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Panasonic TH-PD7UY review: Panasonic TH-PD7UY

Panasonic TH-PD7UY

Kevin Miller
5 min read
Panasonic TH-42PHD7UY
We've been fans of Panasonic's "industrial" plasmas since they were first introduced, and we're not the only ones. These bare-bones, all-picture plasmas consistently top the most-popular lists of online plasma retailers because they don't make you pay for stuff you (as an enthusiast) won't use: namely speakers, a tuner, a gaggle of inputs, and a fancy remote. The TH-42PHD7UY, Panasonic's latest 42-inch high-resolution industrial plasma panel, has a picture that's head and shoulders above its "consumer" 42-inch cousins, such as the TH-42PX25U/P, and demonstrably better than virtually all of its competition in the 42-inch size category. We say "high-resolution" because despite having more pixels than the otherwise-identical EDTV TH-42PWD7UY, this plasma doesn't have enough resolution to display every pixel of true HDTV (then again, no other 42-incher does). If you can get over the lack of inputs and add-ons, the TH-42PHD7UY is hands down the best value in high-resolution 42-inch flat-panel TVs.

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.


Panasonic TH-PD7UY

The Good

Accurate color decoder with no red push; solid video processing with 2:3 pull-down; excellent black-level performance; independent memory per input.

The Bad

Limited connectivity options included; basic and industrial in its design; not big on consumer features; no aspect-ratio control for HD sources.

The Bottom Line

This industrial model is far superior to Panasonic's consumer panels and an excellent value, and it offers best-in-class performance for the 42-inch category.
The design of the TH-42PHD7UY won't win it any awards, but it is an industrial model, so we don't expect too much in the looks department. It is remarkably clean looking: mostly glass surrounded by a dark-gray frame. Since this panel is strictly a monitor, there are no speakers, although you can purchase optional matching speakers.

Panasonic does include a stand for tabletop installations, and, of course, an optional bracket is available for wall-mounting purposes. Measuring only 40 by 22 by 3.5 inches (WHD) and weighing 64 pounds, the TH-42PHD7UY will fit just about anywhere.

The remote is small, simply laid out, and easy to use. The GUI, or internal menu system, is also quite basic and straightforward. Other than picture controls and some advanced picture controls in the advanced menu, there really isn't much to it.

As we mentioned at the outset, this Panasonic's 1,024x768 resolution is what sets it apart from EDTV-resolution plasmas of the same size. Those extra pixels mean more detail with computer and high-def sources (more info). Of course, the TH-42PHD7UY can display just about everything you throw at it, including standard TV, VHS, DVD, and high-def.

Surprisingly the TH-42PHD7UY does offer PIP and POP for keeping tabs on more than one program at a time. Other than that, it has a 4X Zoom mode that splits the screen into zones and allows you to magnify the images up to 400 percent. As far as picture-enhancing features, it has the all-important 2:3 pull-down for the elimination of motion artifacts with film-based video sources (DVD movies). The panel offers three aspect-ratio selections with computer sources and four (plus one autodetect mode) with standard video and progressive-scan DVD, but unfortunately, it can't change aspects with high-def sources.

Otherwise, the TH-42PHD7UY is essentially featureless. In addition to shipping sans speakers, it lacks a built-in tuner of any kind, so you can't connect a cable from the wall (you need a box) or an antenna and immediately watch TV. While it does include picture presets such as Dynamic and Cinema, it's missing many of the dubious picture features (autocolor, and so on) found on consumer models. Happily, it does boast independent input memories as well as a variety of screensavers to help prevent burn-in--an overrated danger in our book.

As far as connections are concerned, the panel's back panel is a little sparse out of the box. It comes standard with one component-video input that doubles as an RGB input, one 15-pin RGB input that can also be configured for component video, one S-Video input, and one composite-video input. The component-video and composite-video jacks use BNC-type connectors, necessitating the purchase of inexpensive RCA-to-BNC adapters to allow connection of standard video cables.

The good news is that you can customize the TH-42PHD7UY's connectivity with optional inputs, such as DVI and HDMI, that plug right into card slots on the rear of the panel. As the panel ships from the factory, two of the slots are occupied by the A/V inputs listed above, and one is open. Check out the list of available input upgrades, along with pricing, available here.

Panasonic's 2005 industrial models are available in 37-inch EDTV (TH-37PWD7UY), 42-inch EDTV (TH-42PWD7UY), 50-inch (TH-50PHD7UY), and 65-inch (TH-65PHD7UY) versions.

We found three key things that account for the Panasonic's impressive picture quality. They are, in descending order of importance: contrast ratio, color saturation, and accurate color reproduction. The superior black-level performance of the Panasonic industrial models helps increase their actual contrast ratio (range from black to white), which gives them more detail near black in dark scenes and increases the color saturation as well.

The TH-42PHD7UY's color decoding is exceptional, which also accounts for its incredible color saturation without any red push. This means you get a lot of color, but at the same time, skin tones look natural, and the grass or dirt on football or baseball fields looks as it should, rather than neonlike or overly red or green. Of course, all of these benefits were even more apparent after the set had been properly calibrated.

The TH-42PHD7UY actually comes from the factory less overdriven than most, with relatively tame contrast, but still benefits greatly from calibration. After calibration, our reference DVDs, such as Seabiscuit and the recent release of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back looked fabulous. Chapter 12 of Seabiscuit had great color saturation and excellent detail. The deep space shots in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back showed off the TH-42PHD7UY's superior black-level performance with good detail and deep blacks rather than the muddy blacks with dancing pixels or false-contouring artifacts commonly found in other plasma panels.

HDTV on this panel also looked superb. Even though the resolution is only 1,024x768, the color saturation, detail in dark scenes, and the overall crispness of the picture from our DirecTV HD satellite feed were impressive. In fact, the reality is that resolution isn't as important as the other elements of the picture we mentioned earlier.

Before color temp (20/80) 7,425/8,700K Poor
After color temp (20/80) 6,550/6,600K Good
Before grayscale variation +/-1811K Poor
After grayscale variation +/-175K Average
Overscan 3% Good
Color decoder error: red 0% Good
Color decoder error: green 0% Good
DC restoration All patterns stable Good
2:3 pull-down, 24fps Y Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good

Panasonic TH-PD7UY

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 9