- Excellent contrast and black levels
- Little-to-no motion blur
- Lacks LCD-level brightness
- Middling sound quality
- No 3D
Review Price £599.99
While AV enthusiasts’ eyes might be focussed right now on the highest reaches of Panasonic’s current plasma TV range, as represented by the brand’s impressive, 3D-capable VT20 models, the rather more unassuming P42S20 still look son paper to have plenty of pulling power.
For starters, there’s its price: finding a 42in plasma TV selling for a few pennies under £600 is a cause for potential celebration - especially when that TV sports the usually dependable Panasonic name and a Freeview HD tuner.
But also giving the set more ‘shelf appeal’ than we’d expect for £600 are its 600Hz processing engine, its claim to be built using Panasonic’s impressive ‘NeoPDP’ technology, and the fact that it manages to deliver a Full HD resolution.
Actually, the three key features of the P42S20 referred to in the previous sentence all warrant a little more explanation. The 600Hz engine, in particular, is actually a controversial affair, since the screen doesn’t truly refresh itself 600 times a second in the way you’d normally expect the 'Hz' terminology to describe. Instead, the 600Hz terminology describes a situation where the pixels in the screen are flashed 12 times for each 50Hz frame, in a bid to increase image stability and reduce judder.
The NeoPDP technology in the P42S20 also comes with a catch - arguably a bigger one than the 600Hz claims, in fact. For it’s actually last year’s NeoPDP technology, rather than the massively revamped, hugely impressive NeoPDP system used on Panasonic’s higher-level new TVs, from the G20 series upwards.
Personally, we think it’s a little foolish of Panasonic not to make this fact more obvious in its marketing of the higher-spec TVs - maybe by calling the revamped NeoPDP system NeoPDP 2 or something inspired like that. For we really would feel sorry for anyone who bought a P42S20 on the back of its NeoPDP claims believing its pictures to be as good as those of the new NeoPDP generation.
The P42S20’s Full HD resolution is, thankfully, a rather less controversial bit of good news. Fitting 1920 x 1080 plasma cells into a 42in frame remains notoriously difficult, so it’s really nice to find Panasonic making the effort even with a 42in TV that sits just one rung off the bottom of its current TV ‘ladder’.
Panasonic has made more effort with the P42S20’s design than it usually does too, with an unusual but likeable, gently pimpled bezel finish, and subtle infusion of blue along the bottom edge. The sculpting, though, is still pretty basic.