It's fair to say that Panasonic has had a pretty good year, thanks predominantly to the critical and commercial success of its latest 3D plasma models.
The Panasonic TV under scrutiny today, though, the TX-P42S30B, is not a 3D model. Nor does it enjoy the new slender design sported by many of Panasonic's latest 3D TVs, or Panasonic's latest NeoPlasma screen technology; it relies instead on 2010's NeoPDP system.
So why should you care? Because the P42S30B is so affordable, for a start. Panasonic quotes a price of around £800, but a quick Internet search finds it going for as little as £500, which qualifies as a massive bargain for a new 42-inch plasma TV bearing the Panasonic name.
Also, even Panasonic's 2010 plasma panel technology is still a cut above the quality of most rival plasma sets, and the P42S30 manages to retain Panasonic's Viera Connect online service despite its affordability. It delivers a full HD resolution too, which is actually rare in the 42-inch plasma world.
Surprisingly the P42S30 is the only model in the S30 range; there are no other size options. So if you want a 50-inch Panasonic plasma set that doesn't have 3D, you'll have to step up to the TX-P50G30B (which adds Panasonic's contrast-boosting Infinite Black technology plus THX accreditation and USB recording), or down to the P50U30B (which doesn't have any contrast filters or multimedia/online playback options).
The P42S30 does have, of course, a 3D 'cousin': the P42ST30, which benefits from Panasonic's latest NeoPlasma panel design.
But if you're still reading this review, then presumably you haven't fallen under 3D's spell, and are instead interested in what sort of quality the P42S30 might serve up for so little money.