The P42S30 delivers a couple more significant advantages over LCD too. First, you can watch its screen from a really very wide angle without suffering the sort of contrast and colour problems associated with non-plasma TVs, and second there’s no motion blurring whatsoever.
There is a little judder when watching 50Hz material, but you can more or less eradicate this with judicious use of the Intelligent Frame Creation system. Just make sure you don’t set this system too high, though, or else the image can start to look unnatural.
We were also impressed with the P42S30’s colour handling. Provided you avoid the set’s weird Normal picture preset (which leaves pictures looking really very muted), while you don’t get the sort of gaudy vibrancy you might see with an LCD TV, you do get natural, believable, and subtly rendered tones that only suffer from minimal amounts of colour striping. This makes the screen a particularly good friend of Blu-rays if you’re a film fan.
The P42S30 manages to carry a full HD resolution (something that isn’t actually a given in the 42in plasma world), which it puts to good use in reproducing high definition pictures with impressive levels of sharpness and clarity.
Standard definition pictures by comparison can look slightly soft. But this has the effect of hiding source noise, and anyway, if you really want your standard def images to look sharp regardless of how much noise comes with that, you can always ramp up the ‘power’ of Panasonic’s Resolution Enhancer feature.
With some acceptable if hardly outstanding audio keeping the P42S30’s enjoyable pictures company (although the soundstage does get a little brittle during loud action scenes), only one thing ultimately stops us from giving the P42S30 a 9 or 10 score. And that issue is that the P42S30’s pictures really aren’t very bright. So they could well look a bit too dark for comfort if you’re looking for a TV to place in a very light environment.
A provided Dynamic image preset improves things a bit in this respect, but at the expense of natural, balanced colours. So it should only be used on rare occasions, if at all.
While the P42S30 isn’t as stand-out brilliant as so many other TVs in Panasonic’s 2011 range, if you can run it in a reasonably low-light environment it’s still better than you’ve a right to expect for its money.