Panasonic tx-p42vt20 3

In general, the P42VT20B does a sterling job with 2D material, even broadcast TV. There is little difference between Freeview, Freesat and Sky when watching a standard-definition show such as the gripping Homes Under The Hammer.

The built-in HD tuners however don't quite match Sky HD for detail. Pleasingly, of course (but worth repeating), being a plasma, there is no restriction to the set's viewing angle.

Naturally, the screen really excels with HD content such as Mad Men on the BBC HD channel, sport such as football and golf on Sky and Blu-ray movies. Sky News HD and Sky Sports News HD look excellent with the panels at the side and bottom of the screen looking superbly detailed.

Blu-ray performance

Avatar on Blu-ray is an absolute knockout in terms of its overall impact and naturalistic colour fidelity but the screen doesn't quite match the giddy heights of Samsung's 8000 series LCDs for detail, especially in darker areas. Black levels are as good as you could possibly hope for, though.

With Sky's 3D channel now live there's never been a more relevant time to test a 3D screen. The first weekend of Sky 3D was largely dedicated to Ryder Cup golf with a couple of movies (Monsters vs Aliens and Ice Age 2: Dawn of the Dinosaurs) and some sporting archive footage filling in the gaps.

We also spun the 3D Blu-ray of MvA and, despite the drop in resolution, the broadcast version held up well in terms of clarity and detail.

With all the 3D material there are times when scenes look three dimensional and times when they don't. With Ice Age the overall 3D impact was so low it's barely worth the bother. Golf is a real mixed bag too, with some drab skies doing the depth perception no favours.

Shots just above the greens in bright sunlight look much deeper but, contrary to Sky's claim that you can get closer to the action, this has the effect of making people appear further away and therefore seem smaller.

Sports in 3D

Football does seem made for 3D with a higher percentage of shots delivering real depth but it's like being Gulliver in Lilliput watching a bunch of miniature people running around. The only thing that comes closer to you than the screen is the scorecard and onscreen logo, which appear to sit a couple of feet in front of the screen.

It's noticeable that you don't get as many close-ups and the reduction in resolution actually makes you feel less immersed in the action. What you see is different and interesting, but not superior to HD. Another factor is that maybe 42in is simply too small for effective 3D.

When it comes to cross talk (ghosting around objects) there's hardly any ghosting when watching Sky but it's still very evident when watching the MvA Blu-ray.