Having previously reviewed the P42VT20’s bigger brother, the P50VT20, there doesn’t seem much point going into every single feature again here. So let’s just quickly run through the really key ones, namely a full HD resolution (unusual on a 42in plasma TV), 600Hz Sub-field drive processing, two pairs of 3D glasses included in the box, the use at the TV’s heart of Panasonic’s colour, brightness and contrast-boosting NeoPDP screen design technology, and Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation system for reducing judder.
People who’ve followed the arrival of 3D from its earliest days will know that Panasonic originally seemed to deem it a format for the big screen, only initially launching 50in and 65in 3D models. And we have to say from first impressions of watching 3D on the new P42VT20 that we understand Panasonic’s big-screen thinking, for the impact of 3D is undoubtedly reduced on this smaller screen.
While this is worth mentioning, though, it isn’t fair grounds for actually dissing the TV. After all, it’s just been made to satisfy a market need, and still delivers a very fruitful 3D experience if you can sit quite close to it.
What’s more, the P42VT20 definitely nudges its performance levels a good step or two higher than those of the aforementioned P42GT20. The main reason for this is that it has a richer contrast and black level, which helps deliver the finest black colour seen on a plasma TV since Pioneer’s still-legendary KURO models.
It’s no surprise from this to find that dark scenes are even more engaging, credible and above all natural than they were on the P42GT20. The same strength also helps the flagship model deliver a more well rounded and consistently convincing colour palette that’s especially noticeable when watching standard definition pictures.
It’s great to see, too, that the P42VT20’s class-leading black levels don’t come at the expense of shadow detail since, unlike all LCD screens, plasma’s per-pixel illumination system means there’s far less need to compromise the screen’s overall brightness output when showing a dark scene. Plasma’s self-illuminating properties mean, too, that you can watch the screen from a really wide angle without having to worry about the picture losing contrast or colour.
Next on our long list of positives, HD pictures look outstandingly sharp on the P42VT20, especially from Blu-ray discs. And this sharpness largely remains during action-packed scenes, thanks to plasma not suffering with the response time-related motion blur issues that LCD TVs do.
So far we’ve focussed on 2D pictures, but the P42VT20 continues to impress when asked to deal with an extra dimension. The main reason for this is that as with previous 3D plasma TVs we’ve tested, the P42VT20 suffers far less with the dreaded crosstalk ghosting artefact than any of its LCD-based rivals.
Crosstalk isn’t completely absent; we could certainly see it when playing Call Of Duty Black Ops in 3D, and at times when watching Sky’s 3D channel. But it really is minimal in the context of the 3D TV world as a whole.