EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Read our verdict on Panasonic's Full HD Viera TH-42PZ80B plasma

New flatscreen TVs from Panasonic keep arriving thick and fast, so we've been slaving away in our test rooms to keep those reviews coming.

The latest model to come under our scrutiny is the Viera TH-42PZ80B Full HD plasma. You'll be able to read all about it, plus another 14 brand-new plasma and LCD TVs, in the Ultimate Guide to Television, on sale June 5.

But if you can't wait that long, you can read our verdict here on whathifi.com.

Panasonic TH-42PZ80B


5 stars


Rich, natural colours; handles movement smoothly; great off-air performance


Pictures could be a touch sharper and clearer


This plasma set is a good, all-round performer and a great value for money proposition

The LCD versus plasma TV debate continues and there seems to be no end in sight. Luckily for Panasonic, its Viera range has a tent pitched in both camps and continues to churn out both types of set with astonishing success.

The TH-42PZ80B is a 42-inch plasma set, with the same, subtle, understated design treatment as all Panasonic flatscreens. The screen is Full HD (1920x1080/24fps) and features 100Hz picture processing.

What's more, the menu system is easy to navigate, aided by the chunky remote control and thumb-friendly button layout. The set is armed with three HDMI inputs (two round the back, one under a flap on the front of the unit), with component video and Scart sockets thrown in for good measure.

View your digital photos on TV

If you own a digital camera that uses an SD memory card, you can take advantage of the slot provided to display your favourite photos.

Standard-definition broadcasts on the Panasonic look particularly accomplished, with good image stability and detail.

With standard-definition DVD discs such as Sweeney Todd, the Panasonic set delivers a picture blessed with deep, rich blacks, and the set captures the textures of Johnny Depp's eerie outfit perfectly.

Switch to a high-definition source such as Enchanted on Blu-ray and the Panasonic's natural colour palette comes to the fore. Despite the vibrant nature of the film, not once does the Panasonic overcook its presentation.

What's more, movement is handled smoothly and confidently with only the class leaders in this size offering a marginally sharper, detailed image.

Sound, meanwhile, is average for this class of flatscreen - in other words, it's listenable, but nothing special. Other new-season sets - such as LG's Scarlet and even the next-step up '85 series Panasonics - sound better if you're going to be relying on your TV speakers alone, but we'd like to hope an additional sound system will be paired with a set of this size and quality.

In conclusion, the TH-42PZ80B continues Panasonic's trend of making impressive plasma TVs and, while it might not be a significant step forward, it deserves an audition.

Tech specs

Type Plasma

Aspect Ratio 16:9

HD Ready Yes

Full HD Yes

Screen size (in) 42

Resolution 1920 x 1080

Accepts 1080p Yes

24fps Yes

HDMI 1.3a 3

Integrated analogue tuner Yes

Integrated digital tuner Yes

HDMI in 3

DVI in 0

PC in 0

Component in 1

RGB Scart in 1

Scart in 1

S-Video in 1

Composite in 1

USB in 0

Memory card in 1

Phono audio in 2

Phono audio out 1

Digital audio out 0

Dimensions (hwd, cm) 73 x 105 x 33

Weight (kg) 34

Technorati Tags: 100Hz, 1080i, 1080p, 24fps, 720p, component video, Digital TV, Freeview, Full HD, HDMI, HDTV, high-def, plasma, plasma TV, RGB Scart, TV

Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching whathifi.com in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.