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Panasonic Viera TX-P42GT20 - More Features and 3D Impressions

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


If you’re into your multimedia, the P42GT20 has a decent suite of tools at its disposal. The USB ports don’t just record, for instance; they can also play JPEG photo files, MP3 music files, and video files.

The set carries an Ethernet port too, as required by the Freeview HD and Freesat HD platforms – both of which are promising to finally deliver some interactive services that actually use the port in the very near future. But in the meantime you can use the Ethernet to access multimedia files on a DLNA-ready PC, or jack into Panasonic’s Viera Cast 'walled garden' of online services.

These services are decent, with highlights of the AceTrax film rental/purchase platform, YouTube, Eurosport, Twitter and Skype. However, the rather pointless presence of a bunch of foreign language ‘channels’ emphasises the fact that Viera Cast doesn’t have the BBC iPlayer, Demand 5 or much other really interesting free streaming video content.

The last key feature of the P42GT20 is its endorsement by both THX (a THX preset is provided) and the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), with the latter being achieved thanks to the set’s provision of a decent set of colour and gamma management controls. We still feel there’s room for improvement in this increasingly important area, though.

In assessing the P42GT20, we immediately noticed the missing black level filter we mentioned earlier. Dark scenes look noticeably more grey than they do with the V Series models. That said, put in the context of the sub-£1,500 40-42in market generally, the black level response is actually impressive – as we would naturally expect of a Panasonic plasma TV.

We should also qualify our reduced black level point by saying that we noticed the issue less during 3D viewing than we did with 2D, thanks presumably to the pronounced brightness reduction you get with Panasonic’s plasma TVs in 3D mode.

Having mentioned 3D, we might as well look next at this aspect of the P42GT20’s performance. And having donned one of the two pairs of active shutter glasses currently being given away free with the P42GT20, it’s a huge relief to find it performing every bit as well as Panasonic’s higher-grade 3D TVs when it comes to crosstalk noise. Compared with any rival 3D technology we’ve seen, evidence of the dreaded double-ghosting phenomenon is extremely minimal - and even when it does crop up, it’s seldom strident enough to be truly distracting.

Not so marvellous is the reduction in brightness you have to put up with in 3D mode, and the resulting loss of shadow and deep colour detail during dark 3D scenes. 3D images also look a bit softer than they do on some LCD TVs. But as we’ve said before, we find Panasonic’s 3D brightness and sharpness reduction ultimately far less aggravating than the painfully distracting crosstalk which plagues all 3D LCD screens we’ve seen so far.

Another issue worth mentioning here is that having seen a number of very large 3D screens now, the relatively small screen of the P42GT20 does reduce the immersive impact of 3D. But we guess we’ve just been spoiled in this respect.

Although we remain philosophically opposed to 2D to 3D conversion, we should comment on it with the P42GT20, given that it’s Panasonic’s first stab at the technology. The first thing that strikes us is that Panasonic’s converted images are more limited in terms of depth than those of Samsung’s 3D TVs. But it’s also slightly less prone to depth errors.


October 28, 2010, 2:12 pm

For those interested, another review site that goes to the effort of measuring input lag reported it to be 30ms in "Game" and "Professional" modes (this reduced to 16ms in 2D to 3D conversion mode).

30ms is on the high side for a plasma, but it would still enable a fairly responsive gaming experience, except maybe for the hardcore online gamers out there.


October 28, 2010, 4:15 pm

Did you pick up on any issues when watching 50Hz material?

There are supposedly some fairly distracting artifacts when watching 50Hz SD and HD material. For example, this can take the form of red, green and blue trailing lines eminating from the centre line in football broadcasts.

I've heard that Panasonic have issued a statement saying that their 2010 TVs have been optimised for Blu-ray and 3D, but not 50Hz. That's pretty astounding when you think about it, considering TV broadcasts in the UK are 50Hz.


October 28, 2010, 9:27 pm

£1,200 for a drab 42" Plasma!! You gotta be joking Panasonic - this will need to come down a few hundred pounds before the "normal buyers" it is aimed at will entertain it methinks.

Steve 38

October 29, 2010, 12:29 pm

I heard an MP3 presentation that as you are watching 2 pictures on a 3D screen that the 1080P becomes 540P for each picture..

Given that, does this mean in a couple of years we'll be offered 2160P HDTVs as the next must have????

tony cole

October 29, 2010, 7:52 pm

Just to pick up on a couple of points in your review and a comment posted having had a G20 50" since April I can only say the picture quality has got better and better over the months now I wince when I see the super bright super saturated colours on other tv's.

several friends who own the latest Sony and LG sets comment on the picture quality they can't initially put their finger on the reason why and I only tell them at the end of their visit to check how black is the black on their own sets.

as for USB recording i have use tried three different drives of different makes (iomega,toshiba Le cie) and they all worked fine. As for £1,200 for a drab 42" Plasma!! in my eyes no pun intended it's picture quality first in my book there are plenty of sets out their that put style over substance but to me a tv's no. 1 priority is to give the best picture possible and anyhow for serious viewing it's lights out for me.

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