We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.
Panasonic’s TC-P42U2 is a 42-inch Plasma HDTV with a full HD 1080p resolution and 600Hz Sub-field Drive for motion clarity. It features a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The TV has three HDMI ports and an SD card slot which with the Viera Image Viewer that allows users to play slideshows of JPEGs. There are two built-in 20 watt full-range speakers with surround sound capabilities. The TC-P42U2 is Energy Star qualified.
– 42-inch Plasma TV
– HDTV ready
– Full HD 1080p resolution
– 600Hz Sub-Field Drive for motion clarity
– 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
– 3 HDMI ports
– SD Cart Slot with Viera Image Viewer
– Two built-in 20 watt speakers
– Energy Star qualified
Should I worry about viewing angle?
Absolutely. All LCDs will distort when viewed from extreme angles, but the degree of distortion and the angle it starts to occur at varies from TV to TV. If you plan to pack a dozen people in front of a single TV for entertaining, viewing angle will make a huge difference for the unlucky few who get scattered off to the sides. Most manufacturers will state viewing angle in degrees (for instance, 160) in the specifications for a TV, but be warned: methods for measuring this very subjective figure vary, and we can guarantee most companies opt for the most generous figures. When possible, try to evaluate it yourself in person, or read hands-on reviews that can offer anecdotal evidence, rather than relying on easily-manipulated numbers.
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.
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.
What inputs should I look for?
A final consideration when buying a new HDTV is what you can connect to it. Make sure there are ample HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) ports to connect multiple components, such as a cable/satellite receiver, video game consoles, DVD/Blu-ray player, camcorder, and so on. At least three or four such ports is a must. A convenient bonus is when the TV also offers a USB port to connect a Flash thumb-drive or external hard drive full of music, photos and videos, or a SD or Memory Stick card slot that lets you insert a compatible card that contains photos and videos. If you think you’d like to connect your computer to the television for big-screen web surfing, look for one with PC connectivity. Many TVs today offer these additional features.
How large of a screen do I really need?
“Bigger is better” doesn’t make any more sense when choosing an HDTV for your living room than when choosing a couch for your living room. A lot of factors come into play. As a general rule, consider a TV 1.5 to 3.0 times the screen size. For instance, a 32-inch television might make sense for viewing distances as close as four feet away, and as far as eight feet away. Check out our guide to choosing the right size HDTV for more details, including a helpful chart.