The arrival of 3D TV has reignited the long-running debate as to the relative merits of plasma and LCD tellies. Panasonic insists that plasma technology is best suited to 3D, and backed up its case convincingly with the . Rivals Samsung and Sony disagree, but their LCD offerings have struggled to match the clarity of Panasonic's 3D TVs.
Now Panasonic has launched the 46-inch, 1080p Viera TX-P46VT20, which, even if not quite a second-generation 3D plasma TV, is still an upgrade. Plasma fans will be pleased to know that the technology can still lay claim to the three-dimensional high ground. The TX-P46VT20 is available now for around £1,900.
Although not as thin as the latest wave of LED-edge-lit TVs, the TX-P46VT20 is still slim enough, at 85mm thick, to create a good impression. The bronze finish is embellished by a silver trim, and looks uncluttered.
Beneath the screen are two infrared transmitter clusters for syncing the supplied pair of active-shutter glasses. On the left-hand side of the TV, you'll find two USB inputs, an SD card slot compatible with Panasonic's new headphone jack and phono AV inputs, plus a manual power-off rocker., an HDMI input, a
On the rear of the set are the three remaining HDMI inputs, two Scart sockets, component video connection, PC input, digital optical audio output, Ethernet jack, and both terrestrial aerial and satellite terminals. The set has a built-in freesat HD tuner, as well as Freeview HD and analogue ones. You can use a Panasonic Wi-Fi dongle to get the TV online if you don't have a wired connection.
Tweak your heart out
Back in the day, Panasonic TVs offered precious little scope for tweaking pictures. That's all changed. There are now plenty of opportunities to pinch and pull parameters. But the presets are extremely well judged anyway. The set is THX-certified, which essentially means it offers a mode that optimises the screen for watching movies. We love the balance of this preset -- it works wonderfully well.
In use, the set bears all the usual Panasonic hallmarks. The menus are a mixture of conservative boxes and the more graphically impressive Viera Tools bar, which gives quick access to networked media, 3D modes and the like. Panasonic's electronic programme guide is still irritating. Supplied by Guide Plus+, it features hard-sell advertising, which is rather annoying. The EPG is certainly fast, though.
Other pleasing extras include the Viera Cast online portal and DLNA streaming. Online content includes the ever popular YouTube, Dailymotion, and photo website Picasa. The set also sports the beta version of the Skype video-calling service (a video camera is required).