Top 5 plasma TVs of 2009

Panasonic, Samsung and LG take out top honours

The Panasonic TH-P54Z1A is our runner up, with wireless HD video streaming and a 1in thick profile.

The Panasonic TH-P54Z1A is our runner up, with wireless HD video streaming and a 1in thick profile.

This year many interesting changes occurred in the plasma television market — most significantly the departure of Pioneer, who had been the undisputed leader in terms of plasma TV picture quality. Panasonic stepped in to fill the void left by Pioneer, delivering some great plasma TVs, but impressive test results from Samsung and LG see these TVs also make our Top 5 list. Read on as we reveal the Test Centre’s Top 5 Plasma TVs from 2009, rating them from the top performer to the highly commended.

1: Panasonic TH-50VX100W

Technically speaking, the Panasonic TH-50VX100W isn't a television. It doesn't have a TV tuner inside — all you get is an exceptional plasma panel with a 600000:1 static contrast ratio. Any aspect of the television’s image is able to be altered; indeed, it’s designed to be set up by a qualified ISF calibrator as part of its initial installation and this service is even included in the price tag. It produced the most natural picture quality we've seen on a plasma panel, as well as incredible detail and clarity.

What's Hot: Exceptional picture quality, lots of settings to tweak.
The Final Word: If you’re looking for a plasma television that’s even more amazing than Pioneer’s KURO series, Panasonic’s Premiere Series TVs should be your port of call.

2: Panasonic TH-P54Z1A

It may not have the peerless picture quality of the Panasonic TH-50VX100W plasma panel, but the Panasonic TH-P54Z1A plasma TV is a good, all-round performer. Its picture quality will impress all but the most finicky viewer, and it has a nifty wireless HD transmitter. Plus its 1-inch profile that means it's perfect for wall-mounting.

What's Hot: Thin and stylish design, perfect for wall-mounting, great picture quality even with wireless transmission, great speakers.
The Final Word: Panasonic's TH-P54Z1A plasma television is the pinnacle of 2009 plasma television design. It's only an inch thick, and it has wireless Full HD 1080p streaming and a very high quality plasma panel. Apart from its wallet-bashing price tag, the Panasonic TH-P54Z1A is a great unit.

3: Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850)

Samsung's PS50B850 plasma television comes in very closely behind the Panasonic TH-P54Z1A — it's super thin (despite an internal tuner), and it has great picture quality as well as a whole swag of extras including USB and Ethernet connections for multimedia playback. It's also a whole lot cheaper than we were expecting for a TV of this calibre.

What's Hot: Great contrast, super-thin design, great motion handling, decent power consumption for a plasma.
The Final Word: Samsung's Series 8 (PS50B850) plasma television is a brilliant product. Almost-peerless picture quality, a great design and a range of integrated features make it yet another new Samsung TV we heartily recommend. You do pay for the plasma quality, but that's really the only downside.

4: LG 50PS80ED

LG's Time Machine plasma scores points for its design, it conceals a 250GB internal hard drive and PVR circuitry in its chassis — cutting out the need for another bulky device in your home entertainment setup. It's even got a USB port so you can transfer any video recordings onto another device.

What's Hot: 250GB internal hard drive, striking frameless design, good overall picture quality.
The Final Word: The LG PS80 plasma is a great all-in-one solution for watching broadcast television as well as high-definition content. It only suffers from a few small flaws.

5: Pioneer PDP-LX609A

When this TV arrived in the Test Centre, Pioneer had already announced that it was leaving the plasma television market. We reviewed the Pioneer PDP-LX609A with a heavy heart — while it had brilliant blacks and then-peerless picture quality, we knew that there wasn't going to be another evolution. It grabs a spot in our Top 5 from 2009 as it delivered excellent performance (and from a nostalgia point of view, it is a nod to Pioneer’s achievement in the market).

What's Hot: Perfect blacks, Ethernet port, all-round brilliant picture quality, five year warranty, you’ll own the last ever Kuro.
The Final Word: We’re sad to say that this is the last Pioneer plasma television for the foreseeable future — and likely the last ever. Pioneer leaves the market on a high note though: the Kuro PDP-LX609A is the best plasma television screen we’ve seen.

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Campbell Simpson

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