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.