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Panasonic Viera TX-P42S20 - Connectivity and Picture

John Archer

By John Archer



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The P42S20’s connections are rather hit and miss. There are three HDMIs when we might have dreamed of four (though one is built to the v1.4 spec to offer an audio return channel), there’s no USB input, and there’s no D-Sub PC input for simple PC connectivity. But there is an SD card slot for playing back photo and video files, plus an Ethernet port for accessing potential future Freeview HD services, like, most likely, the BBC iPlayer.

There are a couple more screen specifications worth running by you before getting into how the set performs: a decent though (by today’s standards) not mind-blowing claimed contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1, and a potentially more telling response time of just 0.001ms. In fact, the screen’s response time is so negligible that it’s clear Panasonic only even bothers quoting the figure to rub LCD’s nose in it!

There are also one or two options in the onscreen menus worth running by you, namely a reasonable Vivid Colour option for boosting saturations, and a Resolution Enhancer tucked away in a distant submenu that actually proves quite handy at improving the sharpness of standard definition sources.

As hinted much earlier in this review, the P42S20’s pictures feel slightly disappointing after the glories of Panasonic’s G20, V20 and VT20 models. Or perhaps more tellingly, they also look a little bit like yesterday’s news when compared with some of the better new LCD TVs around - especially some of the LED-lit models.

The main reason we say this is that pictures don’t look that dynamic, thanks to a lack of brightness, and some slightly compressed-looking colour tones - especially when watching standard definition.

The lack of brightness makes the P42S20 a problematic option for a very bright environment, while the occasional rogue colour tones, which particularly affect reds and greens, highlight just how large an improvement the 2010 NeoPDP system has introduced over the 2009 version.

Before we get too despondent, though, it should be said that HD pictures don’t suffer with nearly so many colour errors as standard definition ones. Add this to some solid if not exactly world-beating sharpness and detail levels, and you’ve got a TV that makes a good fist of Blu-rays and decent HD broadcasts - especially considering its pretty measly price point.

The P42S20 also delivers motion without serious judder or seemingly any blur, with the latter achievement standing in stark contrast to the sort of resolution loss with moving objects we might expect to see with a similarly affordable LCD TV.


July 15, 2010, 1:54 pm

This does seem like a sweet deal. I think you guys need a new badge for bargain products like this that aren't top of the range but offer best value for money. Trusted Reviews "Best Value" or "Bargain Alert".


July 15, 2010, 2:59 pm

An other way to look at this, is this: It's a 42" 1080p plasma screen monitor for your PC which costs £1,400 less than the 24" DreamColour LCD from HP.

Anyone want to impress their clients?

evan fotis

July 15, 2010, 5:14 pm

plasmas are unfortunately not recommended for pc monitors 'cause they suffer from image retention which leads to burn in after repetitive use...

as for the "milky blacks" i'd appreciate a more concrete comment like it produces 0.xxx nits black level at 1xx brightness, using the checkerboard pattern, so we know what we're talking about 'cause the vast majority of ccfl lit lcd's reach nowhere near a plasma on that and the viewing angle aspect.


July 16, 2010, 5:06 pm

@ evan

Agreed - but as a secondary monitor to demonstrate media, such as motion graphics, CAD or to colaborate on editing, surely it must be a consideration?

evan fotis

July 16, 2010, 6:45 pm

it sure is considering price/performane!

btw my 42U10 is way more impressive than any lcd display when showing video and mograph to clients. best display for 500 euros....(but not recommended as a monitor with the GUI loaded for hours.)

In your post you compared the big plasma to 2480 dreamcolor, a totally different kind of monitor.

If you want an accurate wide-gamut PC display then the Nec PA 241W is an excellent choice.

If you are looking for a sleek narrow bezel (1.5cm) digital signage display, made for staying on long hours and even pivoting, look for the PHILIPS 42BDL4251V or the pricier Nec P401 with PVA panel.

Double the price of the Panny, but more pro looking with the slim bezel, and versatile for moving around, rotating etc.

Still the Plasma will have a much punchier picture, faster responce for video, deeper blacks and viewing angles (very important for collaborative work, so everybody around IS able to see, and sees the same thing)


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