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 Panasonic’s TC-P46C2 offers a 46-inch Plasma HDTV with full HD 720p resolution and 600Hz Sub-field Drive for motion clarity. It features a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and comes with two HDMI ports. There’s also an SD card slot which with the Viera Image Viewer that allows users to play slideshows of JPEGs. The set offers two built-in 20 watt full-range speakers with surround sound capabilities. The TC-P46C2 is Energy Star qualified.
– 46-inch Plasma TV
– HDTV 720p resolution
– 600Hz Sub-Field Drive for motion clarity
– 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio
– 2 HDMI ports
– SD Cart Slot with Viera Image Viewer
– Two built-in 20 watt speakers
– Energy Star qualified
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.
Do I need a 120Hz set? What about 240Hz?
This popular LCD TV-based technology helps reduce motion blur. Pronounced “120 hertz,” 120Hz technology essentially doubles the speed at which frames are displayed, from 60 frames per second to 120 frames per second, resulting in a clearer moving image, especially in fast-action video sequences.
Since the screen can display more frames than a movie actually has, many TVs will artificially generate in-between frames where they don’t exist to make motion look smoother. Some people find the look more fluid, while some people think it looks artificial and odd. Fortunately, all TVs that offer it also offer an option to turn it off, if you don’t like it. We recommend testing it in person to see the effects for yourself before deciding whether or not you should pay extra.
Check out our article 120Hz and 240Hz Refresh Rates Explained for more on motion smoothing.
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.
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.