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Panasonic TC-P42G25

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

The Viera G25 series from Panasonic offers the a 42 inch Plasma television. This model comes with an Infinite Black contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1 which is more than most TVs which come in at 2,000,000:1. It features a 600Hz Sub-field drive for clarity of motion and images. Plus, G25 models are THX Display certified to give users the best in image quality.  The broadcast display is in 1080p HD and comes with three HDMI ports. Two 20 watt speakers are built-in to the system allowing for greater sound considering that most TVs only have 10 watt speakers built-in.You can view Netflix, stream Youtube or Foxsports, use your Twitter and Skype accounts through Viera Cast, which allows you to connect to the internet through your television.  This TV is webcam capable and features two USB ports and a PC connector for those who want to use the set as a monitor or connect peripherals to it. The G25 series is Energy Star Compliant.

Features List:

– 42 inch Plasma TV

– Infinite Black Contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1

– 600Hz Sub-Field Drive

– Two 20 watt speakers

– 1080p HD display

– 3 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports

– Viera Cast for Internet Access

– Webcam Capable

– Energy Star Compliant

What resolution do I need?

All consumer HDTVs break down into either 720p or 1080p resolution, which represents the number of horizontal lines in the display. More is obviously better here, but at small screen sizes – like 32 inches – many people find it hard to distinguish the benefit of 1080p resolution. As our guide to screen size points out, viewing distance can also play a factor: The closer you sit, the more you’ll appreciate higher resolution. In general, many people start to see an obvious difference between 1080p and 720p as screens sized 40 inches and up.

Also take into account that much of the content available today doesn’t take advantage of full 1080p resolution. Many shows still broadcast in 720p or 1080i. Technically only Blu-ray discs and digital, non-video sources (like a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or PC hooked up to the TV), really offer true 1080p content. This makes 1080p a no-brainer if you want to play Mass Effect 2 with the most detail and watch Star Trek on Blu-ray, but less essential if you just play to watch standard over-the-air broadcast material.

What are widgets?

Many of the top television manufacturers – including Sony, Sharp, Panasonic and Samsung – include Ethernet jacks on the back of their premium televisions for high-speed Internet connectivity (or in some cases, have integrated Wi-Fi for wireless connections). TV viewers will then use the remote to select “widgets,” graphicalicons on the screen that plays relevant (and customized) content ranging from YouTube videos and Flickr photo galleries to local weather, news, sports updates and stock quotes, usually delivered by Really Simple Syndication (RSS). Even more exciting is the partnership between Netflix and various TV companies, such as LG and Sony, allowingtelevision viewers to access tens of thousands of movies on-demand, many of which are in high-definition.

Which other panel specs should I pay attention to?

In short: brightness, contrast, and refresh time.

Brightness is measured in Candelas per square meter, or cd/m2. A typical figure, for instance, might be 500 cd/m2. More is always better, especially if you plan to plant your TV in a bright room where the screen will have to overcome other light sources.

Contrast is measured as a ratio of the brightest white a TV can produce, over the darkest dark. For instance, Insignia’s NS-L42X-10A offers a 4,000:1 contrast ratio. More is also better, but beware of “dynamic contrast ratios,” which use unrealistic measurement conditions (the brightest white is measured with the backlight set to full, and the darkest dark with the backlight to minimum, even though those levels could never occur side by side on the same screen) to inflate the number to levels like 2,000,000:1.

Refresh time is measured in milliseconds, such as 5ms. Lower is always better, and will prevent the “ghosting” that can sometimes be seen in fast-motion video.

What is a LED backlighting?

Traditionally, LCD TVs have used compact fluorescent (CFL) tubes placed behind an LCD panel to provide the backlighting that literally lights up the screen. More modern LED TVs replace these tubes with clusters of light emitting diodes – LEDs.

When LEDs are placed at the edges of the screen, as CFL tubes traditionally were, TVs can be made significantly thinner, and LEDs use less power than fluorescents. The most inexpensive LED-lit HDTVs take this approach.

However, the biggest advantage to using LEDs is realized when they light the screen in a grid from behind. Sophisticated electronics vary the intensity of every LED in accordance with action on the screen, making dark areas of the image darker, and bright areas brighter. This effectively increases the contrast ratio compared to uniform lighting. Although it also increases costs, many people believe this type of LCD is the first to truly rival plasma on black levels.

Read more about LED backlighting and the differences between both techniques in our guide to understanding LED backlighting.

LCD or Plasma?

Debating between LCD or plasma can almost get as subjective as debating between chocolate and vanilla. But unlike the never-ending ice cream debate, there actually is a superior TV choice, depending on how you plan to use it.

Check out some of our previous guides on the subject to get a better look, but in short, plasmas use more electricity, come in bigger sizes, have deeper blacks, don’t suffer from motion blur, and offer an unlimited viewing angle that’s best for off-axis viewing. LCDs are more energy-efficient, have fewer problems with glare due to their matte screens, can hold an image for hours or days without suffering “burn-in,” and generally look brighter.

After deciding which format to go with, our LCD and Plasma HDTV buying guides can help you with more questions specific to your type of TV.