD card slot
- Bottom-mounted speakers
We've got the TH-PX77U series covered, with full reviews of both the 42-inch TH-42PX77U and the 50-inch TH-50PX77U. In terms of design and features, the only differences between these and the entry-level TH-PX75U series are the side-mounted speakers, which add about two inches of width, and the antiglare screen coating. The antiglare coating might not sound like much, but we found it did a great job of reducing reflections in rooms with ambient light, without reducing image quality. Otherwise the feature set is nearly identical to the TH-PX75U series.
- Antiglare screen coating
- Side-mounted speakers
This is Panasonic's second-most-expensive line of plasma displays. What do you get for about $1,000 extra bucks? More resolution. There aren't any significant feature upgrades in this line, except all three models feature a native resolution of 1,920x1,080, also known as 1080p. We really liked the picture quality of the 42-inch model we reviewed and felt it produced a cleaner picture than the lower-resolution 77U series, but for the 42- and 50-inch displays you'll need to sit quite close to the screen to appreciate the difference of the extra resolution. When we reviewed the 1080p TH-50PF9UK directly against the 1,366x768 TH-50PH9UK, for example, we found it nearly impossible to see any additional detail at a normal viewing distance. It's a harder call on the 58-inch set, so we'll hold off until we get that in for review.
- 1,920x1,080 native resolution on all three models
We haven't reviewed any models in Panasonic's flagship TH-PZ750U series, but there's only a couple differences, according to the spec sheet, between this and the PZ700U series, which costs about $500 less. That extra cash buys you a third HDMI input, located on the front panel, along with Studio Reference and Pro-Setting picture modes, which are designed to provide improved picture quality for movies and extra picture adjustments, respectively. We didn't find the picture adjustments on the 700U series quite as extensive as we'd like, so we're looking forward to reviewing a 750U model to test the new controls. On the other hand, we believe viewers with budgets would be best served by saving some cash and going with a step-down model.
- Third HDMI input on front panel
- Studio Reference mode
- Pro-Setting mode
In addition to these models, Panasonic also offers its popular line of "professional" plasma displays. The displays lack some consumer-friendly features like speakers, but offer better picture adjustment options, which ultimately lead to better picture quality. We've reviewed two models in Panasonic's 2006 "professional" plasma line: the TH-50PF9UK and TH-50PH9UK. Panasonic's 2007 line of "professional" plasmas likely will be announced in September.