Another issue somewhat connected to the first one is that colours look a touch short of dynamic range, and also don’t enjoy the extreme levels of tonal subtlety you get with Panasonic’s more powerful TVs. This can lead to reds looking rather orangey at times, too.
Finally, during fast horizontal camera pans you can sometimes see a little fizzing noise - though actually we’d say this isn’t as obvious as it is on the NeoPlasma models.
Black level strength
Shifting to watching films in a dark room, the P42X50 really comes into its own. The set’s black level strength versus most budget TVs really leaps to the fore, while the picture’s lack of brightness appears far less obvious.
Blu-ray feeds look detailed and crisp too, despite the screen not being full HD, and perhaps best of all the amount of shadow detail on show during dark scenes makes them look far more convincing and evenly balanced with bright scenes than you usually see with budget flat TVs.
With colours looking extremely natural in tone too for the most part, and motion looking miles better than it does on similarly priced rivals, it’s no stretch at all to declare the P42X50 far and away the best sub-£400 TV we’ve seen when it comes to our favourite pastime of watching films in cinematically darkened rooms.
Really the only complaint we could raise for the P42X50’s money is the occasional appearance of a little shimmering noise over some very narrow picture elements, such as the struts in a chair back, or the stripes in a shirt.
The P42X50 is hardly slim by modern TV standards, so we’d hoped it might use its bulk to produce a superior sound performance. However, while the speakers flatter to deceive by proving able to churn out quite a bit of raw volume and sounding decent enough with relatively quiet fare, during action scenes it becomes apparent that the volume comes along with some noticeable distortion when the going gets even remotely tough. In other words, you’re advised to try and partner the set with an external speaker system if you can, in order to do the movie-friendly pictures justice.
One final aspect of the P42X50’s performance to mention is its input lag. This was oddly inconsistent during our tests, shifting during multiple tests between an outstandingly low 7ms through the most common 34ms all the way up to an occasional disappointing 70ms. But the average figure of 32ms should keep gamers happy overall.
While people looking for a casual TV to go into a usually bright living room environment might not feel entirely satisfied by the P42X50 due to its lack of brightness, it’s a film-lover’s dream, delivering those all-important movie elements of contrast and motion with a quality that you just cannot find anywhere else for anything like as little money.