Panasonic TH-42PX80 review

A superb 42 inch talent from Panasonic

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Our Verdict

Panasonic’s seemingly unstoppable plasma roll continues apace with this stunner despite LCD’s best efforts

For

  • Outstanding pictures
  • Good connectivity
  • Price

Against

  • HDMIs not v1.3
  • Colours could be more vibrant
  • Occasional orange tone to rich reds

Plasma technology is far from the dead duck some would like you to think it is.

Samsung's 50in plasma is a cracker, especially in raw value terms. And this 42in Panasonic effort is even better.

Clever technology

It's hit and miss, however, on the connectivity side. For although it carries three 1080p/24fps-capable HDMIs, these aren't v1.3. One plus point is an SD card slot so you can display photos onscreen.

Although Panasonic does, uniquely, sell full HD 42in plasmas, the relatively low-end 42PX80 is only an HD Ready model.

But on hand to ensure that the UK's predominantly 1,080-line HD sources map onto the 42PX80 as well as possible is the latest iteration of Panasonic's V-Real processing technology, V-Real 3 designed to suppress noise and boost resolution, colour toning, motion handling and black levels.

Also on board is 100Hz processing to reduce flickering and instability when showing camera pans and fast motion.

Dynamic pictures

Pictures quickly establish themselves as standing out from the rivals. Kicking off the hot stuff is an outstanding black level response.

Panasonic claims a contrast ratio of 15,000:1 but, judging by the deep, grey-free blacks it produces, this figure looks decidedly pessimistic.

Dark areas retain bags of shadow detail and depth too, plus they help make the image look unusually dynamic by providing a profound counterpoint to the screen's colours.

These aren't, perhaps, as in your face as those of most good LCD screens, but they're certainly more vibrant than those of Panasonic's previous plasma range, and also generally more natural than those of many LCD rivals.

Clear audio

Other 42PX80 high points find standard-definition broadcasts getting scaled up to the HD pixel count exceptionally cleanly, and HD images looking much sharper than you might expect from a non-full HD screen.

Plus there's practically no motion judder, and the 100Hz processing ensures the picture looks stable as objects cross the screen.

Audio is easily powerful enough to keep the stunning 42in pictures company, with decent clarity and even a solid amount of bass to keep your ears happy.

A premium plasma

The 42PX80 isn't completely perfect.

Red tones can occasionally look a bit orange, HD pictures could look cleaner still were the TV full HD, and as we said, colours can look more vibrant on LCD technology.

But the positives far outweigh the negatives.