TODO alt text

Panasonic TX-P54Z1 review

Super-skinny 54" plasma to go, sir? It'll certainly set you back an arm and a leg…

Our Verdict

HD images and sonics are superb. But is that really enough to justify £4,500?

For

  • Great HD images
  • Good audio
  • Nice design and build quality

Against

  • Poor with SD
  • How much?

At first glance it's hard to believe that the TX-P54Z1 is a plasma TV: the chunky, dour looks that tend to define the technology are conspicuous in their absence here.

Pleasingly, the TX-P54Z1 has more in line with slinky LCD models. Particularly remarkable is that this TV is just 25.7mm deep, even out-slimming Samsung and LG's recent edge-LED TVs.

Some of this remarkable slenderness can be explained by the fact that the the set's three tuners – Freeview, analogue and Freesat – are built into an external tuner/multimedia box, ideal for wall-mounting. You don't even need to physically connect the multimedia box: it connects wirelessly, with full 1080p HD signal support.

The only unfortunate thing about this system is that it's external, requiring a separate transmitter, and an external receiver bolted onto the TV's underside. The multimedia box also carries four HDMI inputs, an SD card slot for playing video or photo files, and an Ethernet port for streaming in PC files, or logging in to Panasonic's nicely presented – if not content-heavy – VieraCast online service.

This plasma is THX approved, complete with a THX-calibrated picture preset, so it's no surprise to discover that it's a superior big-screen performer. At least with HD…

Fed a good Blu-ray, the TX-P54Z1 delivers a dazzling array of talents, dominated by a superb black level response. This avoids almost all the greyness associated with many flatscreens and reveals immense amounts of shadow detailing, enhancing the believability of dark scenes. Colours look rich and punchy, during darker scenes, too.

Unlike most LCD TVs, this plasma doesn't need to dim its overall brightness level to produce a good black level response.

Devil in the detail

More surprising is how exceptionally sharp HD pictures look, with every last pixel of detail reproduced faithfully and noiselessly.

This sense of total clarity isn't done any harm by plasma's innate freedom from the sort of motion blur issues associated with LCD technology. Even judder is largely kicked into touch, thanks to the on-board 600Hz processing engine.

That processing also earns its keep by rendering high-definition colours with mesmerising subtlety, so that pictures look more three-dimensional and natural.

Pleasingly, this plasma screen is watchable from nearly right angles without any loss of image quality – another feat most LCD TVs can only dream about.

So, what's our beef with this TV? Why just a four star rating? Well, the main problem with the TX-P54Z1 is that its pictures lose their way with standard definition, leaving them looking rather soft and oddly affected by a few strained colour tones.

Also, this plasma doesn't have the sheer brightness of contemporary LCD TVs either, particularly post-calibration. This won't matter if you're putting the screen into a reasonably dark room, however.

Accentuating the positive once more, pictures are accompanied by remarkably powerful sonics from a pair of 'bolt on' speakers, defying the screen's slenderness by delivering bags of treble detailing and even a healthy splash of bass.

So, as long as you can feed it a predominantly HD diet, the TX-P54Z1 is undeniably terrific. But, we're still not entirely convinced that it stands out from the crowd quite enough to justify its extremely hefty price tag.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview

Tech Specs

Product TypePlasma TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-C (MPEG4), DVB-T (MPEG4)
Analog TunerPAL, SECAM, NTSC
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports4
Number of SCART Interfaces2
Product FamilyViera Z1
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size137.2 cm (54")
Aspect Ratio16:9
EthernetYes
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)36.50 kg
Operating Power Consumption420 W
Standby Power Consumption500 mW
Dynamic Contrast Ratio2,000,000:1
RMS Output Power20 W
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
VGAYes
S-VideoYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand892.70 mm
Width with Stand1302 mm
Depth with Stand378.30 mm
CI+Yes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
Teletext Memory2000
Motion Interpolation TechnologyIntelligent Frame Creation Pro
Enhanced Refresh Rate600 Hz
Height819.2 mm
Width1302 mm
Depth24.7 mm
Comb Filter3D Y/C
Sound SystemSurround Sound, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS
Product SeriesZ1
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
Colour Depth68.7 Billion Colors (12-bit)
FeaturesPicture and Picture (PAP), Picture and Text (PAT), Picture in Picture, Child Lock, Teletext, Web Content Access, PC Streaming, Media Player
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelTX-P54Z1
Product NameViera TX-P54Z1 Plasma TV
Product LineViera
Manufacturer Part NumberTX-P54Z1
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

The Z1 Series deliver outstanding 1080 lines moving picture resolution and a dynamic contrast of over 2,000,000:1. The THX Certified Display they incorporate has passed stringent tests, ensuring that they are ideal for viewing films. Z models also feature home networking with DLNA, which allows playback of motion images with VIERA CAST, and the VIERA Image Viewer. They can play DivX format motion images as well. The Z1 plasma series will be available as 46" (TX-P46Z1) and 54" (TX-P54Z1) models.

Package Contents
  • Viera TX-P54Z1 Plasma TV
  • Remote Control
SpeakersYes
Weight (Approximate)30.50 kg