Panasonic remains as committed to plasma as ever and continues to create some fantastic TVs. The £800 Viera TH-42PX70 uses its tenth-generation panel, and it certainly seems as though Panasonic is learning with each new iteration.
It's probably fair to say most people don't consider technology to be the pinnacle of artistic beauty and modern art. While the Turner prize is unlikely to be awarded to a TV in the near future -- although we wouldn't rule it out completely -- at least Panasonic has made an effort to make its TVs aesthetically pleasing.
The TV has a glossy black surround to the screen. It's not as reflective as some of the piano-black bezels we've seen, but it looks all the better for that. Underneath the screen is a cunningly disguised speaker strip, which is barely noticeable unless you go looking for it.
For all the handsome styling, the TH-42PX70 is an imposing piece of kit. The size of it is both impressive and, when you are trying to lift it up, daunting. The TV itself isn't especially heavy on its own, but once you screw it on to the supporting pedestal it becomes much heavier -- we're pleased to see there are also options for a cabinet stand and a wall-mount bracket.
At the back, there are the usual inputs: a pair of HDMI sockets for your hi-def equipment, a pair of Scart sockets for all your older gear and component in for consoles. There's also a PC input, which rounds off a decent selection of connections, although we would like to see three HDMI sockets on a high-end TV such as this.
The Panasonic TH-42PX70 may not be a 1080p screen, but it is capable of downscaling 1080p images. It has an RGB PC input, although we'd suggest the usual caution when using a static input on a plasma, as the risk of damage and burnt images is reasonably high -- you wouldn't want to see the Windows taskbar for evermore. Nevertheless it's good to see a PC input here for use with media centres and games consoles such as the Xbox 360.
We can't help but think that Panasonic has spent some time re-thinking its menu systems recently. The setup of the TH-42PX70 was a dream. Scanning for both analogue and digital channels was quick and simple. We also found the menus on the TV generally were simpler to use, needing fewer button presses.