Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
The P42ST60 doesn't get off to a particularly auspicious start, thanks to its slightly dour design and having only three HDMIs rather than the four we'd like to have seen.
Things take a big turn for the better, though, once you get hands-on with its inspired My Home Screen interface. This does an unprecedentedly great job of personalising the smart TV experience, and is so easy to use your nan could do it.
The star of the P42ST60's show, though, is its picture quality, especially when you're up for some serious film viewing. Its black response is peerless for its price point, its colours are gorgeously rich but also subtle, and motion – in 2D at least – is crisp and clean.
Pictures need to be watched in relatively dark conditions to look their best, but provided they're willing to accommodate this little foible, home cinephiles will be hard pressed indeed to find more cinematic images for so little money.
Outstanding black levels, rich colours and clean motion handling help the P42ST60 produce stellar images for its money. Its smart interface is inspired and really simplifies the experience of using the TV. Its viewing angle is much wider than that of rival LCD technology, and finally it's good value for the quality on offer.
There are some motion issues with 3D, there are only three HDMIs, pictures can look noisy when driven hard, you should try to dim the lights to get the best out of the TV, and the online service would benefit from the addition of a few more good-quality video streaming platforms.
Don't be put off by the lack of glamour exhibited by the P42ST60's exterior: inside beats a home cinema heart of gold with levels of contrast, light uniformity and colour accuracy you get only with a Panasonic plasma. This is joined, moreover, by a good 3D performance, above average audio, and a brilliantly friendly smart TV interface.
You could do even better if you step up to Panasonic's GT60 series, but if you can't find the extra £200 or so needed for that the P42ST60 really is excellent for its money. Especially if you can show it the respect of dimming your lights while you watch it.
With the writing on the wall for Panasonic's plasma TVs, the P42ST60 provides a compelling reason for snapping up a prime sample of the TV tech while you still can.
LG and Samsung are the only other two brands still making plasma TVs now, with the closest rivals to the P42ST60 from each of these brands' plasma ranges being the LG 50PH660V and the Samsung PS51F5500.
The LG model is too far behind the Panasonic in picture quality terms to really justify your attention - despite being 50 inches across and costing less than £600. But while the Samsung isn't quite as good as the Panasonic, it's not far behind and costs just £140 more for an extra nine inches of screen. Plus it offers a more content-rich (if not as friendly) Smart TV system.
Want to spend a bit less? See our cheap TV buying guide.
John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.