What puts a lot of people off buying a plasma is 'screen burn' – also known, more descriptively, as image retention – though it's largely a scurrilous rumour, rather than a reality.
Here, a 'pixel orbiter' can be set to subtly move images around the screen by a few pixels to stave of image retention (it's not noticeable), while the 'scrolling bar' is worth engaging now and again if you do notice any echoes of previous on-screen images; it drags a white stripe across the screen – though in test we didn't notice any such issues with the TX-P42X50B.
Given theTX-P42X50B technical constraints, it's pleasing to witness some fairly comprehensive handling of digital media.
Virtually everything we threw at the TX-P42X50B – be it AVI, MKV, MOV, WMV or evenWMV HD – it played, complete with preview thumbnail. The exceptions were MP4 and AVC HD videos, the latter of which the TX-P42X50B claims to display.
MP3, M4A and WMA music files all played without problems.
Not so Freeview HD. Though it presents TV schedules for the next two hours – and up to eight days – across seven channels on a single page, Panasonic's interface for Freeview is not good.
It's grid-like, uses an old-fashioned font, and while most of its competitors have a thumbnail of the present live TV channel playing in one of the corners, complete with sound, the TX-P42X50B has neither.
Elsewhere the user interface is at least simple and logical, though picture settings are limited. As well as dedicated picture presents for Cinema, True Cinema, Dynamic and Normal, there are simple toggles for contrast, brightness, sharpness and colour.
Fitted with a couple of 10W speakers, the TX-P42X50B has a decent stab at audio.
The music-heavy soundtrack to Forza Horizon is dealt with most adeptly by the V-Audio mode, which adds a little bass and width, though V-Audio Surround proved best with movies (we even noticed some sound effects appearing to come from the sides of the room).
Meanwhile, an MP3 of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues sounds reasonably wide, but flat in the middle; V-Audio successfully adds the width and boosts the vocal, but for some reason does away with some bass.
Either way, the TX-P42X50B does better than most, but don't pack away your home cinema just yet.
There are few better-value televisions than the TX-P42X50B.
Some might scoff at an HD-ready panel, but its presence here is invaluable; reducing the cost of the TX-P42X50B by around a third.
The low resolution has further advantages in that it's far kinder to low-resolution sources. And in the modern digital living room, that's quite a boon – especially since the TX-P42X50B also plays fair with digital video files.
As well as the basic elements of picture quality all being present and correct, the TX-P42X50 also boasts both a Freeview HD tuner and one of the better built-in sound systems we've clapped our ears on of late.
As an all-in-one for the living room, the TX-P42X50B is about as close as you're going to get – and though some will consider its 61cm depth, and lack of both apps and a Full HD resolution (it's precisely half the resolution of a Full HD model) too much of a come-down, none of that should be expected on a sub-£400 telly.
For undemanding users purely after smooth, reliable and forgiving picture quality, the TX-P42X50B is unbeatable.