Usability

There's good and bad to report here. So let's get the bad news out of the way first. First, the main picture setup menus are rather drab by today's standards, with perfunctory graphics doing little to add any excitement to the large amounts of text on the screen.

Another issue is the main app access menu for Viera Connect. The problem is that the access icons it uses are too large, restricting you to just nine on the screen at once. This leads to lots of delving through sub-menus to get to some of the apps you've added to your interface.

It helps that you can decide which icons you want to put on which 'layer' of the Viera Connect menus. But nonetheless the current system is only going to feel more strained as the amount of online content continues to grow.

Panasonic TX-P42GT50 review

Panasonic's remote control design is starting to show its age, too, with some ill-judged button weighting (in terms of positioning and size) giving you the feeling that the Panasonic TX-P42GT50's functionality has been shoehorned onto an older remote design rather than the remote being designed from scratch around the features it has to accommodate.

The good news is that the set up menus are reasonably logically organised (once you realise that you have to first activate an Advanced mode before you can use the most technical picture adjustments), and that the menus for the Viera Marketplace online TV shop are superbly presented and easy to use.

Also extremely welcome is the Viera Control app that you can download for iOS or Android mobile devices, which enables you to control the TV - and surf the web using the TV's integrated browser - via your tablet or phone's touchscreen.

Panasonic TX-P42GT50 review

You can even 'throw' content directly from your portable device to the TV screen, or vice versa. Excellent.

Sound

The Panasonic TX-P42GT50's speakers do a fair to middling job of handling the various action scene soundtracks we threw at them. There's a little more room than you get with many skinnier rival TVs for the mid-range to expand to accommodate loud moments, and trebles are handled cleanly.

There's not quite as much treble detail as you sometimes hear, and bass levels are only average. But this still amounts to a better effort than the thin, harsh unpleasantness so often heard from today's slim TVs.

Value

With 40-42-inch TVs available now for under £400/$600, the Panasonic TX-P42GT50 is clearly not for the financially faint of heart, given that it costs three times as much.

Panasonic TX-P42GT50 review

But then with Panasonic's VT50 range not including a 42-inch model, the Panasonic TX-P42GT50 is quite probably the finest 42-inch TV money can buy, especially if you're a serious film fan. So really the Panasonic TX-P42GT50's value depends on how much being able watch the finest 42-inch movie machine in town matters to you.

The only other element to throw into the mix here is Sony's 40HX853. This is a couple of inches smaller, and despite being the best black level performer in the LCD world right now, it's still not capable of as much black level depth and detail as the Panasonic TX-P42GT50. But its pictures are brighter, especially in light room conditions, and it's also £100-£200 (around $150-300) cheaper if you shop around.