Judging from the frequency and urgency of reader mail I've received since CES, the most highly-anticipated 2009 HDTVs this year, by far, are Panasonic's new plasmas. In the last week or so, a few of the models have started to appear in stores and on the company's Web site for pre-order, and one Web site has leaked pricing information for other upcoming models.
Below you'll find the latest stats and information we have on a per-model basis, including prices either on the company's Web site now or leaked by HDGuru.com--who also leaked LCD pricing info. All prices are estimated street prices, but still may be higher than the best online prices. Update 3-12-2009: Pricing and availability has been updated per Panasonic.
- TC-PX1 series, entry-level 720p
- 42-inch TC-P42X1 (available now, $899)
- 50-inch TC-P50X1 (now, $1,099)
- TC-PS1 series, entry-level 1,080p with more-efficient, higher-contrast NEO-PDP panels
- TC-PG10 series, adds THX display certification, 24p compatibility, VieraCast
- TC-PV10 series, adds Digital Cinema Color
- TC-PZ1 series, adds wireless, 1-inch-thick panel
- 54-inch TC-P54Z1 (Summer, $5999)
And in case you're wondering, no, plasma isn't dead, and in most cases we do recommend waiting for the new models, which should offer significant improvements over their 2008 counterparts in terms of energy efficiency and picture quality.
Of course, the most common question I get is, "When are you going to have a review?" I'll be honest when I say I don't know. Panasonic is notoriously slow to get review samples to editors, even ones like me who hound the company's reps incessantly. The latest they'll tell me is that I'll get review samples "soon" and that I will be the first to see one. For whatever that's worth. The company is hosting a March 11 meeting in New York that I'll be attending, and I hope to receive a review sample in the following couple of days. Maybe.
In the meantime, while you wait with bated breath for a review, exhale in the comments below and let me know what you'd like to see in a review, or whether you're holding out for a new Panasonic, or are planning to grab a closeout 2008 model while the grabbing is good.
And if you want to buy a new model and send it to CNET's labs for testing first, I'll return it within two weeks, complete with a calibration! And how does free shipping sound? Seriously. E-mail me. Let's talk.
Update March 4, March 13: According to the Panasonic manual unearthed by the folks at AVS Forum, and since confirmed by Panasonic, the G10 models will have 24p compatibility; previously, Panasonic indicated that the feature would be reserved for the step-up V10 and Z1 lines. According to Panasonic, the G10 and G15 lines will refresh at 48Hz, which leads us to suspect that they'll suffer from the same sort of flicker seen on the 24p modes of last year's PZ800U and PZ850U models. The V10 and Z1 lines, however, will refresh at 96Hz, which shouldn't introduce flicker. We'll know for sure when we get the displays reviewed.(Thanks for the tip, Chris R!)