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The 42PX60’s black levels, for instance, are simply outstanding. There’s not an LCD in the world that can hold a candle to the sheer, grey-free depths of this Panny’s black response. Yet despite their inky blackness, dark parts of the picture are also loaded with the sort of subtle colour details that help make the best flat TV pictures look layered and three dimensional.
Even better, dark parts of the picture are almost entirely bereft of the annoying grey pixel noise that can afflict lesser plasma panels.
The advantages of the 42PX60’s various new colour processing systems are also plain to see, as the full palettes of our favourite movies, PC games and Xbox 360 titles all explode off the screen. Perhaps the biggest sign of the Panasonic’s colour art, however, lies not so much in its vibrancy but in the subtlety of its tones. People’s faces thus avoid the greenness around the gills common with plasma technology, and objects look more solid, as the screen has the dexterity to eke out even the most minute colour blend shifts.
Wrapping up the 42PX60’s superlative pictures is their clarity. High definition films look pin sharp - but so, tellingly, do almost all standard definition sources. This reveals a flexibility in the 42PX60 with different quality sources that’s rare indeed in the usually HD-loving, standard def-hating flat TV world.
A couple of minor issues pull the 42PX60 up short of perfection. First, although HD movies look great, HD games don’t look quite as eye-cuttingly sharp as they can on a good LCD TV. Second, horizontal motion or, especially, camera pans can judder a little rather than crossing your screen smoothly. But that’s it – and you really shouldn’t let these mere trivialities deflect you from the 42PX60’s pictures general majesty.
While not able to hit the same highs as its pictures, the 42PX60’s audio has nothing to be ashamed of. It’s got the raw power to go loud without succumbing to distortion or harshness, voices always sound believable and clear, and trebles are well rounded.
Panasonic’s new plasma might not look quite as hot as its predecessors, but it has got all the connections and features you’ll need together with pictures that are little short of sensational.