With brands like Sony and, more recently, Philips bringing LCD technology on leaps and bounds this year, the pressure is well and truly on for Panasonic if it wants to keep its beloved plasma technology looking current.
It is just as well, then, that the brand’s latest NeoPlasma panel designs really have taken its plasma quality to new heights, as evidenced by the likes of the Panasonic TX-P65ST50B and Panasonic TX-P42GT50 models we’ve already tested. So it’s fair to say that we’re feeling more than a little enthused by the arrival in our test room of the Panasonic TX-P42ST50. Especially as this £799 42-inch model marks the very cheapest point at which you can get your sweaty mitts on this all-conquering new NeoPlasma incarnation.
Panasonic TX-P42ST50 Design
Aside from its eye-catching price, the Panasonic TX-P42ST50 doesn’t necessarily make the best first impression. Its bezel is quite wide by today’s TV standards, and while we like the glossy grey finish of the main bezel, we’re not sure that the application of an outer transparent trim doesn’t look a bit forced and over-fussy, especially on a screen as relatively small as this 42-inch one.
Personally, though, we’re not necessarily too bothered by a TV’s looks provided it turns in a strong performance, so let’s move swiftly on.
Panasonic TX-P42ST50 Specs
The Panasonic TX-P42ST50 is adequately well connected, with highlights of three HDMIs, two USBs, an SD card slot, and integrated Wi-Fi capable of connecting your TV to either a DLNA PC or Panasonic’s Viera Connect online service.
Multimedia files supported through the network's USB/SD options comprise of AVCHD 3D/progressive, SD-Video/Motion JPEG, DivX Plus HD, WMV, MKV, AVI, MP4, MOV, MP3, AAC, WMA Pro, FLAC, JPEG, and MPO.
We’ve covered the latest Viera Connect system at length in previous Panasonic reviews, so here we’ll restrict ourselves to saying this: that it’s a pleasantly presented, impressively stable system that’s gradually improving all the time but could still do with more video streaming content to join the current Netflix, BBC iPlayer, AceTrax, Twitter, and Eurosport highlights. If you want more detail on Viera Connect, then we refer you to our review of the Panasonic TX-L42ET5.
Another stand-out feature on the Panasonic TX-P42ST50’s feature list is its 3D playback. This is, as with all plasma TVs, of the active type, though unfortunately Panasonic doesn’t supply any 3D glasses for free. So if 3D interests you, you’ll have to factor in the cost of as many 3D glasses as you need.
Other features of the Panasonic TX-P42ST50 include a new ‘2000Hz’ focussed sub-field drive system for tackling the judder that often plagues plasma technology; a full HD pixel count (actually very hard to achieve on a 42-inch plasma TV); Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation system for interpolating extra image frames to further boost motion clarity/smoothness; and white balance and gamma adjustments.