You might think that a good TV has to boast a resolution of 1080p. After all, adverts and tech journalists have been telling you for ages that you must have a 'Full HD' television if you don't want people to laugh at you.
The truth is that 1080p is brilliant, but far from essential. If you're looking to save money but still want an impressively large TV, why not consider a 720p panel, but go for a slightly larger screen size? Panasonic thinks people might choose to go down this route, so its 50-inch Viera TX-P50X10B plasma TV, at a price of around £900, is designed for bargain hunters who want to fill their room with television.
Despite its low cost, the TX-P50X10B is actually a very stylish-looking TV. In fact, when we got it out of the box, we thought it was a more expensive model. There is nothing about it that screams 'budget', and anyone putting one in their house is likely to be able to fool visitors into thinking it's a much more expensive TV.
There are clues to this TV's budget heritage though. For a start, the stickers that festoon the TV when you unpack it keep quiet on the display resolution. After some digging, we managed to find out that this screen has a 1,366x768-pixel resolution. You'll also notice that, at the rear, there is only a single pair of HDMI sockets, with a third on the side of the TV. Fewer HDMI inputs are a sure sign that some cost-cutting has taken place.
In terms of other connectivity, you get a pair of Scart inputs, component video in and RCA audio jacks for stereo input and output. There's no digital audio output -- another indication of cost-saving. On the side, you'll find VGA -- a more sensible position for this socket, frankly -- and analogue S-Video and composite inputs. There's also an SD card reader here, for viewing photos on your TV.
We were pleased to see that the front of the TV features a proper off switch. Apart from that, there isn't much to break up the design. The speakers are located underneath the TV, so fire downwards. That's good from a design perspective, but we usually have our doubts about the performance of such speakers.
The Panasonic remote hasn't changed significantly since the last time we reviewed one of the company's TVs. We have no complaints about the remote's style, though -- it's comfortable to hold and the buttons are laid out logically.
The TX-P50X10B is light on amazing special features. It's a good, solid TV though, and we were especially taken with the simple-to-use menu system.
Plenty of thought has been put into the process of setting up the TV for first use. As soon as you plug the TV in, you're presented with the tuning screen, which hunts around for all the analogue and digital TV channels. After you've tuned everything in -- a process that takes about 5 minutes -- the TV will ask if it's in a shop or a home. The purpose of this is to set the TV to the appropriate brightness and contrast level. We always welcome settings like this, because there's nothing worse than a TV that comes set up for a bright shop environment.