• Panasonic_TXP42GT50
Our Verdict 
A sensational all-rounder, the TX-P42GT50B shows Panasonic has lost none of its plasma magic in 2012
For 
Excellent off-air images
brilliant detail
punchy colours
simple to set up and use
Against 
Some rivals do slightly better smart features, but it’s nothing to lose sleep over
Reviewed on

In 2011, Panasonic’s GT30 plasma TVs were unstoppable. We gave each screen size an Award, and the best-of-the-best 42in version, the Panasonic TX-P42GT30,  was our TV Product Of The Year.

The initial signs are promising, especially if our experience of the 50in version of this screen is anything to go by. The P50GT50B received a rave review in the May issue, but you can’t just assume that this smaller screen will follow suit. Panasonic TVs have always been easy to set up. You can, of course, spend hours playing with every setting under the sun and it might pay to do so if you’re not happy with the picture, but there’s a lot to be said for the Panasonic’s simplicity. You can pick from Normal, Cinema, THX 3D and Game picture presets, or you can pay for an engineer to calibrate using the ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) presets. The remote has lost last year’s silver finish and now looks better suited in  black, plus the 3D glasses have undergone minor surgery and had a slight technical change, too. They’re lighter, more streamlined and comfier, and now use Bluetooth to sync, so they can even be used with some TVs from other manufacturers. Excellent depth to draw you in TT3D: Closer to the Edge is one of the more convincing 3D films out there and certainly looks impressive on the GT50. The screen displays an excellent sense of depth, which really draws the viewer in. The opening scenes of slow motion action and the Isle of Man TT riders getting ready is a great chance for the Panasonic to shine. Detail levels are immense: you can see every stitch on the riders’ leathers, and the textures on the bikes look so beautifully rendered that you could almost climb  into the screen and hop on for a ride. Watching Moneyball in 2D, the action is  a little more sedate, but no less engrossing. The Panasonic’s black levels are as deep and luscious as we’ve ever seen them. But  the screen isn’t turned into a blotchy  black mess; there’s detail in the shadows, occasionally illuminated by punchy lights. Brad Pitt’s skin tone looks pretty near flawless, too, as does his finely coiffured hair and designer stubble. Funny, that… Hook up the Xbox 360 to indulge in a spot of FIFA 12 and, in the TV’s game mode, the Panasonic handles the ball and player movements in its stride. Lag isn’t an issue even if you decide to indulge in a spot of 2D-to-3D conversion, either. The colour palette is luscious, while definition and detail on the players’ kits are very good. The option of Freeview HD and Freesat tuners means there’s an avenue for everyone to access digital TV. Viewed  via either, there’s little to grumble about. There’s a little noise and flicker when viewing standard–definition fare, but the TV generally does well to keep tabs on it. Make the step up to high-definition 1080i broadcasts and the TX-P42GT50B really gets into its stride. Later With Jools Holland on BBC HD looks superb: the studio set looks inviting and realistic, and detail levels are as high as we’ve seen on any TV this year. If we were being forced to choose between tuners, then the Freesat one would get the nod because of its extra crispness and stability – but we’re only talking a subtle difference here. Sound quality among flatscreen TVs  is much of a muchness, but the GT50 doesn’t sound quite as deficient as some rival sets we’ve reviewed this year. Kept  in music mode (as opposed to speech), there’s greater weight to soundtracks, although you wouldn’t want to push the speakers too hard. A screen like this deserves a soundbar along the likes of the Yamaha YSP-2200 (£800) at the very least. Decent online offerings To access the TV’s smart features you  have to make a beeline for the ‘Internet’ button on the remote. This opens up  Viera Connect, Panasonic’s hub for all things web-based. There’s a marketplace through which  you can download apps of various types, including games and news feeds. You’re already set up for the likes of Netflix, Twitter, Picasa and Skype (although for  this you’ll need the optional TY-CC10HD Skype Communications Camera, £133). The home page is a little basic and navigating takes more button-presses  than it should. Rival manufacturers  offer a more satisfying and better integrated smart experience, but the basic features  are here, including a passable, Flash-supporting web browser. Standard-  and high-def programmes viewed  through iPlayer are watchable, although motion isn’t as convincing as it is when watching the live broadcast. Panasonic has produced some remarkable all-round sets in the past,  and this 42in GT50 model is arguably one of its best and most memorable to date.  It’s as accomplished with standard-def  as it is with high-definition fare, and 3D  is eminently watchable too. The general user experience is hugely rewarding. We know it’s early days, but the GT50  has set a seriously high benchmark. 

So you can probably understand why all eyes are now on this year’s equivalent screen.

MORE: Panasonic TX-P42GT60B TV for 2013

The initial signs are promising, especially if our experience of the 50in version of this screen is anything to go by. 

The Panasonic TX-P50GT50B received a rave review in the May 2012 issue, but you can’t just assume that this smaller screen will follow suit.

Panasonic TX-P42GT50: Installation

Panasonic TVs have always been easy to set up. You can, of course, spend hours playing with every setting under the sun and it might pay to do so if you’re not happy with the picture, but there’s a lot to be said for the Panasonic’s simplicity. 

You can pick from Normal, Cinema, THX 3D and Game picture presets, or you can pay for an engineer to calibrate using the ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) presets.

The remote has lost last year’s silver finish and now looks better suited in black, plus the 3D glasses have undergone minor surgery and had a slight technical change, too. 

They’re lighter, more streamlined and comfier, and now use Bluetooth to sync, so they can even be used with some TVs from other manufacturers.

That's because a new standard, set by the Full HD 3D glasses initiative and backed by the likes of Panasonic, Samsung and Sony, means that, in this instance, Panasonic's 2012 3D glasses will work with Samsung's 2012 3D TVs. Look out for the logo on the packaging and in the manuals.

Panasonic TX-P42GT50: Picture performance

Fire up the screen, pop on the 3D glasses and you're in for a treat. TT3D: Closer to the Edge is one of the more convincing 3D films out there and certainly looks impressive on the TX-P42GT50.

The screen displays an excellent sense of depth, which really draws the viewer in. The opening scenes of slow motion action and the Isle of Man TT riders getting ready is a great chance for the Panasonic to shine.

Detail levels are immense: you can see every stitch on the riders’ leathers, and the textures on the bikes look so beautifully rendered that you could almost climb into the screen and hop on for a ride.

Watching Moneyball in 2D, the action is a little more sedate, but no less engrossing. The Panasonic’s black levels are as deep and luscious as we’ve ever seen them. 

But the screen isn’t turned into a blotchy black mess; there’s detail in the shadows, occasionally illuminated by punchy lights. Brad Pitt’s skin tone looks pretty near flawless, too, as does his finely coiffured hair and designer stubble. Funny, that…

Panasonic TX-P42GT50: Gaming

Hook up the Xbox 360 to indulge in a spot of FIFA 12 and, in the TV’s game mode, the Panasonic handles the ball and player movements in its stride. 

Lag isn’t an issue even if you decide to indulge in a spot of 2D-to-3D conversion, either. The colour palette is luscious, while definition and detail on the players’ kits are very good.

The choice of Freeview HD and Freesat tuners means there’s an avenue for everyone to access digital TV. Viewed via either, there’s little to grumble about. 

There’s a little noise and flicker when viewing standard–definition fare, but the TV generally does well to keep tabs on it. 

Make the step up to high-definition 1080i broadcasts and the TX-P42GT50B really gets into its stride. 

Later With Jools Holland on BBC HD looks superb: the studio set looks inviting and realistic, and detail levels are as high as we’ve seen on any TV this year. 

If we were being forced to choose between tuners, then the Freesat one would get the nod because of its extra crispness and stability – but we’re only talking a subtle difference here.

More after the break

Panasonic TX-P42GT50

Panasonic TX-P42GT50: Sound quality

Sound quality among flatscreen TVs is much of a muchness, but the TX-P42GT50 doesn’t sound quite as deficient as some rival sets we’ve reviewed this year.

Kept in music mode (as opposed to speech), there’s greater weight to soundtracks, although you wouldn’t want to push the speakers too hard. 

A screen like this deserves a soundbar along the likes of the Yamaha YSP-2200 (£800) at the very least.

Panasonic TX-P42GT50: Internet TV

To access the TV’s smart features you have to make a beeline for the ‘Internet’ button on the remote. This opens up Viera Connect, Panasonic’s hub for all things web-based.

There’s a marketplace through which you can download apps of various types, including games and news feeds. 

You’re already set up for the likes of Netflix, Twitter, Picasa and Skype (although for this you’ll need the optional TY-CC10 HD Skype Communications Camera, £133).

The home page is a little basic and navigating takes more button-presses than it should. 

Rival manufacturers offer a more satisfying and better integrated smart experience, but the basic features are here, including a passable, Flash-supporting web browser. 

Standard- and high-def programmes viewed through iPlayer are watchable, although motion isn’t as convincing as it is when watching the live broadcast.

Verdict

Panasonic has produced some remarkable all-round sets in the past, and this 42in GT50 model is arguably one of its best and most memorable to date. 

It’s as accomplished with standard-definition as it is with high-definition fare, and 3D is eminently watchable too. 

The general user experience is hugely rewarding. We know it’s early days, but the Panasonic TX-P42GT50 has set a seriously high benchmark. 

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