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Panasonic Viera TX-P42V20 review

John Archer




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Panasonic Viera TX-P42V20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-P42V20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-P42V20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-P42V20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-P42V20
  • VIERA TX-P42V20 42" Plasma TV (1920x1080, 600Hz, HDTV)


Our Score:


If ever there was a TV with the on-paper specs and already-proven heritage to have us drooling, it’s the P42V20. For its specification is mighty similar to Panasonic’s VT20 3D TVs, minus the 3D functionality. And regular readers will know how well the P50VT20 fared when we reviewed it recently.

The reality of reviewing the P42V20 starts with a surprise, though, as it wears a distinctive grey colour scheme in place of the usual Panasonic black, or the bronze colour enjoyed by the VT20 models. This grey almost looks metallic thanks to the glossy quality of the finish.

It’s a shame, though, that this smart finish hasn’t been accompanied by a new design; the P42V20 still wears the same rather staid - though nicely built - design as models lower down Panasonic’s range. Still, while the P42V20 might not have the same glamour factor as star sets from some other manufacturers’ ranges, relatively conservative readers might prefer its toned down approach.

The set’s connectivity is very good. There are four HDMIs, as we’d expect of any high-grade TV now, but these are joined by a more than healthy suite of multimedia resources. The most basic of these is a D-Sub PC port, but there’s also an SD slot, plus two USB ports and an Ethernet jack.

The USB ports are particularly interesting. For as well as accepting a variety of photo, music and video (including DivX HD) files, as we’d hope, they can also be used to record programmes from the TV’s built in Freesat and Freeview HD tuners. These recordings are more or less indistinguishable from the original broadcasts, aside, perhaps, from a slightly more sibilant tone to audio.

However, as we’ve noted when reviewing previous Panasonic USB-recording TVs, there are a few practical limitations. First, you can only play back recordings on the TV you made them through. Also, you need a USB HDD with at least 160GB of memory. And finally, so far the only brand of USB HDD confirmed to work by Panasonic is Buffalo’s JustStore Desktop HD-EU2-UK series.

With Samsung’s USB recording TVs, there’s much more flexibility over what USB devices you can use, so we can’t understand why Panasonic’s system has to be so restrictive.

We’re not done with the USB’s talents yet, though. For you can also use them to access your wireless network and Panasonic’s Viera Cast online service (more on this in a moment), courtesy of a USB Wi-Fi dongle handily included in the package, rather than being an optional extra.

However, if you’d rather take the hard-wired route to get online, that’s where the Ethernet port comes in. You can also use this port to stream in files from a DLNA-enabled PC. Plus, of course, it could come in handy for supporting future interactive services from the Freesat and Freeview HD services - such as the inevitable BBC iPlayer.

Michael McG

June 15, 2010, 12:14 pm

looks like i will be placing an order for one of these tomorrow.. for delivery next week.. i want a plasma and can only fit 42" in my setup.. so it ticks all the boxes.. it doesnt have 3d but i think its about the only drawback.. i dont think 3d will have enough content to justify a tv for a couple of years, at which point i'll probably want to buy a new tv again anyway.. just like to say - the review is good, but a little light on detail compared to some other reviews i have seen of the tv.. most suggest to leave off the intelligent frame creation as it leaves everything look like video.. and introduces unwanted artifects on hd material

Michael McG

June 15, 2010, 5:14 pm

Hi John - i know its a while ago but you also reviews my current tv

Sony Bravia KDL-40W4000 Full HD 40in LCD TV


My question to you is - is the pansonic a major upgrade in terms of picture quality over the Sony? I had the Sony ISF calibrated so its pretty good, but i feel the black level could be a lot better.



Geoff Richards

June 15, 2010, 5:47 pm

@Michael McG: while I haven't seen either TV in person, a move to a V20 brings with it two main benefits on paper. 1) It's plasma, so blacks will be much richer than your current LCD TV, and 2) it's plasma, so it should handle motion better.

Beyond that, I can't really comment myself with any degree of authority.


June 15, 2010, 5:53 pm

@Michael: "...i feel the black level could be a lot better"

I know how you feel, that's generally my response to most LCD sets, including my Samsung Series 6 which is a similar vintage. I think it's safe to assume that any high-end plasma will be far superior to your current set in this regard.


June 15, 2010, 6:28 pm

My problem is that I have yet another TV to choose from.

I want a TV to go upstairs in the Snug. It will probably be used a couple of times a week and run a mixture of Freeview HD (I live 3 miles from Crystal Palace), video from the PC, iPlayer and DVD's.

I'm just not sure whether I should put something cheap up there, or go for the G20 or now this. I prefer plasma to LCD though and have a habit of err'ing towards the high end stuff :)

Too much choice is not always a good thing - lol...

Simon J

June 16, 2010, 12:29 pm

Nice review although I have to say I am slightly disappointed that this screen did not fair better (design and sound.....come on Panasonic). I guess 9 out of 10 is still a good score....but should we have expected better? This has left me with a couple of questions:

1) Do you know if you will be reviewing the bigger brother of this set....namely the TX-P50V20B? Or should I just refer to the 3D version TX-P50VT20B as the differences with standard 2D version will be insignificant?

2) Concentrating on purely image quality, is this set on par or dare I say it better than the final 9th generation Pioneer displays? If not....can Panasonic ever achieve such a goal?

3) Do you think plasma technology has reached its pinnacle or can Panasonic, etc do any more with this technology to keep it ahead of the upcoming LCD / OMLED technology screen advancements?

Al 2

June 16, 2010, 2:23 pm

So can I just plug my satellite dish in the back and get HD (the free stuff?)

Geoff Richards

June 16, 2010, 2:26 pm

@Al: this model (indeed, most Panasonic's these days) has built-in Freeview HD and Freesat HD. Since you have a dish, please refer to the Freesat HD site for details: http://www.freesat.co.uk/in...


June 16, 2010, 7:02 pm

Again no word on the flickering that many of us (I'm one of them) see in brighter areas of a plasma TV image.

On a Swedish site selling televisions I found this for the Panasonic G20 plasmas:

� HZ is misleading – I know they say it has that on paper, but that is NOT the update frequency that is 600 Hz but the Sub Field frequency. Two totally different things (12 layers of Sub Fields that are show behind each pixel in standard frequency (50 Hz)). They've just multiplied the two and say it's 600 HZ!!! But again, it is NOT the update frequency that is 600 Hz, it's still 50 Hz.”

(translated from Swedish)


50 Hz is the same update frequency many of the old CRT TVs had!

Some of the later CRT TVs had 100 Hz update frequency – why can't the plasmas of today also have that? Is it a technology limitation for plasmas or what's the reason behind just using 50 Hz?


June 16, 2010, 9:21 pm

I love the look of this. I think the grey looks understated and classy. I'd happily have this hanging on my living room wall!

@ star-affinity - I'm quite surprised to hear what you're saying. I always thought I was very sensitive to image flicker, but apparently I'm obviously not that bad! Back in Uni all the CRT monitors were left at the 60Hz Windows XP default and locked down by IT. I seemed to be the only one constantly bothered by this and would get headaches. At home I had my Mitsubishi DiamondPro screen set to 85Hz. I could still see flicker at 75Hz.

With my 20" Dell IPS TFT monitor I see flicker/strobing on a completely grey screen (not white, just grey). I rarely spend time looking at grey screens though so it doesn't bother me too much, just on very few website backgrounds.

My Panasonic Panasonic TH42PX80 plasma though I've never had a problems witht. Maybe slightly on a completely white static image but I only see them when channels end their programming. My old Sony Trinitorn (50Hz) I hated for its unstable image because of flicker. Do you connect your PC to your TV by any chance?


June 16, 2010, 9:26 pm

@Simon J - Design is quite subjective, of course. As for sound, I'd expect that most spending this much on a 42" TV clearly appreciates quality and would likely be investing similarly in a sound system. I'd prefer TVs like this had no speakers at all adding to bulk and cost. Having cheap, discrete speakers is a decent compromise in my opinion. I'd hate to be paying more and adding to the size to accommodate speakers I'd never use personally.


June 17, 2010, 3:04 pm

Agree with star-affinity. No TV in 2010 should flicker, yet the Panasonic plasmas do. This, along with the colour banding, would eliminate them from my short list. I've lost count of the number of forum posts I've read where people have returned these sets because of flicker and banding. Great TVs otherwise!

Tech Ryder

June 17, 2010, 4:08 pm

My question would be, i am in a position to order this TV but i am now concerned that the VT20 will be a better set for 2D Picture Quality. If so, is it worth the 500-600 pounds excess? Or are both these sets the same in 2D performance. I am not at all concerned with 3D, i just wan't the best 2D PQ i can buy.


June 19, 2010, 4:17 am

>>And finally, so far the only brand of USB HDD confirmed to work by Panasonic is Buffalo’s JustStore Desktop HD-EU2-UK series. >>

As I keep pointing out in the latest Panasonic TV reviews, any USB external hard drive should work, providing you scroll down from the Timer Recording screen's first column through Ext Rec>Reminder>USB external hard drive....:-)


June 19, 2010, 4:22 am


I've had the TX-P42G20B since it came out a few weeks ago (the first 2010 Panny to be released and the model I'd already decided on) and apparently the difference between this and the reviewed V20 model is difficult to tell in real life.


June 21, 2010, 12:59 pm

Please review TX-L42V20

Michael McG

June 21, 2010, 5:12 pm

well i'm ordering mine tomorrow.. should have it wednesday/thursday... going to have to be my tv for next 5 years.. then hopefully 3d will have settled down.. i was tempted to wait until a 42" vt20 comes out.. but there isnt enough 3d content to justify it at the moment..

Michael McG

June 24, 2010, 6:45 pm

got my v20 yesterday, early days but loving it so far.. most obviously difference from previous LCD ? black level.. its streets ahead on the plasma..

John Logie Baird

July 2, 2010, 9:59 pm

I have ordered one of these. Living where we do, it's taking over a month to get here.

Living in the UK, you get all the advantages, Freeview, Freesat and good shops who get the product quickly.

Here in Europe we don't. Be grateful, it's organised.

My profession is camera control, and telecine line-up. I hope that this TV lives up to its expectations. Having seen many revolting 'flat displays', I have waited until the right product was available.

I don't want smearing, I want good pictures, good flesh-tones and I don't want motion-judder.

John Logie Baird

July 7, 2010, 4:48 pm

May I ask a question of those lucky enough to already posses one of these prestigious bits of kit?

You will gather that my future TX-P42V20 still hasn't arrived........

Are the inputs all different? By this I mean is HDMI 1 different to SCART 1?

This might be basic, but I have heard that (on certain manufacturer's products) if (for example) SCART 1 was being used for (say) a DVD Player, HDMI 1 couldn't be used for (say) a DSAT HD RX.

I presume that all inputs are individual.

Many thanks for your time.

John Logie Baird

July 9, 2010, 10:22 pm

I have just been told that my TX P-42V20 is due to be delivered on the 13th.... that's four days!

John Logie Baird

July 15, 2010, 2:34 am

It arrived on time.

Initially? I'm very impressed.

SD (from a Humax DSAT box) looks better than I was expecting.

DSAT from Astra 1 and Hotbird is OK. Editing (and deleting all the dross) is a bit of a chore.

Initial set-up went well, with an internet-delivered update which was performed very well via the USB WiFi.

Now I am getting used to it, and letting it settle down.

John Logie Baird

July 22, 2010, 1:05 pm

After nearly a week, I am still learning. It is excellent.

I am having to instal a LAN cable as the WiFi isn't strong enough to connect quickly. Sometimes I need to re-plug the WiFi unit into the TV to persuade it to connect. Sometimes it is OK and connects immediately. When I do get reception it is only two bars out of five(?).

I am about to instal a Home Plug connection. When Viera Cast connects, the picture quality depends on the source material (of course!). But on good material, it is very good considering the signal path and route. Entirely satisfactory for a long film.

John Logie Baird

July 31, 2010, 9:20 pm

By the way, those in the UK should be aware that this model excludes the UK software (Freesat, Freeview) and is several hundred pounds Sterling more expensive in Europe.

The competition in the UK ensures good deals.

This Panasonic is still a good 'telly'.

And that, when all is said and done, is what really matters.

Bells, whistles, plugs, sockets, all pale into insignificance when what you want to do is 'watch a programme', not examine every pixel of every frame.

Don't get me wrong, but remember what you are trying to do.

I have now installed a HomePlug and that's much faster to connect, and more reliable (there is a lot of concrete and metal-work between the router and the TV). I think there's an IP conflict somewhere, but I'm working on it!

All I would like now is more Viera Cast material....


August 8, 2010, 10:24 pm


A little late reply, but here goes.

The flicker isn't super obvious, especially not if it's a scene with a lot of action and camera movement. Also in darker scenes I'm not bothered, but as soon as there's brighter areas being displayed the flicker is quite noticeable. I looked at this TV in a store and asked the personnel to put on a Blu-ray movie. I think it was Iron Man and there was a scene when the camera panned out from a news paper and the white areas clearly flickered to me.

It seems not all are bothered/seeing this though, but I think it a bit sad. I'd really like the ”stillness” of a LED, then this TV (the 50-inch version) would be something I'd consider buying. Now I'm not sure...

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