Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A plasma television

Panasonic's top non-3D plasma TV is very affordable and has great picture quality

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Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A
  • Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A
  • Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A
  • Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Comparatively low price, excellent picture quality, useful Internet features

Cons

  • Thick chassis and bezel, non-reflective coating dulls colours slightly

Bottom Line

Panasonic's TH-P42V20A is a medium-size plasma television with excellent picture quality. If you don't need or want the ability to view 3D content, this television is a great way to watch TV and Blu-ray discs without spending too much.

Would you buy this?

The Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A is a 42in plasma television with great picture quality. It offers the same Internet features as the more expensive Panasonic TH-P50VT20A, but lacks 3D support and costs a lot less.

Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A: Design and connectivity

The Panasonic TH-P42V20A has the same basic chassis design as the company's 2009 plasma televisions. It reminds us of the TH-P50G15A and TH-P58V10A — and that's not a bad thing. The TH-P42V20A's bezel is finished in silver and looks quite attractive, but we do wish that the television chassis and bezel were slimmer. The panel of the Panasonic TH-P42V20A features a satin anti-reflective coating. This is useful if you're going to be using the television in an environment where ambient light is a problem.

You'll find all the digital and analog A/V ports you could need on the rear and side of the Panasonic TH-P42V20A. Four HDMI ports will allow multiple Full HD digital video devices like Blu-ray players and high-definition camcorders to be connected simultaneously, and older devices can use one of the several composite or component video connectors. VGA is also offered for connecting PCs or netbooks to the television.

Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A: Picture quality

Like almost all of Panasonic's recent plasma televisions, we found that the TH-P42V20A delivered impressive results at its default settings. A small amount of tweaking to suit our room — a small room with fluorescent lighting and a 2m viewing distance — made the picture even better. We lowered the sharpness and brightness slightly. These two changes gave the picture a smoother and more realistic look while also allowing more detail to be retained in bright areas of the screen. If you don't want to tweak your television's picture settings, we found the Cinema preset to offer the best picture quality. The Panasonic TH-P42V20A has no THX presets, unlike the pricier Panasonic TH-P50VT20A.

When we ran through the opening sequence of The Dark Knight, with bright spots of white light against a black background, the Panasonic TH-P42V20A performed excellently. We didn't notice any bloom or loss of detail in darker parts of the screen — the Panasonic TH-P42V20A's 50,000,000:1 contrast ratio means it can handle extremely high contrast scenes capably.

Colours are good, with no obvious bias to red, green or blue tones. The anti-reflective coat does reduce the Panasonic TH-P42V20A's vibrancy slightly, but this can be mostly rectified by boosting colour saturation levels.

Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A: Internet features and USB playback

The Panasonic TH-P42V20A has the same Viera Cast features as the flagship VT20 series, with built-in access to Twitter and YouTube as well as weather and stock services. Skype video calling can be enabled if an optional $199 webcam is purchased. Later in the year content from the Yahoo!7 Plus7 television library will be available for viewing on demand.

Like most televisions released this year the Panasonic TH-P42V20A supports media playback via its USB ports. A diverse range of formats are supported: MP3 and AAC audio, AVC-HD and DivX HD video and JPEG picture files.

Conclusion

The Panasonic TH-P42V20A offers consistently excellent picture quality. Unlike the more expensive TH-P50VT20A, it can't display 3D movies and doesn't have THX certification. However, if you don't care about these features there's no good reason for you not to pick up this TV.

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Read more on these topics: Panasonic, plasma tvs, Panasonic Viera, home entertainment
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