When Panasonic first introduced its Viera range in Australia two years ago, we thought it was drop dead gorgeous. Call us jaded, but while this Viera is still a very nice, clean-looking TV, it's just not quite the show-stopper it once was.
The TH-42PV60A is a trim 705 x 1020 x 95mm, making it a quite compact unit for its 106cm screen size. The speakers no longer flank the sides of the panel, but are so well concealed under the screen that they're almost undetectable. It has a 2cm black frame surrounding the screen, but the rest of the cabinet and table top stand are finished in a plain silver -- gone is the suave black casing from the 2005 model. We're not particularly enamoured of the current rage for TVs with glossy black finishes, but without it, the Viera doesn't have the same pizzazz. Other than an unobtrusive Panasonic logo, the rest of the face is free of clutter. Perhaps it's because there are now so many more flashy models on the market, but design elements that previously made a Viera set look sleek, now leave it a bit on the bland side.
The remote is really nothing to write home about as it's faced with an uninspiring grey plastic. It's quite compact, but the most often used buttons are a bit small and can be hard to locate and press. There's no back-lighting of any kind; watching a movie in the dark, we once hit the Sleep button by accident, so of course the screen shut down during a crucial scene. On the plus side, it will control some other compatible Panasonic VCR and DVD equipment.
Panasonic added HDMI to its 2005 Viera model, and this year goes one better again with two HDMI terminals. If you've got other Panasonic equipment that also has HDMI, its HDAVI Control function will let you do things like control the power on/off on a DVD recorder or the volume on connected home theatre speakers.
There are also plenty of other connections on both the front and back of the unit to hook-up just about any device you'd want to including amplifiers, speaker systems, set top boxes, VCRs, DVD players and recorders, game consoles, computers, camcorders and headsets.
There is not simply more of everything, however. Previously included SD memory card and PC card slots have been omitted this time around. Picture-in-picture capabilities have also been left out. And no, there's still no digital tuner onboard.
It does feature Teletext, a child lock system and an off timer, but other than that, the TH-42PV60A doesn't have a lot of tricks up its sleeve. For those of you still worried about burn-in or what Panasonic terms "after images", a screen saver automatically activates when there's been a still image or no signal or operation for several minutes. The screen saver automatically deactivates when a signal or operation resumes.