Panasonic delivers, with a minor clunk

Our new Panasonic 42-inch plasma Viera was due for delivery from Argos yesterday. We chose Argos because their corporation tax actually makes a contribution to UK Treasury coffers.

My wife ordered it and, the day before it arrived, received a voicemail confirming the delivery time and reminding her to keep the plastic on while testing the mattress. Had she placed this order the old way she might have suspected a slip of the stubby biro, but this was an online transaction and she had electronic confirmation. The possibility of a cock-up at the warehouse remained, however, so the suspense built as the scheduled Saturday lunchtime delivery window neared.

When the box arrived its huge dimensions alone were inconclusive, but the label clearly stated we had indeed received a hi-tech device for sending viewers to sleep rather than a hi-sprung mattress to accommodate them.

My wife, being the more practical of us, had no trouble in assembling the slim stand, fixing the TV to it and attaching all necessary cables to the various boxes (PVR, DVD & media streamer). With the aid of the slim, well-designed, manual she soon had it tuned in and turned on, while I cooked dinner.

We were mightily impressed by the picture quality on the regular Freeview channels, but once we had tried the HD ones our £299 outlay, already a good deal, seemed a bargain. After seeing a nature documentary, a rock concert and Match of the Day in high definition I don’t want to go back.

I’d feared the huge screen might be overwhelming but this was alleviated by the fact that it could stand 18 inches further back than its CRT predecessor, which had been encumbered by a backside bigger than Venus Williams’.

I do have a couple of questions for Panasonic. Why is the on-off button one of six halfway up the back of the TV rather than at the bottom, on the front? This is awkward enough when it is free-standing and in danger of toppling and it can’t be any easier for owners who mount them on the wall.

But the biggest clunk of all comes with the remote control. It is, without doubt or exaggeration, the ugliest, most unpleasant and least ergonomic that I have used. Ever. I suspect it was designed by a Lego enthusiast, using the same material as their bricks and moulded in a similarly angular fashion, by a robot with no concept of the human hand. Panasonic’s designers should give this an immediate overhaul and explore the latest materials being used by the makers of mobile phones, tablets, readers and remotes, to come up with something tactile and handy.

Otherwise, nine out of ten.

The Panasonic is on the right

Panasonic remote (right)

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