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Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series (photos)

Panasonic's TC-PG20/25 series offers a highly tempting mix of features, value and initial picture quality, but long-term black level performance is still an open question.

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David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

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1 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series overview

Panasonic's TC-PG20/25 series offers a highly tempting mix of features, value, and initial picture quality, but long-term black level performance is still an open question.
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2 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series corner detail

Basic black is the order of the day for the understated G20/25 series.
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3 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series stand detail

The only departure is a subtle horizontal accent strip in the midst of the lower frame, running above the slightly curved bottom edge. The circular base of the swivel stand is rendered in the same glossy black as the panel.
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4 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series side view

The 3.5-inch panel depth is chunkier than the 2010 plasmas of LG and Samsung, but plenty "flat" enough in our book.
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5 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series remote

The company uses an improved clicker compared to 2009, with more backlit keys and a larger "Menu" button, and we appreciate the well-differentiated layout. Its only downside in our view is an inability to control other gear directly via infrared.
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6 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series back panel inputs

Two HDMI inputs on the back panel might not be enough for elaborate home theaters.
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7 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series side panel inputs

A third HDMI is located on the side. Few TVs have an SD card slot nowadays, but we'll warrant even fewer viewers care.
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8 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series VieraCast home page

Here's a look at the revamped VieraCast internet service interface. Just about every TV maker has Netflix, and when Panasonic turns on this feature in July it will join the ranks of "good enough" streaming. We'd still like to see the excellent picture quality of Vudu's HD service, found on many other makers' TVs, available too, but Amazon VOD has solid high-def picture quality in its own right. DLNA won't be missed by most buyers, and it's nice to see Pandora onboard to handle audio duties. New widgets include Fox Sports and Twitter, as well as a Skype option (all coming by the end of May 2010).
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9 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series VieraCast customization screen

Our favorite change is that the home page can be customized somewhat, allowing you to place the apps and streaming services you want on the first, second, or third page in any of seven slots arranged around the central picture window. Most other TVs' Internet service interfaces, aside from Vizio and Yahoo widgets, don't let you rearrange content to the same extent.
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10 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series Bloomberg app

The full-screen Bloomberg app is a feast of business information.
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11 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series anti image retention menu

Watchers paranoid about burn-in (we aren't) will appreciate the scrolling bar designed to erase it, and the pixel orbiter intended to prevent it in the first place.
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12 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series main picture menu

We appreciate that, unlike on LG's so-equipped TVs, Panasonic's THX mode can be adjusted.
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13 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series 48Hz mode

The 48Hz option promises 1080p/24 compatibility, but introduces unwatchable flicker.
14 of 14 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series picture quality

The TC-PG20/25 delivered excellent overall picture quality. Deep black levels were a strength, color accuracy was very good in THX mode, and the typical uniformity advantages of plasma over LCD--excellent off-angle fidelity, uniform brightness and color across the screen--were in abundant evidence. The main hiccup we encountered was the inability to handle 1080p/24 content properly.

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