Panasonic Viera TX-P42UT50
Panasonic’s entry-level plasma proves that you don’t need to spurge on a flagship model to get a high quality display. Built around a 3D ready Full HD panel (Active Shutter specs extra), it offers crisp detail and bold colours. That said, the set lacks the black filtering found at the top of the brand’s plasma line. It still goes dark with contrast quoted at 4,000,000:1.
You are limited to just two rear-panel HDMI inputs though, which could prove frustrating. Media playback from local USB is comprehensive and Panasonic’s on-line streaming portal, complete with BBC iPlayer and Netflix, is only ever a network connection away. Solid value.
Reg Rating 80%
More info Panasonic
Arguably the best built screen in our group, this son et lumière TV features the Spectra 2 iteration of Philips’ trademark Ambilight illumination, which casts a multicoloured halo around the screen. Picture quality is excellent, provided you dial down the sharpness and treat the brand’s HD Natural Motion processing with caution. Audio is also a cut above, the 2 x 14W output having both volume and body. 3D is of the cheap and cheerful Passive variety.
Without being over-loaded, Philips’ on-line IPTV portal is fine, where you’ll find BBC iPlayer, YouTube, DailyMotion and Acetrax. File playback is comprehensive (AVI, MKV, MP3, WMA etc) from USB and across a LAN. With USB timeshifting and integrated Wi-Fi thrown in, you’ve got a solid gold value proposition.
Reg Rating 85%
More info Philips
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Re: Price of energy
Sorry, but that's bollocks.
Let's say you've not bothered to shop around much and are paying a stupid rate for power like 15p per kw/h. Let's say you watch five hours of TV a day on average. Let's say you've got a 46" set like many of those on test.
Difference in annual energy bills between an ultra-efficient LCD tv pulling circa 100W and a guzzly plasma set pulling circa 200W? £28.
If your idea of "significant" is less than £30 a year then what are you doing spending nearly a grand on a telly?
wiggers the ST30 is last years model.
However it doesn't alter the fact the ST50 is probably the best TV you can buy for under a grand and Reg Hardware completely ignores it.
More details please
TV sets one important question.
What is the picture like?
I've avoid the Philips
We have a three year old Philips 37PFL.
Last weekend the power button went inside the casing
A phone call to Philips revealed that they had no interest in fixing it and, even if they did, they'd charge £120 for an uplift
having nothing to lose, we took the back off. the offending bit is a flimsy, springy plastic fork that retains the switch, causes it to bend and trigger a microswitch. It is not fit for purpose and I have to assume they think you will keep it on standby when not in use. Googling proved it to be a known design flaw
We switch the thing on, restraining the switch and put a through power switch on the power cord. That was £3
Lesson learned, don't buy Philips
I got 2 Panasonic plasmas recently :-)
Picked up a "dumb" 42" (720p) Panasonic Viera plasma for 399 quid and a "smart" 50" version (1080p) for 599 quid - John Lewis with 5 year guarantee and free Saturday delivery. Both stay in standby until I use them because you're talking around 300W each with the screen active (though both can have audio only at much lower power usage if you're listening to digital/Net radio). Both are sweet sets, though suffer from the glossy screen effect if it's a bright day.
I remain fairly unconvinced about "smart TVs" - you're better off getting a dumb one and sticking a 200 quid media centre PC (with a couple of Freeview HD or Freesat tuners), which will give you a lot more than whatever the manufacture thinks you deserve on the set's Net connection.
Mind you, Panasonic are offering Eurosport Player for free for a month on their smart TVs - now I wonder if that'll hold out until late July, so I can see their Olympics coverage in addition the BBC's? :-)