Panasonic TH-PX25U review: Panasonic TH-PX25U

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The Good Sleekly styled; high resolution; above-average black-level performance; color decoder's red push can be corrected; built-in CableCard and HDTV tuner.

The Bad Lacks 2:3 pull-down for film-based material; no independent input memory; can't accept 720p signals.

The Bottom Line This high-resolution plasma has great style and lots of features, but its picture isn't as impressive as we expected.

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6.6 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6


Panasonic has consistently made some of the best-performing plasma panels over the years, but the TH-42PX25U/P isn't quite up to past efforts. Don't get us wrong; this is one slick-looking TV with a nice feature package and excellent connectivity. It also has higher resolution than the excellent TH-42PD25U, and its picture trumps that of many other 42-inchers. However, it lacks an important video-processing circuit common to almost all other high-def displays, and its black-level performance isn't top-notch. So unless you watch a preponderance of HDTV, plan to use it as a computer monitor, or are willing to pay extra for its clear cosmetic advantages, the TH-42PX25U/P isn't as good a value as its lower-resolution cousin.

Panasonic also makes an industrial version of this panel with different styling and fewer features, dubbed the TH-42PHD6UY. It should offer identical picture performance.

The TH-42PX25U/P is virtually identical to its predecessor, the TH-42PX20UP. The only difference is the addition of a CableCard slot and a built-in HDTV tuner. This review modifies the review of the TH-42PX20UP to reflect those changes.

Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.

The TH-42PX25U/P is perhaps the most attractive Panasonic plasma ever to grace our lab. Its ultrasleek high-tech design is sure to please even the most discerning interior decorator, let alone your average couch potato. A 3-inch bezel surrounds the screen, and its black color--as opposed to silver--lends additional impact to the picture.

A flip-up door below the center of the screen houses the front-panel inputs and some of the panel's key function buttons. The door also conceals a 15-pin VGA input for computer use, an SD memory card slot for digital picture viewing, and a PC Card slot to accept other types of digital camera media.

Despite the high price of this panel, the remote is virtually identical to those found on standard Panasonic TVs. It's sleek and fairly well laid out and has illuminated keys. The internal menu system is also identical to the one on Panasonic's consumer TV line and is reasonably intuitive in its navigation and use.

The TH-42PX25U/P includes a CableCard slot--making the set digital cable ready--and a built-in HDTV tuner. These features enable you to view digital cable and over-the-air HDTV without a separate set-top box. As with all CableCard-equipped HDTVs, you'll need to order pay-per-view movies via phone, and you won't be able to use the cable company's video-on-demand or electronic program guide (EPG) functions.

Although billed as an "HDTV plasma display," the TH-42PX25U/P's native resolution of 1,024x768 is not technically high enough to earn it that status. (True HDTV starts at 1,280x720.) However, its resolution is significantly higher than that of less expensive EDTV models with 852x480 pixels, such as the TH-42PD25U/P. Keep in mind that you'll notice increased detail only when watching HDTV or computer sources; standard TV and DVD do not benefit from the TH-42PX25U/P's high native resolution.

Unlike 1,024x1,024 panels that use ALIS technology, such as Sony's KE-42XS910, each of this Panasonic's pixels is a discrete physical unit, which helps improve black-level performance, among other things. The TH-42PX25U/P can display most signals and scale them to fit its pixels, with one notable exception. Its component-video and HDMI ports can't accept a 720p signal, so if you want to use them to pass HD, the external source will have to convert 720p material, such as ABC and ESPN, to 1080i.

The TH-42PX25U/P's feature package is quite comprehensive. Two-tuner picture-in-picture heads the list, and the SD memory card slot for digital picture viewing is also uncommon among plasmas. Unique to Panasonic is the panel's PC Card slot, also located on the front panel. There's an NTSC tuner onboard to connect to an antenna and some cable systems.