Panasonic TX-42AS500 review

A great smart TV for a very reasonable price

Panasonic TX-42AS500

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What I like best about the TX-42AS500 is My Home Screen. More specifically, the way it treats live TV in the TV Home Screen hub page. An active window of live TV or a Blu-ray disc can be busy playing in a window that takes-up around two-thirds of the screen, while a list of TV channels can be scrolled though, and photos stored on a USB stick are shown on a carousel along the bottom.

This is customised simplicity, and it's great. It's even possible to operate a Blu-ray player – such as skip scenes, pause and fast-forward – without having to go full-screen.

Highly intuitive, and speedy to navigate and load, My Home Screen also offers the choice of a lifestyle screen (note-taking, news apps, a clock and calendar) and an info screen (web browser bookmarks, Skype and social networking apps).

Each page has a link to My Home Cloud, which is less successful; it leads to a four-way split between Screen Market (a choice of backgrounds), Apps Market, shopping (for accessories like 3D glasses, which doesn't apply here) and Family & Friends (a cloud-based text and voice message service, which requires an account as well as a Panasonic-branded family).

Panasonic TX-42AS500

The My Home Screen page lets you browse smart TV content while keeping an eye on whatever you're watching

Despite this page being of less than core interest (everything here is also available as shortcuts on the Apps page), it still manages to show a live TV/Blu-ray thumbnail in the corner of the screen, complete with sound.

That apps page impresses, too, hosting shortcuts in a Samsung-esque grid. Accessed via a dedicated button on the TV's remote control, there are five lines; the top holds adverts, the second links to TV functions like the Media Player. The third is for apps and the fourth for add-ons like screen mirroring, calendar, and other superfluous stuff. The fifth line – consisting of seven gaps – is for you to fill with your own downloaded apps. It's an intuitive and uncluttered user interface that works really well on the TX-42AS500.

File support over DLNA and from a USB thumbdrive is excellent; in my test the TX-42AS500 played MKV, AVI, MP4, WMV, WMV HD and FLV video files, while also playing music in MP3, AAC, WMA, FLAC and WAV formats.

Better still, all video files receive a live and dynamically changing thumbnail image with images drawn from the file itself. Previous versions of media player software have often promised this but failed to deliver, so it's good to see it in action at last.

Panasonic TX-42AS500

You don't really need it, but the traditional programme guide is there nonetheless

Since My Home Screen rules the roost, the TX-42AS500 doesn't really need an electronic programme guide, but one is provided nevertheless. It's the standard grid showing seven channels and two hours of schedules, but unlike on some cheaper Panasonic TVs this one does have a live TV thumbnail with audio.

As well as the standard remote control which is a slab of the usual Panasonic brilliance (long, well-weighted and with buttons in easy-to-reach places), Panasonic has just released its Panasonic Remote 2 app for iOS and Android, which adds the awesome Swipe & Share feature. Though it's limited to MP4 video files, JPEG photos, and MP3 and WAV music files, Swipe & Share allows files to be streamed to and from a smartphone/tablet and the TX-42AS500.


The TX-42AS500 is plenty loud enough for even a large living room, though the sound it emits is rather basic. Thin around the mid-range, it nevertheless boasts enough bass and treble detail for most speech-based TV programmes.

Its two down-firing 20W speakers enjoy a few dedicated audio modes – among them music and speech – though I settled on the former for everything.

For some reason the speech mode, while offering just as much boosted treble detail as the music mode, removes almost all of the low frequency action.

The surround mode, meanwhile, is ineffective and doesn't even appear to widen the sense of stereo.

There's a setting for the speaker distance to wall – up to or over 30cm – though the former appears to clip the treble and clips 's' sounds in speech.


Get the TX-42AS500 for close to £400 and it's a steal, though bear in mind that what you're paying for is My Home Screen and all those smart TV goodies. The TX-42AS500's dual HDMI inputs aren't good value in comparison to the rest of the market, and nor are its average-to-good pictures.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and He also edits two of his own websites, and that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),