- Great value
- Contrast-rich pictures
- Freetime works brilliantly
- Motion looks soft
- Slightly limited viewing angle
- Review Price: £429.00
- 42-inch LCD TV with edge LED lighting
- Freetime catch up TV platform built in
- multimedia playback via USB and DLNA
- Extensive picture calibration tools
- Aggressively priced
What is the Panasonic TX-42AS600?
The £429 42AS600 is a value-driven 42-inch LCD TV equipped with a full HD resolution, edge LED lighting, and Smart TV features – including the integrated Freetime catch-up TV platform.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the 42AS600, though, at least from a picture quality point of view, is its use of a VA-type panel rather than the IPS models used across much of the rest of Panasonic’s range. Hopefully this will result in better contrast performance and make the 42AS600 the affordable LCD hit we’ve been waiting for from Panasonic this year.
Panasonic TX-42AS600: Design and Features
The 42AS600 is quite a looker for its money. A slinkily trim black bezel sits around the top, left and right edges, sitting in cute contrast to a metallic silver finish running along the bottom edge. The set’s reasonably trim round the back too by affordable TV standards.
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Connections are solid, with highlights of three HDMIs, two USB inputs, and both LAN and integrated Wi-Fi network options. The network options support media streaming from DLNA-enabled devices plus access to Panasonic’s ring-fenced Smart Viera platform – including the catch-up TV services associated with the Freetime platform.
The addition of Freetime has been hugely significant for Panasonic, as it means that having last year lagged behind some of its rival smart TV platforms where catch-up TV was concerned it’s now up there with the best of them. Only Samsung also offers access to catch-up apps for all the ‘big five’ UK TV channels – but Samsung doesn’t allow you to access this catch-up content via the gloriously straightforward EPG you get on the 42AS600. From one screen you can access live programs and skip back a week to select catchup versions too, with no need to open separate apps.
The 42AS600 also scores points for the simplicity and customisability of its My Homescreen smart interface, and the sophistication and simplicity of its companion Android and iOS apps. For full details on Panasonic’s smart TV platform for 2014, check out our earlier feature.
The VA panel inside the 42AS600 sports a full HD resolution, along with 100Hz processing with a backlight blinking system to boost motion reproduction. There’s no local dimming system, but the use of a VA panel should, based on experience, produce a better contrast performance than Panasonic’s IPS models – at least where black level depths are concerned.
The set’s picture processing and smart features are both powered by a dual-core processor – not bad for this level of the market – and finally, as we’ll cover in more detail in the next section, there’s a strong selection of picture set up tools.
One feature the 42AS600 doesn’t have is 3D playback. For that you’ll need to step up to Panasonic’s AS650 series.
Panasonic TX-42AS600: Set Up
The 42AS600 is actually quite easy to set up. The only key tricks we’d recommend are that you reduce the backlight to 70 for daytime TV viewing and 60 for dark room movie viewing; reduce the contrast to around 80 (if you’ve chosen a preset that leaves it set to its 100 maximum); and turn off all the noise reduction systems when watching HD.
The set’s Vibrant Colour option is best avoided if you like your pictures to look accurately toned rather than heavily saturated. Though that’s not to say you shouldn’t experiment with toggling it on and off, as its less balanced but bolder approach might appeal to some tastes.
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The Adaptive Backlight feature is best left on overall, as it delivers quite a potent boost to black level response. Though it does also cause another smaller issue of its own – more on this in the picture quality section.
If you want to go into a much more detailed calibration of your TV pictures, this is possible on the 42AS600 courtesy of an Advanced Settings menu that impressively includes white balance, colour management and gamma settings.
How we test televisions
We test every TV we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.