Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

By making the mediocre look marvelous, this great value HD-ready TV makes a compelling argument for plasma

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Having adapted to the idea of an HD-ready resolution (1024x768 pixels, to be exact) on the TX-P42X50B, what we're immediately concerned with is restrictive ins and outs; so often the Achilles heel of affordable TVs.

And in practice, this is perhaps where the TX-P42X50B does stumble; we counted just two HDMI inputs (one with an Audio Return Channel), both on the rear panel, which will make it tricky to hook up more than, say, a PVR and a games console.

Panasonic TX P42X50B review

Elsewhere we spotted just a single USB (2.0) slot on the side-panel, which sits alongside an SDCX Card slot, a headphones jack and a Common Interface slot.

Panasonic TX P42X50B review

Alongside those are component video inputs and some accompanying phonos, a Scart, a digital audio output, and an Ethernet LAN port (despite the lack of any web-based functionality; it's here as a hangover from the original Freeview HD spec, and serves zero purposes). If only if could have been sacrificed for a third HDMI.

No home networking, then, but at least the USB and SDXC Card slots can get involved with the playback of digital files.

The TX-P42X50B possesses a G15 Progressive HD Plasma Display Panel fitted with a 600 Hz Sub-Field Drive, which ought to mean motion is handled smoothly, though it's the quoted figure of 3,500,000:1 native contrast ratio that most surprised us.

The TX-P42X50B also includes a Game mode, which ups the image response and boosts the contrast.

Panasonic TX P42X50B review

The final feature of any note on what is a rather basic spec is Eco Navigation, an option in the on-screen menus that allows a one-touch energy-saving set-up; cue a dimming of the panel's brightness using an ambient light sensor. Ditto C.A.T.S (Contrast Automatic Tracking System), which does mean a considerable drop in brightness – it works OK in a blackout, but it's best avoided in normal daylight.