Panasonic Viera TC-PS2 review: Panasonic Viera TC-PS2

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MSRP: $2,599.95

The Good Relatively inexpensive; decent black-level performance; solid grayscale accuracy; fingerprint-resistant finish; energy-efficient for a plasma.

The Bad Inaccurate primary colors and gamma; subpar bright-room quality; last year's Panasonic plasmas lost black-level performance over relatively short periods of time; sparse picture controls; uses significantly more power than LCDs.

The Bottom Line Though it's not without its performance gaffes, the midrange Panasonic TC-PS2 series of plasma TVs still offers very good image quality for the price.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7

One of the big advantages of plasma compared to LCD and LED-based TVs has nothing to do with off-angle viewing or picture uniformity--it centers on simple bang for the buck. The S2 series from Panasonic offers plenty of said bang, with mostly solid picture quality and none of the extra frills you might not want to pay extra for. On the downside, we'd have liked to see a few more picture tweaks, and people with bright rooms with no light control will want to think twice before drafting an S2--as will those worried about the 2009 black level debacle. Even with those caveats, however, the Panasonic TC-PS2 series remains a great value among flat-panel TVs.

Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 46-inch TC-P46S2, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.

Models in series (details)
Panasonic TC-P42S2 42 inches
Panasonic TC-P46S2 (reviewed) 46 inches
Panasonic TC-P50S2 50 inches
Panasonic TC-P54S2 54 inches
Panasonic TC-P58S2 58 inches
Panasonic TC-P65S2 65 inches


Those little ridges actually do help deter fingerprints.

Design highlights
Panel depth 3.7 inches Bezel width 2.1 inches
Single-plane face No Swivel stand No

Panasonic's designers wrapped an equal-width, glossy black bezel around the top and sides of the screen that grows in width and adds a slight curve along the bottom. To differentiate it from the other TVs in the company's lineup, they textured the gloss to resist fingerprints (it works) and set off the bottom of the bezel with a subtle bluish accent. The matching black stand doesn't swivel. Overall we like the understated look well enough, but it won't elicit many oohs or ahhs from the crowd.

Although it does match, the stand does not swivel.

Remote control and menus
Remote size (LxW) 8.5 x 2 inches Remote screen N/A
Total keys 47 Backlit keys 0
Other IR devices controlled No RF control of TV No
Shortcut menu Yes Onscreen explanations Yes

We like Panasonic's remote, with its medium size and well-spaced and -differentiated keys. Its only downsides are lack of illumination and an inability to control other gear directly via infrared. The company has updated its blue-and-yellow menus to include onscreen explanations and a persistent navigation column of icons on the left, and as a result they feel more modern and are easier to use than last year, if not quite up to the level of a Sony or Samsung.

The menu design is straightforward and functional.


Key TV features
Display technology plasma LED backlight N/A
3D compatible No 3D glasses included N/A
Screen finish Glass Refresh rate(s) 60Hz
Dejudder (smooth) processing No 1080p/24 compatible No
Internet connection No Wireless HDMI/AV connection No

You'll notice plenty of red ink in the chart above, as befits a mainstream-priced TV model. If you want streaming video and widgets in a Panasonic plasma, you'll need to pay extra for the TC-PG20 series.

Picture settings
Adjustable picture modes 5 Independent memories per input Yes
Dejudder presets 0 Fine dejudder control N/A
Aspect ratio modes -- HD 5 Aspect ratio modes -- SD 4
Color temperature presets 3 Fine color temperature control No
Gamma presets 0 Color management system No
Other: On/Off "Blur reduction" setting

Unlike most other makers Panasonic omits fine color temperature and gamma controls from its midline models, leaving the S2 series with a paucity of picture tweaks. Tweakers will, however, note the new-for-2010 "blur reduction" setting described thusly: "Improves motion picture quality. Additional subfields are created to reduce motion blur." See Performance for details.

Tweak-happy would-be calibrators need not apply.

Other features
Power saver mode No Ambient light sensor Yes
Picture-in-picture No On-screen user manual No
Other: Two modes to combat burn-in

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