Connection options are exactly what you’d expect from a TV at this price point. You get three HDMI ports, a set of component video inputs, two SCART connectors, a D-SUB PC input, S-Video and composite video. There’s also an SD card slot, but before you get too excited, it’s only for displaying images and won’t playback any video formats. And of course there’s a CI slot for adding subscription channels to the built-in Freeview tuner.
Like the TX-P37X10 that John reviewed a few weeks back, the TX-P42X10 sports a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1. Of course the native contrast ratio is quoted at a far more conservative 20,000:1, but it’s worth remembering that these numbers are generally less deceiving on plasma screens as opposed to LCD. Now, I’m not going to tell you that this TV delivers groundbreaking black levels, because it doesn’t. But what I will say is that even an entry-level plasma TV like this produces far deeper blacks than the majority of LCD screens on the market.
While on the subject of image quality, I have to agree with John’s assessment of the 37in variant of this TV and say that it’s not quite as bright as I would have liked. The lack of brightness didn’t alarm me in the way it did John, but then since this is a 42in screen with near enough the same resolution as the 37in, the plasma chambers will be that bit larger, and therefore it should be brighter. That said, anyone buying a plasma TV should already be aware that it’s not designed for viewing in bright sunlight. If you haven’t got curtains or blinds in your living room, plasma probably isn’t for you.
The trade off you’re making for plasma’s lack of brightness in the face of LCD is black level response, which I’ve already mentioned. Viewed in the correct environment, the TX-P42X10 produces good levels of detail in low light scenes, with none of the grey effect that plagues many LCD TVs. Even with the right environment though, I can’t help but think that this TV doesn’t provide as much visual punch as other Panasonic plasmas I’ve looked at. I didn’t, however, notice any of the strange colour casts that John encountered with the TX-P37X10 – well, not while watching HD sources anyway.