Panasonic VIERA TH-L42D25S - High-Def Champion

Launch SRP: S$2699

Design & Features

Design

Like many HDTVs wearing the Panasonic tag, the VIERA D25S requires a little assembly work if you wish to deploy it on the pedestal stand. Contrary to their traditional blend of LCD displays, the D25S is a nice change from their dull mix of black or grey concoctions. Mostly, the D-series does not convey an avant-garde feel like the glassy LG INFINIA or Sony's Monolithic range, but it does stand out from the LCD crowd with its "crystallized" purplish hues on the bezel. At 77 mm deep, the edge-lit panel's depth is also noticeably skinnier than Panasonic's CCFL range, like the thicker U-series for example. This, in turn, makes it a suitable choice for wall-mounts as well. Hardware buttons remain as a standard feature, and they can be found on the right wing of the display should the remote fail you. The D25S swivels on a silver ellipse stand, approximately 25 degrees both ways.

Putting the VIERA D25S together requires some handiwork. To rest it on your shelf or cabinet, you'll need to affix the panel and spine to the elliptical base.

Now that's a funky color you don't see very often on LCD TVs. Panasonic's D25S sports a purplish bezel with a semi-translucent skin.

The VIERA is relatively slim at 77 mm, but note that the lower portion of the panel is visibly thicker. Hardware buttons are still a staple on the D25S.

You can say Panasonic's AV spread is a hit-and-miss job. On the upside, we were comfortable with the array of analog and digital ports. Apart from the blend of composite and component plugs, there're two HDMI slots mounted behind the panel and one on the side. The HDMI2 connector offers ARC (digital output of sound) features as well. There is a surplus of multimedia connectors too, judging from its brew of two USB offerings and an SD card slot which supports the SDXC format. What we didn't fancy, however, is the deep placement of the USB1 and Ethernet ports behind. As such, ensure the necessary cables are wired up before installing the TV. Panasonic's gray remote remains unchanged since we last saw a VIERA. The usual suspects are there, such as buttons for VIERA Tools (multimedia interface), VIERA Cast (internet content), plus auxiliary controls for devices managed over VIERA Link (Panasonic's HDMI-CEC feature).  

Panasonic offers a nice mix of analog and digital AV options, including a mixture of composite and components plugs, three HDMI ports, two USB ports, and an SD card slot. Some of the ports' rear-facing placement also demands a greater depth for wall mounts.     

 The familiar remote comes in a recognizable design and configuration which accompanied earlier suites of VIERA HDTVs. A circular D-pad is placed just below the VIERA Tools button, with auxiliary keys for AV devices (connected via VIERA Link) found further down below.

Features

Observably, the D25S prompted us to update its firmware once we wired the display to the Internet. The software version was eventually numbered as 5.500 after the upgrade, versus its initial 0.293 version. The D-series might never grow bigger than its 42-inch size, but don't discount its abilities as yet. There're two TV tuners to start with, consisting of a terrestrial and digital (DVB-T) package. For its interface, Panasonic has retained its text-based and somewhat boring UI, although it does horde a broad range of adjustments for the AV enthusiast. We spotted two Professional (ISFccc) modes available out of the eight picture presets. The Professional selections also unlocks a variety of tweaks, such as color management, gamma, and white balance options if you wish to calibrate the unit further. 

You might see this screen once you connect the display to the Internet. If you want the best for your TV and the most recent VIERA Cast applications, we'd recommend upgrading its firmware before deploying the D25S. Software was updated from version 0.293 to 5.500.

Picture settings vary, depending on the Viewing Mode selected. Here's a screenshot of the Professional2 option but note that the Advanced Settings (not shown) can be accessed by scrolling further down the list.

Compared to its rivals, Panasonic is a little late to the Internet stage but we reckon it's better to be late than never. VIERA Cast, as anticipated, is present in the D-series installment. Panasonic's infotainment platform does not yield as many widgets as Samsung Apps, but it does carry fundamental social networking and news applications such as YouTube, Twitter and Picasa; plus Bloomberg for stock market updates as well as a customizable weather app. Text entry on the D25S was relatively painless, since the TV allows you to punch in alphanumeric characters via the remote's keypad like how you would do so on a mobile phone. Don't hesitate to plug in a USB keyboard if that's still too tedious for you. Skype is available on VIERA Cast, but you'll need to part with $229 for the 720p TY-CC10W webcam to reap its VoIP benefits.  

Panasonic's VIERA Cast platform was first announced in 2008, but it took them a while before they were finally implemented on local sets. Twitter is the latest application to join the VIERA Cast family.

 To key in text on the VIERA, you may either use the remote's alphanumeric keypad, or plug in a USB keyboard to speed up the process. The choice is yours.

8.5
Design
8.5
HD Performance
9
SD Performance
8
Features
9
Value
8.5
The Good
Natural colors
Feature-packed
Splendid HD performance
The Bad
Average SD quality
Ineffective noise filters