Ratings in depth

Design 4/5
features 4/5
performance 3.5/5
usability
value 3/5

This 42-incher from Panasonic's AS500 Series of LED TVs is all about value, but with a little something extra.

With a list price of £599, but seen online for less than £450, the TX-42AS500 manages to bring both the slinky My Home Screen user interface – along with a bunch of apps – and a surprisingly slinky-looking design.

It's largely gloss black, though the designers of the 963x566x69mm TX-42AS500 have managed to create a super-slim bezel around the top and sides that measures a mere 5mm (and 20mm at the bottom). Until last year a high-end feature indeed and it's a welcome addition here.

Features

Unlike smaller versions in the AS500 Series that boast HD-ready resolutions, the TX-42AS500 has a Full HD LCD panel that's LED-backlit. Sadly that panel doesn't come with a natively 100Hz refresh rate, but it does have a backlight blinking system in-built that is designed to mimic the smoother, faster 100Hz look.

Elsewhere there's a Freeview HD tuner and My Home Screen, the latter of which is a hangover from last year's high-end Panasonic TVs. That its deliciously simple and intuitive pages have trickled-down to this entry-level 42-incher is quite something.

Apps

Panasonic doesn't have the best choice of apps. It does have Netflix, but no Amazon Instant Video. Similarly, catch-up TV apps are limited to BBC iPlayer, BBC News and BBC Sport, with the likes of ITV Player, 4OD and Demand Five not available. It just seems crazy.

Panasonic TX-42AS500
Not all UK terrestrial apps are available, but Netflix and BBC iPlayer are present

Other apps on the TX-42AS500 include YouTube, Wuaki.tv, Metronews TV, all installed by default, though dive into the app store and it's possible to download a whole host of other (minority interest) apps like Facebook, Eurosport, CineTrailer, Deezer, Dailymotion, SHOUTcast, TuneIn radio, PlayJam games and iConcerts.

Ins and outs

The TX-42AS500 has just enough ins and outs to compete. A rear panel holds two HDMI inputs – the very minimum you should expect on any TV nowadays – as well as a set of component video inputs, a full RGB Scart, an RF aerial to fuel the Freeview HD tuner, some stereo audio inputs, a digital optical audio output and an Ethernet LAN slot. There's a Wi-Fi module inside, too.

Panasonic TX-42AS500
The Panasonic TX-42AS500 has the minimum amount of ins and outs that you'd expect on a TV

Around the side is a USB slot, a headphones jack and a common interface slot for adding extra TV channels.

Also available

Elsewhere in the AS500 Series is the 39-inch TX-39AS500B and 50-inch TX-50AS500, as well as two HD-ready models, the 24-inch TX-24AS500 and 32-inch TX-32AS500. Step up to the TX-42AS600 (more catch-up TV apps within the delicious Freetime user interface), the AS640/AS650/AS680 (which add 3D, Hexa Core processing and a Life+ user interface), the twin-tuner AS750, the AS800 (LED local dimming), AX800 (4K resolution) and AX900 (4K and a slinky design).