What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Mon, 12 Mar 2012, 4:17pm

Panasonic TX-P42ST30

Tested at £550
100100
5

As good as half price, from its initial release it’s no surprise that this set blows our socks off

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For

  • Impressive all-round performance
  • 3D is comfortable
  • plenty of smart services including BBC iPlayer, Acetrax
  • detailed, sharp pictures

Against

  • Typically anaemic flatscreen sound

Such is our confidence in the current Panasonic range, and the ST30 line in particular, we were moved to flag-up this set’s price to whathifi.com readers over Christmas.

Down to £650 (and even less now if you shop around) we hadn’t reviewed it, but having seen the larger – and excellent – TX-P50ST30 sibling, we were quite confident.

Now, it’s crunch time. With an original retail price close to double this, it should certainly have plenty going for it.

This is a plasma set, with active-shutter 3D, a full HD resolution panel and the normal sprinkling of video and audio connections – four HDMIs, two USB connections and Panasonic’s trusty SD card input, for starters.

Web access via smart TV
Of course, like most rivals, it’s a smart TV. Connect it to the internet and you’re granted access to a far less shouty hub of content compared with most rivals.

Sure, this is partly because Panasonic has less to shout about, but there’s still BBC iPlayer, Acetrax, YouTube, social media, internet radio and a few more besides.

And it’s function over form throughout with the TX-P42ST30. The menus are staid but simple to follow, the remote is familiar and workmanlike and the design is presentable if no head-turner.

We can only presume all attention was on the insides, for the picture performance is anything but run-of-the-mill.

Smooth, sharp and scintillating
In fact, for this sort of money it’s ridiculously good. Watching the first season of Boardwalk Empire on Blu-ray, we enjoy realistic, rock-solid black levels alongside vibrant colours.

Edges are sharp and insight is excellent, making for a rounded picture with real texture and depth.

This set doesn’t need HD content to be at its best either. The DVD of Training Day has long been a test-room staple. It shows this Panasonic capable of smooth motion – we opt for motion processing on a low setting – and still delivering a solid picture that’s subtle yet capable of punch.

The Freeview digital tuner has occasional hints of noise but it’s sharp, colourful and detailed.

Panasonic serves up one of the more comfortable 3D pictures we’ve seen and thanks to those deep blacks there’s a good sense of depth and minimal crosstalk.

Just like its bigger brother, this 42in ST30 is an absolute bargain. Delivering a level of performance it really has no right to at this sort of money, and with no gaps of note in the spec, we can’t recommend this TV enough.

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