Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

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

TODO alt text

We're not expecting fireworks from an HD-ready panel, but the TX-P42X50B quickly gets into its stride by presenting us with very watchable pictures from Freeview HD – albeit with the lights off.

During Fifth Gear from Dave we noticed strong contrast and well saturated, natural-looking colours (we settled on the Cinema setting).

In terms of detail, Fifth Gear looked clean enough to watch, though it's not perfect; finely detailed dark-on-bright picture elements – such as the ribs of a window – do break-up, and there is some low-res jumpiness to super-quick camera pans, rapid credit rolls, and around some moving objects – though there's no blur or streaking.

Although it suppresses lo-res noise reasonably well – also evident on our Children of Men DVD – the TX-P42X50B manages to make fast cars and action sequences whizz across the screen without any visible judder or added softness.

It might start with less native resolution than a Full HD LED TV, for instance, but its motion handling means it loses far, far less to blur than its rival panel tech.

Open the curtains to streams of sunshine and the situation changes somewhat. Suddenly the contrast doesn't seem half as convincing, and we did notice some reflections, too.

The brighter Dynamic preset is best avoided since it gives everyone a fake tan, so we'd advise the TX-P42X50B is used in as least dingy surroundings as possible for the very best results.

Putting the TX-P42X50B into Game mode, we tried out a few tracks on the Forza Horizon demo from an Xbox 360.

Panasonic TX P42X50B review

As a camera shot sweeps across a forest, that luscious motion handling is immediately obvious once again, though Game mode is a tad too bright in a darkened home cinema setting; we switched to the Cinema setting relatively quickly.

There's hardly a twitch in terms of graphics, thanks to that smoothness, while oodles of contrast lends the Colorado roads a convincing look and feel.

Engaging Hugo on Blu-ray – again with the cinema setting (True Cinema just seems a bit yellowy), we at last notice a slight drop in detail compared to watching a Full HD screen, though the opening sequence of snow flakes has never looked smoother.

Ditto the sweeping shot along the station platform, where passengers don't look quite as much like cardboard cut-outs as on Full HD screens, though to thank for that is the double-act of contrast and colour as much as motion handling.