Regular readers will know that Panasonic has hardly been shy about sending us TVs to review this year. We've seen multiple sizes from nearly every part of the brand's latest plasma and LCD range. The only one that's slipped through the net is the V10 series. So we thought it was high time we put that right…
The V10 range is actually only the second model down in the latest Panasonic hierarchy, sitting below the flagship Z1 range we looked at a couple of months ago. But people rather daunted by the many thousands of pounds demanded by the Z1 models can take heart from the fact that the V10 is nowhere near as expensive. In fact, we've found the 42in P42V10 we're looking at today going for under £1100 - a price that really looks a steal when you start investigating what the set has to offer.
For starters, in keeping with all the top half of Panasonic's plasma range this year, the P42V10 sports a built-in Freesat tuner alongside the more typical Freeview and analogue tuner types. Also potentially hugely significant is the fact that it uses one of Panasonic's NeoPDP plasma panels, which are able to deliver big advances in brightness and colour vibrancy versus Panasonic's 'normal' plasma screens.
In practice, this means that the P42V10 gives you the flexibility to either watch pictures that are unusually dynamic by plasma standards, or else ramp down the brightness in return for substantial running power economies versus standard plasma models.
The P42V10 enjoys a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, meanwhile - a key specification that's still unique to Panasonic in the 42in plasma world. And as with all NeoPDP panels, it claims a contrast ratio of millions to one.
While we're on the subject of big numbers, let's also look at the P42V10's 600Hz processing system. This number is obviously extremely high given that we're only just getting to grips with 200Hz in the LCD TV world. And actually the 600Hz figure isn't really describing a 600Hz cycle rate in the way you'd normally imagine. Rather it's describing a situation where something called Sub-field Drive Intelligent Frame Creation Pro interpolates enough extra frames of freshly calculated image data to create a 600Hz-type effect. The reason for adding these extra frames is, of course, to dramatically reduce the motion judder problem that's so associated with plasma technology - especially Panasonic plasma technology, funnily enough.
As you'd expect of a TV so near the top of Panasonic's range, we're nowhere near done with the feature finery yet. For alongside a healthy four HDMIs and a D-Sub PC port on the P42V10's connections panel are an SD card slot that can play AVCHD and DivX video as well as JPEG sources, and an Ethernet port for hooking up to either a PC or the Internet.
Well, a bit of the Internet, anyway. For as with all 'online TVs' except for those from Philips, Panasonic currently only lets you access its own ring-fenced sites, containing content specially formatted for ease of access via a TV remote rather than a mouse and keyboard.