Firing up the Blu-ray of Taken, with its dark settings and gritty action set pieces, showed that the TX-P42X10 can handle itself admirably with high quality, high definition source material. There may not be quite the same level of clarity and detail that you'd get with a similarly priced Full HD LCD panel, but I'd take better black level response over pixel for pixel mapping any day.
Standard definition fare via the in-built Freeview tuner was surprisingly good. Of course here the HD Ready nature of this TV is a help rather than a hindrance, since the source image is not being scaled as dramatically as it would be on a 1080p screen. However, I did notice some of those slightly suspect colour tones that John mentioned while enjoying the fruits of Freeview. Skin tones suffer the most, with pretty much any actor or presenter looking like they've fallen asleep on a sun bed.
To be fair, most Freeview channels tend to be pretty ropey at best, and the TX-P42X10 seemed to reign in its colours somewhat when watching standard definition via DVD.
As with pretty much all flat screen TVs, the sound produced by the TX-P42X10 is adequate, but hardly breathtaking. Dialogue is well resolved at least, but just don't expect a cinematic experience from big action scenes. It's unlikely that anyone looking for a plasma bargain like this will be shelling out on a full surround sound system, but a half decent 3.1-channel setup would complement this set nicely.
With a street price of £622, the TX-P42X10 represents stunning value for money. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that this TV's big brother - the 50in Panasonic TX-P50X10 - is available for under £800, this would be the plasma bargain of the moment.
As far as picture quality, design and features go, the TX-P42X10 is not Panasonic's finest hour. However, when it comes to value for money, this set, like the TX-P50X10, beggars belief. It may not be Full HD, and it may not offer the last word in plasma picture quality, but if you're on a budget and want a screen that will do justice to your high definition sources, the TX-42X10 is well worth considering.