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Panasonic PT-WX42 review: Panasonic PT-WX42

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The Good 47-inch, 16:9, HDTV-capable rear-projector; 480p and 1,080i display capability; Progressive Scan Doubler; Cinema Scan with 3:2 pulldown; 3D Y/C comb filter; two-tuner PIP; low price.

The Bad Color decoder oversaturates reds; convergence was off.

The Bottom Line If you want a digital big-screen TV when cash is tight, here's your boy.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

The Panasonic PT-47WX42, with its $1,999 MSRP and an online price as low as $1,300, brings digital TV on a big screen even closer to the realm of "affordable." The PT-47WX42 projects a good-looking picture and includes just about everything you could ask for in an HDTV. It won't match the performance of many higher-end sets in this size range, but it's still a very good value. Set on a standard-sized pedestal, this top-heavy 47-incher looks like a little big man. The plastic finish is dark gray, and the pedestal has black speaker cloth on the front. Two speakers are set into the base. Front controls and inputs, including S-Video, are hidden under a flip-open door directly below the screen.

The PT-47WX42's remote is a backlit universal model that's fairly quick to work with the thumb, though its clutter of small buttons is a little confusing. Panasonic's rudimentary onscreen menus won't win any international design competitions, but they get the job done. As an HDTV-ready television, the PT-47WX42 can show the most common HDTV format (1080i) when connected to a separate, external HDTV tuner. It also reproduces the 480p picture from a progressive-scan DVD player. An onboard scan converter digitizes all other incoming signals and displays them as 480-line progressive-scan video (480p). That process adds information to the picture and also removes the visible scan lines that can be so obvious on analog rear-projection sets. The scan converter has 3:2 pulldown to help eliminate artifacts created in the transfer of film to video.

Rounding out the performance features are three color temperatures (Warm/Cool/Normal), a 3D Y/C comb filter for cleaning up composite signals, and selectable Scan Velocity Modulation. The audio system has two speakers driven by 10 watts of amp power each and sound modes that include AI Sound and BBE enhancements.

A two-tuner PIP is on hand, offering split-screen viewing or a scalable smaller inset window. PIP will display images from component, S-Video, composite, and RF inputs. The PT-47WX42's back panel includes four composite, three S-Video (one front), two broadband component video, and two RF inputs. Unfortunately, it's missing the copy-protected DVI input found on some other HDTVs this year, so it won't connect to forthcoming DVI-equipped, Hollywood-sanctioned HDTV receivers. We began testing by setting the color temperature to Warm, turning the Velocity Scan Modulation to Off, and putting in the Video Essentials disc to see how the set comes straight from the factory. After adjusting the brightness and contrast, we measured the grayscale and found that it looked fairly good, with a touch of blue in the brighter panels. Light output was impressive for a rear-projector--those 7-inch CRTs can throw a lot of light on a screen this size.

Setting the color was not so straightforward. Proper adjustments left the reds highly oversaturated, so we had to back down the adjustments further. We've seen this on other Panasonic sets, and unlike with some TVs, a professional calibration won't help the PT-47WX42's color decoder.

Convergence has a great bearing on the sharpness of images on a rear-projector, and it is not a parameter that handles shipping well. We found that to be the case here, with the three CRT guns shifted out of alignment. There are two convergence adjustments, a single crosshair and a nine-point adjustment, but they helped only minimally. We needed a professional to optimize this set.

Off-axis viewing was also what we'd expect from rear-projectors: the image showed shifts of brightness if the viewing angle was too far from the center line--both left, right and up, down.

Once the set was set up, the desert scenes in The Scorpion King looked fair, showing a full spectrum of reds, browns, flesh tones, and blacks. All of our observations came to bear here: improper convergence added softness to the image, and the reds seemed flat and lacked subtle gradations. The clarity and detail that we've seen on this disc using other players just wasn't there.

The over-the-top, color-saturated animation of Monsters, Inc. can make any TV look good. The brightness of the CRTs really came through here, and the image looked solid in the Cinema Scan mode. The colors of the purple-and-blue fur and green skin of the monsters were good but lacked some pop.

Let's face it--at this price point, this set can't deliver world-class performance. Even so, it has the features and big picture necessary for a highly satisfying theater experience in your home. Except for the color decoder, many of its faults can be corrected with calibration.

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