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After a good 10 minutes updating the P42V10 (yes, people, having a TV capable of jacking into the Internet means you can now get to look forward to the 'joy' of regular firmware updates), I checked out the latest state of play for Panasonic's Viera Cast system. And was reasonably happy with what I found.
The navigational interface remains attractive and straightforward, and the content level is solid, with Eurosport, YouTube, Picasa, and financial and weather reports all available. This is still short of what Samsung and Philips are offering with their online TVs, but it's a decent start for this still relatively burgeoning feature.
The last two 'big' features to report - in that they distinguish the P42V10 from models lower down the range - are Panasonic's Digital Cinema Colour processing, and THX certification.
The former feature enables the P42V10 to reproduce the colour space established by Hollywood for use in digital cinema projection theatres, rather than the normal HDTV colour specifications. And THX certification means that as well as the TV having done enough with its performance to satisfy the THX analysts, the P42V10 carries a THX preset where the image settings have been set in-line with what THX believes to be the optimal levels for movie viewing. It's interesting to note that with the THX mode engaged, the options for turning Intelligent Frame Creation and Picture Overscan on or off completely disappear from the TV's menus.
Before getting into the P42V10's performance, I should pause for a moment to talk about the set's design. For while it's no jaw-dropping work of art, its 'single sheet' glass-like finish is rather posh, and the contrast between the black bezel and glossy silver desktop mount is appealing. The only catch with the glassy finish is that it shows up greasy finger marks like you wouldn't believe. Just as well Panasonic ships a nice cleaning cloth with the TV!
As I've noted with other recent Panasonic TV reviews, plasma technology is no longer the dominant quality force over LCD that it once was. Some of the best LCD TVs out there for my money now outgun many plasma TVs in at least some picture areas. But even so, the P42V10 still does enough to warrant a best buy recommendation - especially given its relative affordability. The main reasons for this are that it scores strongly in what remain two key plasma advantage areas: motion clarity and black level.
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