Having been slightly disappointed by the first LCD member of Panasonic's new S series of tellies, the L37S10, today I turn my attentions to the first plasma S model we've got our hands on, the 42in P42S10. Hopefully it will be able to trade on Panasonic's strong plasma heritage to deliver something more enticing.
Not that it looks particularly enticing. Sure, the finish of the gloss black bezel feels unusually robust, and there's a stab at style from the gentle arced shape of the bottom edge. But ultimately there just isn't enough raw panache on show to help the set stand out on crowded electrical store shelves.
The P42S10 disappoints a touch with its connections, too, as it doesn't sport a USB port, and provides only three HDMIs when I'm starting to look for four these days. Perhaps I'm being a little unfair here, though, given that the P42S10 does after all rest reasonably low down on Panasonic's current TV range 'ladder', and manages to provide an SD card slot able to play both JPEGs and AVCHD video.
Getting more specific about the P42S10's position in Panasonic's latest TV range, it sits between the Freesat-sporting mid-range G10 series, and near entry-level X10 series. Which has the following impact on its specification.
First, I'm happy to find that it's a Full HD model - no mean feat with a 42in plasma TV. In fact, Panasonic remains to date the only manufacturer that's managed to supply us with a 42in plasma screen containing the 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD pixel count.
The screen also boasts a crazily high dynamic contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1, and excellent native contrast ratio of 30,000:1. Intriguingly it claims 400Hz Sub Field Drive processing too - a nudge down from the 600Hz found on the P46G10 we looked at a while ago, but still a figure that promises much when it comes to the screen's handling of motion. The 400Hz facility comes as something of a surprise considering that the L37S10 didn't even have 100Hz.
Not surprisingly given the 400Hz claims, the P42S10 also carries Panasonic's Intelligent Frame Creation system, for interpolating new frames of image data designed to make motion across the screen look less juddery and, therefore, sharper.
The main 'bad' news - if you can call it that - about the P42S10 is that in stepping down from the G10 you lose a Freesat tuner and no longer get one of Panasonic's new, improved NeoPDP panels at the TV's heart. This latter fact means that the P42S10 won't give you the same brightness level potential as the P46G10 or the same level of flexibility in reducing your TV's operating power.
That's not to say that the TV isn't decently 'green', though. For instance, it's got one of those increasingly common 'Eco' modes that can adjust the picture's brightness in response to light levels in your room. Also, as with all Panasonic plasmas for quite some time now, the P42S10 is built without using any lead.