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Panasonic Viera TX-P42G10 42in Plasma TV - Panasonic Viera TX-P42G10
I find the P42G10's decision to only provide an SD card slot a little galling too - even though that slot can play AVCHD movies as well as JPEG stills. For while I understand Panasonic's desire to promote its own card storage format, it would have been nice if they could have seen their way to including a USB port as well.
One other multimedia touch the set does carry, though, is an Ethernet port. But here again this proves a little more limited in its scope than we would ideally have liked, since it's just there for accessing future Freesat services (most notably the forthcoming BBC iPlayer service). In other words, it can't be used to pull in multimedia files from a PC, or for accessing Panasonic's new VieraCast online system.
Tucking into the P42G10's pictures, the first thing that strikes me, as with other NeoPDP screens, is how much more flexibility you've got with its picture settings, at least when it comes to the key issue of brightness. For the screen can go much, much brighter than Panny's non-NeoPDP screens, putting it much nearer the sort of brightness ballpark that helps LCD TVs seduce so many people in a shop environment.
While this fact might help people who have to use their TV in a pretty bright environment, though, it's also great for people with dark rooms, since they have the flexibility with the P42G10 to drastically reduce the screen's brightness in return for considerable power savings. In fact, Panasonic estimates that if you set the P42G10 to around the same brightness level as that delivered at best by its non-NeoPDP screens, you'll be using around 50% less running power.
What's even better about the P42G10's NeoPDP brightness potential is the fact that it's delivered without compromising Panasonic's legendary (well, until Pioneer's KURO screens came along, anyway!) black level response. As a result, it's possible to get dark scenes looking more dynamic than they do on non-NeoPDP Panasonic plasmas.
It's also possible to get pictures looking much more fluid than they do on cheaper/older Panasonic plasmas. The P42G10's 600Hz effect, created with the help of the brand's Intelligent Frame Creation technology (which interpolates extra, completely new frames of intermediate image data between a source's ‘real' frames) really helps reduce the judder with horizontal motion that's long been one of our only sources of dissatisfaction with Panasonic's plasma TVs.
There's certainly still room for further improvement: Philips' HD Natural Motion processing and Sony's 200Hz engine both deliver greater fluidity still, for instance. But then the P42G10 does deliver its motion improvements without generating seemingly any obvious processing side effects.
Plus it has another compensatory string to its motion reproduction bow, namely the fact that plasma technology is virtually immune to the sort of response time issues that LCD screens have to put so much processing effort into countering. As a result, motion doesn't significantly smear or lose resolution as it goes about its business.
This fact, together with no obvious signs of image delay provided you use the supplied Game picture preset, helps the P42G10 become a really good screen for gaming when considered against the smearing and lag problems witnessed with many affordable LCD TV rivals.