We’ve reason to be grateful to Panasonic for the TX-P42X10B.

Spring is just around the corner, and this is usually a time when TV manufacturers baffle us with a torrent of new sets. So to get the first of Panasonic’s Viera range a little ahead of the deluge can only be good news.

And if you accept the ’X10B for what it is – a ‘merely’ HD-ready, 720p telly – it’s a great-value plasma set.

No Full HD? No problem

There’s one significant hurdle to overcome before you add the Panasonic to your shortlist: its less-than-fashionable 1024x768, HD Ready resolution.

Naturally, the ’X10B’s price reflects this, but if you’re already building up a Blu-ray collection, you might be inclined to restrict your search to Full HD screens only. Don’t.

Specs appeal

After all, in every other respect, the Panasonic has perfectly reasonable specs. Three HDMI inputs should be plenty, and all the less-exciting inputs (component, RGB Scart, S-Video and composite) are represented, too.

Twin-tuners is only sensible, and an SD card-reader is a nice touch. The slim ’X10B is glossily finished and the on-screen menus exhibit the usual Panasonic good sense. Only the remote, which feels cheaper than before, strikes a false note.

Natural colours abound

We start with the digital and analogue TV tuners, and the Panasonic impresses from the off. It can’t make David Dickinson look normal, obviously, but those around him enjoy natural skin-tones.

The whole colour palette is convincingly neutral, in fact, and the plasma technology virtually guarantees deep, satisfying black tones.

Switching to DVD content, the ’X10B continues the good work. Scaling the 576 resolution images to fit its panel confidently, the Panasonic restates all the admirable qualities of its TV picture and adds in greater stability and detail retrieval.

It’s prone to the occasional tizzy when asked to track unpredictable or super-fast motion, but on the whole it’s very enjoyable.

Contrast opinions

Unsurprisingly, you’ll get the best results when downscaling native 1080p Blu-ray images.

Review continues after the break…

The truly risible RocknRolla shows off the ’X10B’s ability with colours in general and blacks in particular – contrasts are especially impressive here, and movement is assured.

There’s a shortage of detail when compared to similarly sized Full HD sets, and a corresponding hint of softness to edges – but then 42in Full HD plasmas don’t often cost £700, do they?

Across all inputs and sources, sound is of the ho-hum variety – no weight to speak of, little in the way of dynamic heft and prone to sibilance at volume – but that’s par for the course at this sort of price.

And frankly, it’s not enough to put us off the excellent TX-P42X10B.

Stuff says... 

Panasonic TX-P42X10B review

Get beyond the unglamorous resolution and the TX-P42X10B is nothing but fantastic value