Panasonic's widget TV platform is VieraCast, in line with its range of Viera LCD and plasma screens. The TX-PV42V10 is a classy-looking 42in plasma using Panasonic's NeoPDP panel – a new technology that reduces the thickness, weight and energy consumption of the panel but retains brightness.
Besides an Ethernet port for networking, the TV has four HDMI ports (one side mounted), SD card reader for multimedia files, digital audio output and tuners for analogue, Freeview and Freesat. The remote control is tidy, as is the onscreen menu.
The media server function accesses content from computers sharing your network, but only digital photos or videos in MPEG2 and DivX-based formats will work That means no audio formats or myriad of other video types. Direct playback of AVC-HD is possible from SD card as well as DivX.
VieraCast has a good menu of widgets. The main options are YouTube, EuroSport and Google's Picasa photo hosting site. Videos can be expanded to full-screen, albeit in low quality so far.
Several menu spaces were vacant at the time of writing but there's potential here because the browsing speed is faster than the Philips or Samsung equivalents. Text entry is via responsive numerical keys on the remote.
Panasonic TVs usually impress from the off, but this took longer. It's one of the few TVs with THX certification and there's a pre-calibrated mode set to meet this set of criteria for optimum picture quality. Oddly, you can't adjust colour temperature in THX mode.
For HD, we achieved good results using a different picture preset, then altering that to switch off overscanning (meaning no scaling from source to screen), setting colour temperature to Cool and delving into 'Other Settings' to deactivate Intelligent Frame Creation processing. IFC analyses motion and inserts extra frames to remove judder; the drawback is that it makes films look artificial and detail can get distorted.
Compared with the superb 1080p Blu-ray playback, 1080i HDTV images look slightly softer than they did on the Samsung LE40B651. Audio quality is also as solid as flatpanel TVs get.
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