The Panasonic TX-P46G20 is the first TV equipped to handle Freeview HD and Freesat HD broadcasts, making this one of the most highly specified TVs ever made. Well apart from its smaller brother, the Panasonic TX-P42G20.
It has four of the very latest HDMI 1.4 inputs, Ethernet for the VieraCast internet video service, Wi-Fi networking and even PVR recording via USB. You can record one (Freeview or Freesat SD/HD) programme at a time while watching a live programme on another tuner and timeshift TV. However, the hard drive must be self powered and recordings can only be played on the TV.
The image processor is the latest incarnation of Panasonic's NeoPDP engine with 600Hz Sub-field Drive Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) Pro. This describes the process whereby 12 extra sub-frames are inserted into each of the 50 frames scanned per second. The result is super-smooth, judder and flicker-free images.
Throw in a native contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1, more picture tweaks than there are buses in London and you have what amounts to one of the most cutting-edge screens on the planet, and not bad value for £1,300.
The gloss black styling is a bit run of the mill, but it doesn't distract from the picture. Installation is commendably straightforward for such a multi-faceted machine, with the option to add non-Freesat satellite channels manually or automatically via settings for Astra 2/Eurobird, Astra 1, Hotbird or a user-specified satellite.
Freesat's EPG has the standard, multi-genre home page and the GuidePlus enhanced Freeview EPG is little better, featuring tawdry-looking ads where you would hope to see a window of the live channel. Shows that are simultaneously broadcast in HD are flagged up on the BBC channels but, unlike Sky, you can't actually tell what is native HD.
The main drawback of IFC – which is not easy to switch off – is that a lot of content shot with a film grain (either original or simulated) often looks like low-budget video and introduces unwanted haloing around moving subjects. A bit of judder is infinitely preferable.
At least IFC is automatically disabled when watching Blu-ray movies in 1080p/24Hz, and the THX mode is optimised for THX discs.
Images are beautifully precise in terms of detail, resolution, and especially colours, which are so much more accurate than LCD or LED. The screen's other fortes are HD sport (with IFC on) and broadcast HD on Freeview and Freesat.
It also makes a jolly good fist of standard-definition content too, with commendably little MPEG noise.
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