It all started with this screen size. When Panasonic and its competitors introduced their first plasmas at the beginning of the flat-panel era, the screen diagonal was 42 inches (1.06 meters) across the board. For a long time, manufacturers were happy simply to be able to produce a working panel of this size.
But, times change: In comparison to current flat-panels with 55-inch (1.4-meter) screens, the once-marveled 42-inch screen looks almost pitiful. Still, TVs much bigger than 42 inches simply don’t fit into many European living rooms, and since this is the common plasma size, the customer can expect it to offer the best price-for-performance ratio. In the later part of this article, we take a look at what the competition has to offer in the same size and price class.
Initially, Panasonic used plasma displays in all of its flat-panel TVs. This remains the case for the TX-P 42 G 10, which contains a twelfth-generation plasma panel. Compared to its predecessors, this generation claims to use significantly less power – Televisions.com’s tests have confirmed this in a closely related model, the TX-P 42 GW 10.
Panasonic also boasts that its “Toughpanel” screen will withstand the impact of a ball bearing. The 42-inch, GW 10-series cousin displays HDTV pictures in maximum sharpness, with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (“full HD”). At typical viewing distances, however, you won’t necessarily see the increased detail of full HD on a screen of this size.
Nevertheless, the higher resolution won’t do any harm, and if you move a little closer to the TV, you will of course see all of the picture’s detail. You can find details on the ideal viewing distance in our “TV Buying Guide”.
Panasonic refuses to be outdone: Since Sony started advertizing 200-Hertz technology, Panasonic has countered with “600 Hz Intelligent Frame Creation Pro”. But if you look closely at the corresponding logo, you’ll notice the affix “sfd”, which stands for “Sub Field Drive”.
Plasma screens produce a visible image in a different way from CRTs or LCD TVs, resulting in a rate of 600 Hz at the level of individual pixels. In reality, however, the TX-P 42 G 10 is a 100-Hertz TV. The “Intelligent Frame Creation” promises fluid motion. Actually, this war of numbers is totally irrelevant – higher values don’t necessarily guarantee better picture quality. Televisions.com has already carried out extensive testing on the TX-P 42 GW 10 – check out our full review to see what it’s capable of.
The most important results in brief:
The “Cinema” preset delivers an almost ideal picture. The 42-inch plasma’s impressive, extremely detailed picture outstrips most of its LCD rivals. We did notice a bit of flicker with special test patterns, but the flicker won’t disturb everyday TV viewing. DVD movies show a little flicker along diagonal lines.
The 42-inch GW-10 model displays HDTV signals with perfect pixel mapping, but interlaced signals, such as sports broadcasts or concert recordings, show some flicker – again along diagonal lines. With a 24p movie signal from a Blu-ray disc, the TX-P 42 GW 10 reproduces the usual movie judder correctly.
Colors only deviate slightly from the ideal, and the picture’s contrast is perfect. Furthermore, the picture impression remains the same from every viewing angle – this is typical of plasma technology. For these reasons and more, the TX-P 42 G 10 is ideal for the home-theater.
In this series, Panasonic concentrates on the TV’s essential capabilities: displaying moving pictures from the built-in tuner or from one of the AV inputs. The TX-P 42 G 10 has a slot for SD and SDHC memory cards, allowing it to play back JPEG photos and AVCHD video clips, but this plasma offers no other multimedia extras.
The TV receives analog cable signals and – where still in use – analog terrestrial signals, as well as DVB-T, DVB-C, and DVB-S. It also supports HD for all digital standards. In principle, therefore, the TV is equipped for all current reception methods – all that remains is the pesky question of digital-cable access systems.
Some cable networks have decided on using CI Plus to control access, but this is not supported on the TX-P 42 G 10. Channels using CI encryption, as opposed to CI Plus, will still display without problems, but future channels may require an additional set-top box. For this reason, Panasonic doesn’t advertize the TV’s digital-cable tuner in many EU countries. Satellite-TV viewers, on the other hand, will have everything they need for free-to-view channels – an external receiver will only be necessary for Pay-TV channels.
The UK version of the TV is adapted to the country’s cable services and supports the freesat system that began operating in 2008. The TV’s analog inputs accept video signals in the PAL, Secam, and NTSC formats.
The TV offers a practical set of connections: Two Scart sockets (both RGB capable, one S-Video capable) should be enough to accommodate older devices such as a VHS recorder or DVD player. The two HDMI inputs on the back of the TV fall short of luxury, but will probably suffice in many cases.
A flap on the front of the TV conceals a third HDMI input. Under the flap, you’ll also find a camcorder connections panel with a Mini-DIN socket for S-Video signals and a cinch input for composite video signals, along with a slot for SD memory cards and a 3.5-millimeter-jack headphone output.
Although a little on the heavy side, the remote control sits comfortably in the user’s hand. Most of the buttons are clearly laid out, and the particularly important buttons – for volume and channel changing – are a decent size.
The positioning of the “N” button, which returns all picture settings to their factory values, could have done with a bit more thought -the button is immediately beside the menu button, making accidental presses almost unavoidable.
The on-screen menu looks basic, but reads easily and has a logical structure – inexperienced users will have no problem finding their way around. The channel-search process sorts the channels into the usual order for the user’s country.
Design / Model Variants
The TX-P 42 G 10 only comes in black.
Panasonic gives instructions for wall-mounting the TV using an optional tilting bracket, the TY-WK 4 P 1 RW, but doesn’t list this product on its UK website. Display-mounting manufacturer dekomount offers a universal tilting bracket (DM102, 39 GBP) that should fit the TX-P 42 G10.
Alternative models: A brief comparison
LG 42 LH 7000
This rival model from LG sells for roughly the same as the Panasonic online, but its tuner is inferior. It accepts digital cable TV and DVB-T – both in high resolution where broadcasts exist – but not satellite TV. And, like the Panasonic, it lacks CI Plus support for digital cable.
The LG also offers sophisticated picture processing: Fast-moving objects in the picture should remain crisp, with precise outlines, thanks to 100-Hertz “True Motion” technology. The LG and the Panasonic differ significantly when it comes to conventional audio and video connections: The LH 7000 provides two Scart sockets, and four HDMI inputs put it one ahead of the Panasonic. But the LG has neither a side connections panel for camcorders nor a headphone output, although it can transmit sound wirelessly to a Bluetooth headset.
For multimedia fans, this is the more versatile TV. While the LH 7000 cannot access a PC network or the Internet, it can play back videos from a USB storage device in various formats: DivX from version 3.11 to 6 (also in HD), XviD, movies in MPEG-1/-2/-4 and H.264/AVC. The LG also accepts music in MP3 format and JPEG photos.
Philips 42 PFL 7404 H
In continental Europe, this brand-new Philips is priced slightly lower than the Panasonic. The 42 PFL 7404 H brings 100-Hertz technology and a fourth HDMI socket. Thanks to CI Plus technology, the 42 PFL 7404 H’s digital cable tuner should be able to receive future channels using the new encryption standard. Analog cable TV and DVB-T are also welcome here, the latter also in HD resolution. This Dutch LCD does not, however, have a satellite tuner, which you do get on the Panasonic.
The TV tries to improve the impression of sharpness using Pixel Precise HD, and the HD Natural Motion system is Philips’ attempt to make motion more fluid and to give sharp edges on moving objects. The Philips TV also lacks a network connection, but can play back music files (MP3- or LPCM-format), photos (JPEG), and video clips (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC) from a USB stick.
Samsung LE 40 B 650
This LCD TV from Korean giant Samsung sells for around 100 GBP less than the Panasonic online, and offers 2 inches less screen diagonal. Still, it has something to offer in other areas: Its multimedia and network capabilities comprehensively outgun the TX-P 42 G 10.
The TV can play back pictures and audio stored on a PC within the home network. To allow this, you must have a PC running DLNA server software. Samsung supplies a suitable program (PC Share Manager 2.0) for Windows PCs with the TV as standard. Alternatives include the latest version of the free Windows software Windows Media Player or programs such as “TwonkyMedia Server” (about 18 GBP), for example, which offers more convenience and more flexibility in terms of operating system.
The Samsung LE 40 B 650 supports the following file container formats: .avi, .mkv, and .asf. These container formats, in turn, support various codecs: DivX 3.11, 4.x, 5.1, and 6.0, XviD, H.264 (BP/MP/SP), MPEG-4 ASP, and Motion JPEG, although 650 series only supports DivX up to a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. It’ll also play back Windows Media Video (.wmv), .mp4, .3gp, .vro, and .mpg files. Last, but not least, the TVs can handle MPEG program and transport streams (.ps/.ts) with MPEG-2, H.264, or VC1 encoding.
For audio formats, this Samsung accepts AAC, HE-AAC, AC3 (Dolby Digital), Dolby Digital Plus, LPCM, MP3, and ADPCM (μ-law, A-law). JPEG photos with up to 15,360 x 8,640 pixels should also display correctly.
The 650-series TVs can also access certain types of Internet content. These offerings appear on a portal, either from Samsung itself or from Yahoo, and currently include the video-sharing website YouTube and photo service Flickr.
This Samsung not only plays back multimedia via a network: It also accepts videos, music, and photos via storage media connected to one of its two USB sockets – according to the manufacturer, it’ll even access hard disks.
On the other hand, the Panasonic’s tuner is slightly ahead: This Samsung offers a tuner for digital terrestrial signals (DVB-T), as well as digital cable (DVB-C). Like the Panasonic, however, the Samsung’s cable tuner does not support CI Plus, so you may require a set-top box to view some commercial channels. The lack of a satellite tuner, however, means the Samsung falls behind the Panasonic.
The LE 40 B 650 runs its display panel at 100 Hertz, and the Motion Plus system aims to reduce blurring on moving objects. Four HDMI sockets form a decent squad of high-definition connectivity, and are joined by two Scart sockets for analog SDTV signals. This Samsung model also offers a headphone socket, but it’s tucked away on the back of the set.
Sharp LC-42 DH 77 E
This Sharp and the Panasonic are similarly modern, but Sharp still – in the year 2009 – only offers tuners for analog cable and DVB-T. Televisions.com has already had a chance to test the LC-42 DH 77 E.
Pictures from the DVB-T tuner are impressive, but the analog tuner’s pictures lack some detail and show more noise than on other TVs. On the other hand, the TV’s sharpness is perfect via Scart. One remarkable feature: For an LCD, it displays a very rich black.
Movies in the original 24p frame rate display accurately, but the 100-Hz technology has little effect in pictures recorded for TV, such as sports broadcasts. In test patterns containing large white areas, we noticed a slight, patchy, lilac tint, but this isn’t obvious in normal use.
The handy remote control’s buttons are clearly arranged, but a little too small. Various buttons crowd important controls, such as those for volume and channel changing. The tiny menu text is almost impossible to read from usual viewing distances.
Just like the Panasonic, the Sharp has two Scart sockets and three HDMI inputs, along with a headphone socket and a full camcorder-connections panel. But, while the Panasonic has a separate set of connections for YUV signals (cinch) and PC video signals (VGA), the Sharp combines these two inputs into a single VGA socket – this means you can’t use both at once, and you’ll have to switch the cables over every time you want to change from one to the other.
Sony KDL-40 V 5500
This LCD TV from Sony has been available since March 2009. Televisions.com has already carried out extensive testing on the TV’s big brother, the Sony KDL-52 V 5500: Despite only using 50-Hz technology, the TV’s picture remains crisp during fast motion, so you’ll have no problem following the game. Dark scenes are not as black on the KDL-52 V 5500 as on the Panasonic, but night scenes are impressive for a conventional LCD device. Those using the TV in bright conditions will have little cause to grumble.
The tuners in this Sony and its Panasonic rival each have strengths and weaknesses. Both accept analog cable TV and DVB-T, the latter also in HD where broadcasts exist. Thanks to CI Plus technology, the Sony’s tuner is ready for future digital cable broadcasts – the Panasonic’s is not. On the other hand, the Panasonic’s satellite-TV receiver nudges it a step ahead of the Sony – satellite viewers opting for the KDL-40 V 5500 would still need an external receiver.
The Sony claws its way back up the rankings, however, with multimedia and network capabilities: If you connect the TV up to a router with an Internet connection, the “AppliCast” function can access various Internet news tickers (“RSS Feeds”), which then display in small windows on the TV’s screen. This doesn’t have to be just text; if the feeds contain images, the TV displays these too. Speaking of images: The Sony plays back photos, music, and videos from a USB stick or over a PC network.
The Sony lends itself especially to IT-savvy users that plan to use their TV in a bright environment. The Panasonic, on the other hand, should be the first choice for home-theater fans – not least because it offers a 2-inch larger screen diagonal.
Toshiba 42 ZV 635
Offering the same, 42-inch, screen diagonal as the Panasonic, this Toshiba retails at a similar price point online. Otherwise, however, the 42 ZV 6356 differs significantly from its Japanese rival.
The LCD TV’s “ActiveVision M 200 HD” 200-Hz technology will, Toshiba says, help to render sharp edges on moving objects. The “Resolution +” detail enhancer is supposed to increase the impression of sharpness in traditional PAL TV signals.
The tuner accepts analog TV, DVB-T, and digital cable TV. The 42 ZV 635 does not support CI Plus, so it’ll need a separate receiver in order to display cable channels using this type of encryption. The TV also lacks the DVB-S tuner found in the Panasonic.
On the other hand, the Toshiba’s audio setup is well ahead of the Panasonic’s: With the new “Dolby Volume” technology, the TV will attempt to eliminate irritating volume changes between movies and ad breaks, as well as the volume differences between individual TV channels. The Audyssey equalizer, revered by home-theater fans, is supposed to bestow top sound on the 42 ZV 635.
The connections panel on this Toshiba TV lacks none of the important features: It has two Scart sockets (one RGB capable, the other S-Video), four HDMI inputs, a headphone output, and a side-mounted connections panel with composite (cinch) and S-Video (Mini-DIN) camcorder inputs.
In terms of multimedia, this model is ahead of the Panasonic again: The Toshiba not only has an SD-card slot, but can also play back JPEG photos, MP3 music, and DivX videos from a USB stick.
About our product previews
Experienced experts produce these product preview pages using manufacturers’ specifications, along with test data we’ve produced for other models and subjective assessments of the product’s market chances.
We comprehensively research the information we use, but data of this kind quickly becomes out of date as a result of day-to-day variations in the market and the appearance of new products.
The information in our own tests is more reliable, especially statements relating to quality or comparisons with other TVs. Since we cannot test every single device, however, and because we’re interested in your opinion, we’re grateful to receive any user ratings or user opinions for this TV – especially if you own the model yourself, but also if this preview provided enough information for you to form your own judgment.
Dimensions & Weight Details
- Dimensions & Weight Details : Panel with stand – 102.87 cm x 33.27 cm x 70.35 cm x 28 kg
- Input Video Formats : 576i/p, 720p, 1080i/p, 480i/p
- HDMI : 3
- Composite video : 1
- S-Video : 1
- VGA : 1
- Dynamic Contrast Ratio : 2000000:1
- Image Contrast Ratio : 40000:1
- Resolution : 1920×1080
- Image Aspect Ratio : 16:9
- Diagonal Size : 42″ – widescreen
- Power Consumption Operational : 350 Watt
- Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep : 0.4 Watt
- Height : 70.35 cm
- Depth : 33.27 cm
- Width : 102.87 cm
- Weight : 28 kg
Digital TV Tuner
- Digital TV Tuner : DVB-T