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Panasonic TH-103PF9 review: Panasonic TH-103PF9

The Panasonic TH-10PF is an absolutely huge plasma screen -- 103 inches. Very few will be able to afford it, but for the hi-def jet set it's a great alternative to buying a projector for a home cinema, with excellent picture quality, natural black levels, pleasing brightness and good contrast

Alex Jennings
3 min read

Usually when you see truly ridiculously large screens being exhibited at technology shows, you know they're just examples of macho brand posturing that will never actually go on sale. But not so with Panasonic's TH-103PF9 monitor.

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8.3

Panasonic TH-103PF9

The Good

It's stupendously huge; pictures are remarkably good for their size; it's massive; it's well-featured; did we mention that it's really, really big?.

The Bad

£50,000 price tag; vast weight makes it a nightmare to install.

The Bottom Line

We frankly had our doubts that even the best HD pictures would still look good on a plasma TV as huge as this. But remarkably they frequently look great on the Panasonic TH-103PF9. Shame, then, that probably nobody reading this will be able to either afford or accommodate one

This 103-inch plasma beast is actually available to buy in the UK. Provided, that is, you've got the small matter of around £50,000 burning a hole in your pocket.

Strengths
Not surprisingly, the thing we like most about the TH-103PF9 is simply its truly gargantuan screen size. To give you some kind of handle on just how big this really is, its screen acreage will accommodate four 50-inch TVs and still have a few inches left over.

Obviously such a massive picture won't suit your average living room. But there's a definite case for using one instead of a projector in a dedicated home cinema room, since it gives you the same picture size as a typical projector, without the need for complete darkness.

What's more, since the 103PF9 directly produces its own light rather than reflecting light off a screen as happens with a projector, we found that it produced levels of brightness and contrast that few, if any, projectors can compete with.

The 103PF9 pleasingly sports many of the same technologies and image-processing tricks found in Panasonic's far smaller plasma models and as a result our high-definition sources withstood the journey up to such a monstrous size remarkably well.

In fact, if anything, the magnitude of the 103PF9's screen simply emphasises how great HD video is. The screen carries a 'Full HD' resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, with the facility to map 1,920x1,080 sources directly to those pixels. And in this configuration we guarantee your jaw will hang open at the sharpness, detailing and clarity with which the screen shows HD sources.

With natural colours and black levels thrown in for good measure, the experience while watching an HD film really is akin to being at the cinema. Or if you happen to be playing an HD game on your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, well -- let's just say that 50 grand suddenly feels like the best second mortgage you've ever spent.


Weaknesses
The 103PF9's biggest positive, its sheer size, is also ironically its biggest negative -- partly because of the sheer unlikelihood of most households being able to accommodate it and partly because it makes the thing phenomenally tough to install. During our tests it took five men and a special crane to get the 220kg behemoth into position on its stand. And that was on the ground floor. If you've got any stairs to negotiate, or want to wall mount it, then heaven help you.

The £50,000 price is also clearly a major stumbling block. Few of us would ever be able to contemplate spending that sort of money on anything less than a house.

Other more prosaic problems with the 103PF9 include the fact that it doesn't come with any TV tuners built in. This is probably quite a predictable shortcoming, actually -- given its inevitable mercilessness with revealing any flaws in standard-definition sources, and the occasional tendency of orange or green tones to slightly over-dominate the colour palette.

Conclusion
If you need to ask how much the Panasonic TH-103PF9 costs, you can't afford it. But if you really are a lucky son of a gun with the spare cash and vast space needed to take on a 103PF9, then rest assured that it offers a really quite remarkable alternative to buying a projector.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire

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