Panasonic Viera TX-P42G10B review
Panasonic's 42in Viera TX-P42G10B is great value for a full HD plasma TV. There are plenty of cheaper plasma TVs out there, but they usually have just a 1,024x768 resolution. Compared with most LCD-based HD TVs, plasma screens have much better contrast, which means blacks are truly black and not just dark grey.
The Viera's design is a little plain, but it's what you see when you switch it on that counts, and here it doesn't disappoint. For a start, it has a built-in Freesat tuner, which means you can enjoy free HD programming from the BBC and ITV. There isn't a huge amount of content, but it includes the best of the BBC's programming.
Whether you're watching Freesat, Freeview or a Blu-ray movie, image quality is excellent. Contrast is stunning - we saw deep blacks and bright whites when viewing our test video. Thanks to the 600Hz refresh rate and Intelligent Frame Creation, which generates intermediate frames between those in the source video, motion is also smooth.
Colours are natural, with flesh tones, grass, trees, flowers and skies looking immensely realistic. Viewing angles are extremely wide, with no loss of colour saturation even at 170°. There's a choice of normal, vivid and game modes, but you can also tweak the individual quality settings to your liking. We noticed no input lag in game mode, so the TX-P42G10B is a fine choice for plugging in a games console.
There's a wide brightness range, so the image is easy to see in the brightest conditions, but you can also lower it at night, reducing power consumption by around half at the minimum setting.
If there's one criticism, it's that the Viera doesn't upscale Freeview broadcasts very well. This is due to a lack of aggressive processing, which makes HD video look great, but standard definition material (such as the BBC News ticker) looks soft.
Most people will be happy with three HDMI ports, although most HD TVs now have four. It's handy that one of these is on the side of the TV along with an SD card slot. Plug in a memory card and you can view a slideshow, listen to MP3s or watch AVCHD videos. We also like the EPG, which shows seven channels at once and makes navigating between days easy.
There's an Ethernet port, but this TV doesn't support Panasonic's Viera Cast web portal. Instead, it's for Freesat services, which will soon include the BBC's iPlayer.
The TX-P42G10B is a superb choice. With excellent image quality, great sound and built-in Freesat and Freeview tuners, plus the promise of the BBC iPlayer, it wins a Best Buy award.
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