Panasonic TX-P42ST30B review

An ugly, yet affordable 3D plasma capable of delivering very impressive pictures

Panasonic TX-P42ST30B
An ugly plasma TV but one that produces good pictures at a decent price

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Panasonic tx-p42st30b

The TX-P42ST30B's images, both with 2D and 3D sources, are generally of a higher quality than those on previous generations of Panasonic plasmas, with the fast-switching phosphor having an unarguably beneficial affect on 3D images.

With the Monsters vs Aliens 3D Blu-ray platter the scenes with strong vertical objects (such as the church spire and Golden Gate Bridge) show very little crosstalk so that you don't feel aware of any image lag. This helps create a strong overall 3D experience.

With Sky, however, the loss of resolution caused by the side-by-side system is felt keenly on the TX-P42ST30B. During Avatar on Sky 3D, for example, the scene where Sully emerges from stasis simply doesn't have the incredible depth of the floating hanger. The same movie on 2D Blu-ray shows just how much clarity the screen is capable of rendering with exceptional detail of Sully's face when he listens to the commander's 'Welcome to Pandora' speech.

Watching sport on Sky 3D is fine, because you get drawn into the action but dramas lack the wow factor that the additional clarity can add.

As a 2D screen the TX-P42ST30B is capable of some excellent images. It is a bit soft at times, but fare such as Human Planet on BBC HD Freeview and live cricket on Sky Sports HD show that colour fidelity is accurate, contrast levels and shadow detail are strong and problems such as banding and colour flashes are negligible.

The excellent Bored to Death on Sky Atlantic HD shows that motion judder with fast panning can be a problem depending on the speed of the pan and proximity of the subject to the camera but engaging IFC's lowest setting takes care of it without introducing detrimental artefacts.

On the other hand, the title scenes from Mad Men have never seemed so harshly processed, with grey specs appearing on the panel, yet particularly impressive is the solidity of a very dark scene from To Catch a Thief in both HD and standard-def (on Sky), something which often breaks up on poorer screens.

With any TV there are going to be occasions where what you're watching doesn't suit the screen's setting and you do have to find the right ones for different material. The vast skies in No Country for Old Men on Blu-ray are noisy and though engaging P-NR can reduce this, the softening is noticeable, but slight, and the image remains intensely watchable.

No Country for Old Men is also a great test for IFC and this panel makes a much better job than previous incarnations. With 24p Smooth Film set to off there's slight judder and no image artefacts, set it to mid or max and there's no judder with just a very slight halo trail.

Movies and stills viewed on Flash memory devices look very strong and are quickly and easily navigated. But file compatibility is not the greatest and we had no joy with several .MPG, .M4V, AVCHD and M2TS rips, no sound with one .MP4 but success with DiVx files and some .M4Vs. Expectations should be adjusted accordingly.