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Panasonic Viera TX-P42G20 42in Plasma TV - Panasonic Viera TX-P42G20B

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Viera TX-P42G20 front angle


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The P42G20B’s multimedia features are boosted by its carriage of both SD card and USB slots that can play a wide variety of file types, including MP3/AAC audio, AVCHD, DivX, JPEGs, and MPEG2 video. Plus, as noted earlier, the P42G20B allows you to record footage from the digital tuners to USB HDD hard drives. What’s more, since it records the direct digital video stream, these recordings are essentially identical in quality - with HD or standard def - to the original broadcasts. You can set the TV to buffer video to the USB HDD automatically, too, giving you a handy instant rewind feature.

Which is all great, of course. The problem is that I really struggled to find a USB HDD that would work with the TV. USB sticks aren’t acceptable (your drive needs a capacity of between 160GB and 2TB). And as for USB HDD drives, none of the three I own - an ageing Buffalo drive, a Toshiba Stor.E drive, and a Seagate - worked. So I checked the USB HDD compatibility 'list’ on Panasonic’s website, and found just one certified solution: the Buffalo JustStore Desktop HD-EU2-UK series. So I had to buy one of these, just so I could put the P42G20B’s recording features through their paces! Grr.

Panasonic Viera TX-P42G20  front

I guess it’s possible that other drives may work with the P42G20B too, but nobody seems to know for sure. Frustrating. Especially given the relative openness of the USB recording system carried by Samsung’s recently tested UE55C8000.

One further, though much more predictable limitation of the P42G20B’s USB HDD recording capability is that the USB drive is tied to the TV, so you can’t take it out and play your recorded content on any other TV or video-capable device.

Interesting though all the P42G20B’s multimedia and recording talents are, for me the TV’s single most important feature is its latest NeoPDP technology. This really does appear to be a wholesale improvement on the previous NeoPDP design, complete with a new filter (something to do with Panasonic’s deal with Pioneer, perhaps?!), better phosphors, a more efficient discharge gas, and even a new cell structure. Let’s hope this proves to be as effective in practice as it sounds on paper.

Panasonic has also tweaked its V-Real Pro video processing engine for the G20 series, bringing it up to generation five. Plus the set boasts Panasonic’s slightly infamous 600Hz system, which rather than actually refreshing the screen 600 times a second as you might expect, instead inserts 12 extra sub-fields for each frame of the actual source image. For a fuller explanation of this, check out the recent review of the Panasonic Viera TX-P50S20B.

Using the latest NeoPDP system has allowed Panasonic to quote a contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1 for the P42G20B versus ‘just’ 2,000,000:1 for last year’s P42G10, while yet another key improvement finds the P42G20B coming with THX endorsement, including a THX-certified picture preset. THX support only appeared higher up Panasonic’s range last year.


April 28, 2010, 2:07 pm

Been looking for a new TV and have had my eye on this one for a while now. It certainly seems to preform a lot better than any other 42" TV be it LCD or Plasma. The only thing that has stopped me purchasing it is wondering if it is worth the £200 extra from the G10 but I think you have convinced me with your review.

Niraj Goyal

April 28, 2010, 3:40 pm

Any ideas on how I can convince my better half that we REALLY need this and our 37" old Panny plasma is just not good enough? Apparently HD World Cup arguments are not enough!


April 28, 2010, 4:24 pm

Just got one of these this week and I am really pleased with it.

Using it to pick up HD through Freeview and the three available channels look stunning. Other Freeview channels are variable in quality, Film4 is very good, but some of the others are blurry.

I use an Hitachi USB HDD to record/pause/rewind TV and this works very well.

Watching iPlayer through a PS3 is great quality as is streaming video from a PC, PS3 games look brilliant too.

I don't have a problem with the 'bland' styling; I don't really want to notice the TV when it is off, so subtle lines are OK by me.


April 28, 2010, 5:06 pm

The BBC iPlayer is already established in Beta form and, especially in high quality mode, offers an excellent display on a TX-P42G20. Very handy if you miss a programme although, of course, they can also be viewed via a PC.


April 28, 2010, 5:15 pm

It would be really nice if interesting reviews like this one had at least a detailed picture of the set in question (like a close up) and a picture of the back, so we can see the connections. But not even a picture of the remote control? It hardly helps to make a choice to see stock photographs that all look the same.


April 28, 2010, 5:17 pm

Do you think there would be any point upgrading from my Panasonic 42" PX80 720P plasma? My viewing diet is largely Blu-Rays and PS3 gaming with the odd bit of Freeview TV.

The PX80 cost me £800 at the time. I imagine I'd only get at most £300 considering the price of some new 42" sets now.

tony cole

April 28, 2010, 5:21 pm

I recently purchased the 50" model and initially I was a bit disappointed with the picture especially in SD Some older tv programs which my wife insists on watching looked like you were viewing the program through a net curtain, very soft picture but then we watched DR. Who on freeview HD and we were blown away by the picture, colour, depth moving onto blu ray (the Dark Knight) once again we were blown away by the stunning quality of the picture. The picture has seemed to improved over the few weeks we have had the set and my neighbour who has a recently purchased sony is as jealous as hell when we have our weekly Blu ray night (one week at theirs one week out ours)over the quality of the picture especially the depth of the blacks which on his sony look like a grey mist all in all very happy with the set and will be buying an external HD for recording and hooking up to freesat which is suppose to offer an even better HD picture than Freeview HD ? Yes it may not be the most cutting edge design or look to give the super saturated pictures of the latest Samsung LED but it is a more natural and realistic picture you will grow to love .... I have


April 28, 2010, 5:45 pm

I believe there is a "V20" model that will sit above this, with a "VT20" being the 3D-enabled version. What benefits does the "V20" bring? (I'm not fussed about 3D) as otherwise I'll be buying this G20 model?...


April 28, 2010, 5:57 pm

@gadgetmania - I agree somewhat. TR do seem to primarily use stock photos and while these always look fantastic and it probably saves them a lot of work (taking photos and processing) and a lot of money on pro photography gear and lighting, sometimes they don't show some of the specific details they mention in the review.


April 28, 2010, 8:38 pm

Niraj - far better to ask for forgiveness than permission...

Martin 6

April 28, 2010, 8:42 pm

Bah I bought a TX-P46G10 from Dixons on Boxing day for £749 now I want one of these!!!!

Been really happy with the TV except the odd bout of colour striping which John says is missing for the G20 range Still it was cheaper and has extra 4 inches :)


April 28, 2010, 8:52 pm

Pani's doing a great job making Plasmas a serious alternative to LCD tvs.

I think the issue of phosphorus burn was over egged given that it wasn't a problem on old CRT tvs in my experience.

A TX-P50G20B on SALE price of £7-900 would be perfick!

Well done Pani. Keep up the good work.

Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with Pani or any form of the TV industry - I'm just joe public.


April 28, 2010, 11:14 pm

I second Enigma's comment.

Well done to Panasonic for bringing us such a good TV at a sensible price.

I'm a big fan of plasma TV and cannot understand why LCDs have taken over - they are absolutely rubbish for picture quality compared to a decent plasma.

Please - let's not start a plasma vs LCD debate. I'm simply stating my opinion. Nothing is going to change that (yet!).


April 29, 2010, 12:06 am

I’m ready to purchase 2 TVs to replace our Sony CRTs. If I wanted TVs that were easy to set up and use and (only if necessary) was happy to spend up 4k on the two, would you choose the Panasonic Viera TX-P42G20B Plasma reviewed here, or the 40” Philips 9000 LED Pro series LCD TV which has also had excellent reviews. The Philips although more expensive does appear to have the better sound so would not need any further investment in this department. The home cinema/surround sound experience is not a requirement.

I echo Prem’s comment re the plasma vs LCD debate. Thanks.


April 29, 2010, 12:09 am


Got the same deal and love my G10. Was a total bargain!


We've got 2 LCDs in the house and the image quality doesn't compare. The colours, black level, screen response are all miles better on the Panny.


April 29, 2010, 3:18 am

Glad to hear there are so many plasma lovers out there.

I am always glad when my kids manage to wreck some gadget around the house - it's a chance to buy something else.

However, since Pioneer stopped making the Kuros, the kids are on strict intructions to treat my 50" and 60" Kuros with care or else they'll be banned from watching TV!!

The reason for this is there is no other TV I would consider buying.

Now, it seems that Panny is making some effort. I would not choose Panny over my Pioneers, but they come a close second.

Again, well done Panasonic.


April 29, 2010, 4:46 am

@Keith please see comments here:


Why give money away? If you must I am happy to accept it UNCONDITIONALLY!!! ;-)

Someone please clarify: didn't Pani buy out the Kuros technology? I thought that's what this NeoPDP it called? Not that changes what I said above.

The Sharp Aquos LC-52XS1E 52in RGB-LED LCD TV - Was on SALE for £2,999 (reduced from £5,999 - when TR reviewed it it was £8,999) -


would INDEED offer real competition.

Philips LED with their top end Pixel-perfect software offers rivalling picture quality but VERY WRONG price point Philips.

Euan Macquisten

April 29, 2010, 5:06 am

Hi John

Do you think that with the highier end Panasonic TV's that are going to come out this year will have that awful Bezel, Frame and Stand of the G20?

Simon Greening

April 29, 2010, 12:59 pm

I am using a Seagate FreeAgent Go 500GB and it works very well; no difference in picture quality from live tv and this drive does not need external power.

Martin 6

April 29, 2010, 2:34 pm

@Kieth Got to say I have not seen the Philips high end TV's but lots of LCD ones just dont compare to my 46inch G10 if the G20 is as good as John Archer says then it is a stormer and a bargain. motion, black levels & colours all look better on plasmas imo.


April 29, 2010, 8:25 pm

Cracking review and once Panasonic decide to bring a modern look to their plasmas they will really clean up ...

I am not sure that this tv has any Pioneer Tech in it - pretty sure it is just reserved for the V Range?? Also worth noting the rising black level on the Panasonic Plasmas again I am sure if it wasn't for the internet nobody would notice this "problem" but it is still present in the 2010 Neo PDP range.

Certainly for anybody waiting for Panasonic rivalling Pioneer this is just a step below them - but look at the price!! That will come in the shape of the V range released later this year though, but may not actually better them until 2011 I am guessing.


April 29, 2010, 11:00 pm

Thanks guys. I'll probably go for the Pani plasmas then, which I'm pleased about because the Philips are hard to find - and I'll save money! When I emailed Philips recently about stockists of the Pro TVs they said something on the lines of: there was unexpected interest for these sets and they could not keep up with demand, and there may even be a waiting list. Can't quite remember exactly what they said though. Thanks again guys.


April 30, 2010, 10:39 pm

While recording one programme, to a usb hard drive, can you then watch another channel at the same time. Or would you need to connect both freeviewHD and FreesatHD to do this. Thanks


May 11, 2010, 2:20 pm

Hi,I'm living in the Republic of Ireland and wondering if the Freeview HD will work here. I believe we use MPEG4 for our Freeview.


May 11, 2010, 9:48 pm

It's too bad I'm one of those who see flickering on brighter areas of a plasma display image. I also find these Panasonic TVs quite ugly – I've seen them in real life and they look bette on picture.

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