Panasonic tx-p42s20

The P42S20 is much more interesting than we'd expected it to be thanks to its Freeview HD tuner and the way it brings Panasonic's NeoPDP technology down to a new price point.

However, after spending quality time in its presence, we also have to say that it doesn't do quite enough to blow all the competition out of the water or fully justify its price relative to some of the other 40-42in TVs currently available.

In the end, how desirable the P42S20 is boils down to your individual viewing habits and circumstances. If you spend a lot of your time watching Blu-rays or other HD content, for instance, its HD pictures make it a tantalising prospect. Also, if you or members of your family regularly have to watch TV from a significant angle, we'd strongly advise you to consider this plasma over the vast majority of LCD alternatives.

However, if standard definition pictures make up the majority of your viewing time, viewing angles aren't a problem and/or you have a lot of ambient light in your room, you might be better auditioning the best LCD models instead.

We liked:

Finding a built-in Freeview HD tuner on any TV at the moment is a boon, and we were also very happy to find the P42S20 carrying Panasonic's NeoPDP technology - even if it was only 2009's NeoPDP incarnation.

The P42S20 has a full HD resolution too, something which remains difficult to achieve within a 42in plasma screen.

When it comes to performance, meanwhile, it's a frequently very good HD performer, and its sound is pretty effective too.

We disliked:

Not providing the P42S20 with a D-Sub PC port seems a strange choice for Panasonic to make on a TV that isn't even their entry level model. A USB port to go with the SD card slot would have been appreciated too.

The P42S20 also suffers with some slightly strange colour tones, especially when you're watching standard definition, and doesn't look as forensically sharp with HD as some of its rivals.

Verdict:

The P42S20's plasma technology offers certain advantages - good motion handling, wide viewing angle, natural black levels - that few if any LCD rivals can match, making it an almost default purchase for some buyers with particular conditions to satisfy. But it's also got too many flaws to be a true, LCD-crushing plasma classic.

This review was written in conjunction with:

What Video & Hi-Def TV magazine

What video