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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.
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.