Before we introduce the TH-42PX70, we’d like to clear a few things up. Plasma is not inferior to LCD. Plasma TVs don’t need to be re-gassed after a few years. And Full HD sets aren’t automatically better than HD-Ready models.
This is because there are several factors that affect picture quality – resolution, yes, but black levels, contrast, colour accuracy, motion smoothness and digital noise can all have as much impact on your enjoyment of a TV, particularly when you’re watching standard-def.
With all that in mind, consider Panasonic’s brilliant TH-42PX70. It’s not the best plasma TV ever made (that’s a Pioneer) or the sharpest (that’s any Panasonic or Pioneer with Full HD), but it’s easily the best value telly in town.
Absurdly good value
Here’s why. Panasonic nominally asks £1000 for its 42in set: shop around, and you’ll easily get that down to £750 or less. That’s a hell of a lot of quality for your cash.
The Panasonic gives you an excellent digital TV tuner, able to decipher even the noisiest, blockiest Freeview channel and present a viewable, natural picture.
It also shines with DVD, producing a film-like image with considerable contrast and insight into low-light scenes: it’s so much more watchable, especially with the lights down, than many same-priced LCD rivals.
Impressive 1080p scaling
Of course, where those LCD rivals score is in their higher pixel count, but their advantages aren’t as clear-cut as you might think. Most sets in the Panasonic’s class are 1366x768 designs, with only a few mustering the top-spec 1920x1080 Full HD resolution.
And besides, the TH-42PX70 readily accepts 1080p images (in fact, Panasonic makes much of the quality of the set’s scaling), and will also handle 24fps video without fuss.
Feed it a Blu-ray signal, and you’ll be thrilled at the results: motion is smooth, black levels excellent, and the picture wonderfully three-dimensional. Granted, as you can read elsewhere, Panasonic’s sibling set, the Full HD TH-42PX70, is better still, being sharper and more defined, but then it costs more. Whether you think that premium worth paying is up to you, and your credit card limit.