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Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

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

Our Verdict

For

  • Unbeatable value
  • File support via USB
  • SDXC Card slot
  • 2D Blu-ray quality
  • Versatile pictures

Against

  • Two HDMI
  • No smart TV apps
  • Lacks brightness
  • Limited shelf-life

Usability

What puts a lot of people off buying a plasma is 'screen burn' – also known, more descriptively, as image retention – though it's largely a scurrilous rumour, rather than a reality.

Here, a 'pixel orbiter' can be set to subtly move images around the screen by a few pixels to stave of image retention (it's not noticeable), while the 'scrolling bar' is worth engaging now and again if you do notice any echoes of previous on-screen images; it drags a white stripe across the screen – though in test we didn't notice any such issues with the TX-P42X50B.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

Given theTX-P42X50B technical constraints, it's pleasing to witness some fairly comprehensive handling of digital media.

Virtually everything we threw at the TX-P42X50B – be it AVI, MKV, MOV, WMV or evenWMV HD – it played, complete with preview thumbnail. The exceptions were MP4 and AVC HD videos, the latter of which the TX-P42X50B claims to display.

MP3, M4A and WMA music files all played without problems.

Not so Freeview HD. Though it presents TV schedules for the next two hours – and up to eight days – across seven channels on a single page, Panasonic's interface for Freeview is not good.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

It's grid-like, uses an old-fashioned font, and while most of its competitors have a thumbnail of the present live TV channel playing in one of the corners, complete with sound, the TX-P42X50B has neither.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

Elsewhere the user interface is at least simple and logical, though picture settings are limited. As well as dedicated picture presents for Cinema, True Cinema, Dynamic and Normal, there are simple toggles for contrast, brightness, sharpness and colour.

Sound

Fitted with a couple of 10W speakers, the TX-P42X50B has a decent stab at audio.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

The music-heavy soundtrack to Forza Horizon is dealt with most adeptly by the V-Audio mode, which adds a little bass and width, though V-Audio Surround proved best with movies (we even noticed some sound effects appearing to come from the sides of the room).

Meanwhile, an MP3 of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues sounds reasonably wide, but flat in the middle; V-Audio successfully adds the width and boosts the vocal, but for some reason does away with some bass.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

Either way, the TX-P42X50B does better than most, but don't pack away your home cinema just yet.

Value

There are few better-value televisions than the TX-P42X50B.

Some might scoff at an HD-ready panel, but its presence here is invaluable; reducing the cost of the TX-P42X50B by around a third.

The low resolution has further advantages in that it's far kinder to low-resolution sources. And in the modern digital living room, that's quite a boon – especially since the TX-P42X50B also plays fair with digital video files.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B review

As well as the basic elements of picture quality all being present and correct, the TX-P42X50 also boasts both a Freeview HD tuner and one of the better built-in sound systems we've clapped our ears on of late.

As an all-in-one for the living room, the TX-P42X50B is about as close as you're going to get – and though some will consider its 61cm depth, and lack of both apps and a Full HD resolution (it's precisely half the resolution of a Full HD model) too much of a come-down, none of that should be expected on a sub-£400 telly.

For undemanding users purely after smooth, reliable and forgiving picture quality, the TX-P42X50B is unbeatable.

Tech Specs

Product TypePlasma TV
Scan Format720p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-T (MPEG4)
Analog TunerPAL
Video Signal StandardHDTV
Number of HDMI Ports2
Number of SCART Interfaces1
Product FamilyViera X50
EU Energy LabelB
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size106.7 cm (42")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH
Memory Card ReaderYes
EthernetYes
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)17.50 kg
Operating Power Consumption150 W
Standby Power Consumption400 mW
RMS Output Power20 W
Electronic Program GuideYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand657 mm
Width with Stand1007 mm
Depth with Stand231 mm
CI+Yes
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
Teletext Memory1000
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Number of USB Ports1
Energy Consumption per Year139 kWh
Enhanced Refresh Rate600 Hz
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD), Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Height615 mm
Width1007 mm
Depth81 mm
Sound SystemDolby Digital Plus, Virtual Surround Sound, DTS
Product SeriesX50
Maximum Resolution1024 x 768
FeaturesMedia Player, Picture and Text (PAT), Teletext, PC Streaming, Web Content Access
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelTX-P42X50B
Product NameTX-P42X50B 42" Viera Plasma TV
Product LineViera
Manufacturer Part NumberTX-P42X50B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

42" VIERA Plasma TV - An HD Round Performer with a Large Screen
600Hz technology lets you view superb motion images. For even greater clarity with motion images, Panasonic uses its own unique image-analysis technology. This technology converts the motion in each scene into data. And each frame is practically displayed for a shorter length of time than in previous systems, to reduce aftereffects. When using Cinema mode.

SpeakersYes
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)16 kg