Panasonic tx-p42v20 5

With a heritage and spec sheet suggesting that the P42V20 is effectively one of Panasonic's superb 3D TVs minus the 3D, we expected great things from it even before we'd got it out of its box. And it doesn't let us down, at least where picture quality is concerned.

Thanks to its advanced Infinite Black Pro technology, in fact, it even manages to improve on the already terrific images of Panasonic's G20 series, producing the sort of natural, cinematic contrast range and superbly saturated colour palette most LCD rivals can only dream about.

Panasonic has even managed, for a change, to introduce the sort of calibration flexibility beloved of AV enthusiasts, as well as offering a suite of multimedia functions - including direct broadcast recording to USB HDD - to help create a cutting edge feel.

We liked

The picture quality from the P42V20 is truly exceptional, with its immense and genuine contrast range working wonders on our favourite films and video games. The quality doesn't reduce even if you have to watch the screen from a wide viewing angle either, making it a great choice for people with large families or unusual room layouts.

Its sound is decent for a flat TV, too, and we got plenty of mileage out of its various multimedia tools.

We disliked

We can't help but think that a TV as advanced as the P42V20 would have benefited from a slightly more adventurous design, though the grey colour is preferable to Panasonic's usual black.

Also, its Viera Cast online platform isn't quite as prolific in content terms as some rival platforms, and the set's fussiness in terms of USB HDD compatibility with its recording option is annoying.

Finally, there's a hint of dotting over skin tones and people with lots of ambient light to contend with might wish for a little more brightness from the P42V20's pictures.

Verdict

We weren't sure the P42V20 could fit comfortably into the gap between Panasonic's excellent G20 range and the 3D-ready VT20 series - not least because the G20 plasma models have already produced so much quality that we didn't think we'd feel the need for a step-up model.

But the P42V20 really does offer a performance boost over its G20 equivalent, and so more than justifies its existence to anyone willing to pay a little more to get the best quality they can.

It's a shame Panasonic didn't build the P42V20 into a more glamorously sculpted body, but aside from that it's easily one of the best 42in TVs we've ever seen.

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