And still we’re not done with the P42G20B’s improvements over last year’s G10s. For rather importantly Panasonic has finally managed to get the Imaging Science Foundation on board, by providing enough set-up flexibility to allow an ISF pro to come round and calibrate the TV to best suit your room environment.
Among the key new tools that probably persuaded the ISF to work with Panasonic is a colour management system whereby you can adjust the gain and cut-off settings for each of the red, green and blue colour components. Plus there’s a series of gamma presets, including most notably the key 2.2 setting, and an S-Curve setting which, while not as accurate as the 2.2 mode, can bring out more mid-level detail in a picture if that tickles your fancy.
Other features of note in the P42G20B’s slightly dated-looking but effective onscreen menus include a Resolution Enhancer option, a Vivid Colour option, Panasonic's Intelligent Frame Creation engine for interpolating extra frames of video to reduce judder, and noise reduction options.
Some of the fine-tuning options listed above really are long overdue on Panasonic plasmas; LG, for instance, has offered such tools for at least a couple of plasma generations now. But the key point is that they’re here now, and really can help make the P42G20B’s very good out-of-the-box picture into a truly excellent one.
The P42G20B’s biggest improvements over the performance of last year’s G10 models - and arguably Panasonic’s excellent V10 models as well - come in two of my favourite picture areas: black level response and colour tone.
When it comes to black levels, they’re pretty much impeccable in terms of both their freedom from the grey clouding so common with flat TVs, and their naturalism. By which I mean that dark parts of the picture are stuffed with subtleties of shade and shadow details to an extent I don’t think I’ve seen before at this market level. There’s none of the usual hollowness and lack of depth usually seen when affordable flat TVs try to produce a good black colour.
A further knock-on benefit of this is that dark scenes thus look completely consistent in terms of depth and 'style' with bright scenes, which I would argue actually makes you able to engage much more seamlessly with a typical film.
Also a joy to behold is the consistency of the P42G20B’s black level across its whole screen. There’s absolutely no trace at all of the backlight inconsistencies that plague - to my increasing irritation - almost all current LCD and LED-lit TVs to some extent. Arguably even better still, unlike practically every LCD TV, you can watch this set from almost right angles before there’s any significant deterioration in the picture’s contrast or colour saturation. This makes the set a no-brainer for anyone whose room requires some family members to have to watch TV from the side.