With Panasonic's ST50 and VT50 TVs already setting the AV world alight, is there room for the Panasonic TX-P42GT50 that sits between them? Actually yes.

The Panasonic TX-P42GT50 gets off to a great start by offering features galore by 42-inch standards. Highlights include 3D, online video/gaming/information services, an advanced version of Panasonic's very latest plasma panel design, THX endorsement and decent amounts of multimedia flexibility. There's even a Freesat tuner to accompany the Freeview one, if that floats your boat.

The real star of the Panasonic TX-P42GT50's show, though, is its picture quality, which is nothing short of outstanding - especially (though not exclusively) if you dim the lights to watch a Blu-ray movie.

We liked

The Panasonic TX-P42GT50's single greatest attraction is its picture quality, which uses extreme contrast levels, great colours and spectacular amounts of HD detail to outperform all of its 42-inch rival TVs, especially when you're watching movies in a darkened room.

Its online service has some compelling content too, and its Android/iOS control app is excellent. The television also looks OK so long as you can see past its chubbiness versus most of today's high-end TVs.

We disliked

There's a little dot noise in pictures that's visible if you sit very close to the screen or use the Dynamic preset. There's also a little colour trailing with 50Hz material, and pictures lose a degree of brightness in bright room conditions.

It's a pity you don't get any 3D glasses included for free too, and finally a couple more video streaming services - especially Lovefilm and ITV Player - would be nice.

Final verdict

Panasonic really is spoiling us this year. Bargain hunters have the ridiculously-good-for-its-money ST50 series, money's-no-object film fans have the VT50 series, and then sandwiched perfectly between the two is the Panasonic TX-P42GT50, offering an ideal step-up option for people who fancy slightly more quality than the ST50 TVs offer but can't scrape together the money for the VT50 televisions.

Fans of tech for tech's sake may prefer to look elsewhere, we guess, and there are concerns about the Panasonic TX-P42GT50 if your living room is particularly bright. But for most people the P42GT50 is another Panasonic snorter.

Also consider

Obviously your first decision will be whether to go for the ST50 series, the GT50 series, or the VT50 series from Panasonic's plasma range. We've covered the differences here in the main review, but briefly the ST50 is brilliant value, while the VT50 TVs deliver the absolute nth degree of performance, two pairs of free 3D glasses and a (not very good) second remote control.

Aside from other Panasonic screens, the closest rival for the Panasonic TX-P42GT50 on pure image quality grounds is Sony's 40HX853. The HX853 series has blown us away this year by combining superb black levels with outstanding detailing and some excellent colours, resulting in the best pictures yet seen from an LCD TV.

They hold up better than Panasonic's in bright room conditions too, and they're also slightly cheaper than Panasonic's relatively high-end TVs. However, they still don't do black levels as well as the Panasonic TX-P42GT50, and aren't quite as utterly involving when watching films in suitably cinematic conditions.

Other obvious rivals would be the Samsung 40ES7000 and LG 42LM660T. The Samsung scores major points for its stunning slim design and class-leading online services and interface, and its images look spectacular with bright content. It suffers backlight consistencies or looks a little flat (depending on your settings) with dark movie scenes, though.

The LG offers a good alternative if you're a 3D fan because it uses passive technology, which is easier and cheaper for large groups of people to watch. Its pictures also look very engaging with bright content, its online services are in many ways great, and its design is as good as that of the Samsung.

But it, too, struggles with dark scenes a bit, with either rather greyed-over black colours or - depending on your image settings - some light blocking around bright objects in otherwise dark scenes.