Does everybody need a Full HD TV?

Blu-ray discs demand a 1920x1080 pixel resolution, but for anyone without a Blu-ray player – and no plans to get one anytime soon – spending out on resolution that you won't use is a waste of money.

Step forward this deliciously dependable 42-inch HD-ready plasma. It may have a list price of almost £600, but we've seen the TX-P42X50B selling for under £400 online – and that makes this one of the bargain TVs of 2012.

Why do we dare to make such a pronouncement about an HD-ready TV? In truth we've had our eye on Panasonic's more basic plasmas for some years, and this is merely the latest in a very long line of plasma TVs that treat both dodgy and high-quality sources seemingly equally.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

That makes it ideal for this in-between age of TV where Freeview HD only contains four hi-def channels, and all are broadcast in 720p quality.

Most games played on the Xbox 360 or PS3 are rendered in 720p quality, too, or upscaled – at least for now – making the TX-P42X50B technically absolutely fine for most households.

As adept with DVD as any TV we've seen this year, the major downsides of the TX-P42X50B for movie fans will be both its lack of Full HD resolution for Blu-ray discs, and the absence of any streaming movie apps.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

VIERA Connect is missing from the TX-P42X50B, but you'll do well to find any smart-ness on TVs under the £600 mark.

However, it's not like the TX-P42X50B is living completely in the dark ages; digital media can be played from a USB stick as well as from an SDXC Card – and this is one of the few TVs around sporting the latter.

That's a bit of a boon for photographers, though arguably anyone seriously into imaging should head for a Full HD set.

A possible drawback for some will be the TX-P42X50B's drab styling. Though perfectly acceptable just a few years ago, its combination of a 61.5cm depth (and a little more if you count the speakers that protrude out of the rear), 32mm-wide black plastic bezel and generally industrial gloss black design won't suit everyone.

Also available

While the Panasonic TX-P42X50B is joined in the X50 Series by the 50-inch Panasonic TX-P50X50B, these two plasmas comprise the Japanese brand's only two HD-ready plasmas – and also the only two that aren't 3D-ready.

On the next rung up the VIERA ladder is the 42-inch Panasonic TX-P42UT50B (£600), which is something of an upgrade: it's adorned by 1080p Full HD resolution, VIERA Connect smart TV apps and active shutter 3D.

Other 42-inch plasmas in the stable include the Panasonic TX-P42ST50 and Panasonic TX-P42GT50, both of which sport Full HD resolutions and contrast-boosting filters, though Edge LED TVs are also available.

Consider the 42-inch Panasonic TX-L42ET5B, a polarised 'passive' 3DTV that includes a stunning four pairs of 3D glasess as well as VEIRA Connect apps, or the active shutter alternative, the Panasonic TX-L42ET50B.

Meanwhile, the step-up 42-inch Panasonic TX-L42DT50B and high-end, dual-core-processor laden Panasonic TX-L42WT50B impress, though both cost considerably more than this plasma.