Panasonic Viera TX-P42V20B review
42in, Freesat HD, Freeview HD, analogue, 1,920x1,080 resolution, 3D: no, 4x HDMI
We’ve been dead impressed with Pansonic's latest plasma TVs, such as the brilliant Viera TX-P46G20B, part of the G20 series. We were very excited, then, to get our hands on the new top-of-the-range model, the 42in Viera TX-P42V20B from the company's V20 series.
There are several differences in the V20 series over the G20 series. For starters, the V20 series looks nicer and we're fans of the brushed metal-style bezel and sleek sculptured look. Then, there's RS232C support, which lets you use your TV as part of a home-automation setup, such as for automatically shutting blinds in a room. Admittedly, this is a niche use, but perhaps important for some people.
It's the screen that most people will be interested in, and the TX-P42V20B doesn't disappoint. It uses the same new range of panels as the B series: that's a super-fast 600Hz, NeoPDP panel. Although the V series has the same 5,000,000:1 native contrast ratio as the G series, it has the Infinite Black Pro filter, rather than the Infinite Black filter.
It should make blacks even darker, and there's some evidence of that. White text on a black background looked fantastic, with a deep and even black. The crucial thing is that the high contrast ratio means that there's plenty of detail in dark areas. Looking at a video of a woman in a black dress, for example, we could see every fold and crease in detail.
Movies in general were sumptuous to look at. We set the TV to THX mode, which turns off a lot of the processing and switches to a colour palette that's more in-line with that used by film makers. In our opinion this gives you the best starting place for image quality.
Picture quality is infinitely configurable, all the way from adjusting the red, green and blue of the image all the way up to adjusting the gamma, so you can easily get the picture you want. It's a little irritating that to access these options you have to turn on the advanced menus, rather than them being displayed by default. Fortunately, the quality remote control is well laid out and comfortable to use, making navigating the menus easy.
Watching the start of Casino Royale we were incredibly impressed with the black and white scene. The fantastic contrast ratio meant that every detail could be seen from the blackest to the whitest parts of the image.
Colour scenes are equally as impressive. The Parkour Scene in Casino Royale starts off in a dusty environment with a snake fight. In particular, the cloud of dust in front of Bond looked hazy and real, rather than a dark blob that some TVs turn it into. The range of colours is fantastic, with the TX-P42V20B producing vivid and realistic images with a lot of depth to them.
We were deeply impressed with our test footage of a night-time fly through of Tokyo. All of the detail was there to be seen, with the lit-up windows and neon signs permeating through the dark background of the night sky.
There are two video smoothing modes: 24p smooth frame for 24fps inputs and intelligent frame creation for all other types of footage. Whether you like these kinds of modes or not will depend on personal preference, but both do a surprisingly good job. They make movement on screen look naturally smoother, but not cartoony like the over-blown methods used by other TV manufacturers. Movement in general is brilliant thanks to the combination of the lightening-fast response times and the 600Hz panel.