What is the Panasonic TX-42AS520B?
This 42-inch Full HD LCD TV, which is exclusive to Currys, has one truly outstanding feature: its price. It’s currently available for just £399 – a price which would look remarkably low for even an ultra-basic 42-incher, yet this one also delivers a full Smart TV system with Freetime catch-up, as well as 100Hz processing for clearer, cleaner picture quality.
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Panasonic TX-42AS520B – Design and Features
From the front and at a typical viewing distance, the 42AS520B looks fine. Its bezel is fairly trim at just over a centimetre wide for its top, left and right edges, and the colour combination of gloss black and metallic silver works nicely. However, the black open-frame stand lets the aesthetic side down a bit, the build quality is fairly flimsy, and the rear sticks out miles versus the skinny profiles of most of today’s flat TVs.
Connectivity is pretty much what you’d expect of such a cut-price TV – which means swallowing a couple of compromises. First you only get two HDMI ports rather than the three or four that are becoming increasingly commonplace. Second, you only get one USB port for multimedia playback rather than the usual two or three.
You do, though, also have the option to stream multimedia to the TV via DLNA thanks to the 42AS520B’s built-in wired and Wi-Fi network options. Options which can additionally, of course, let you take the TV online with Panasonic’s Smart TV platform.
By adding Freetime to its TVs this year, Panasonic has instantly lifted its Smart TV offering into the A league, offering all the main catch-up TV services in the UK. Its EPG (electronic programme guide) doesn’t do it any harm, either, and it was pleasing to discover as well that Panasonic has now added Amazon Instant to its growing list of video streaming apps.
Although the My Home Screen interface Panasonic uses for its Smart features is starting to look a bit dated, it’s still commendably easy to follow and use, as well as being more customisable than any other system we’ve seen. Different members of your household can set up their own personalised ‘home pages’, containing only the content links they’re interested in. For more on Panasonic’s current Smart TV system, see our dedicated review.
The 42AS520B illuminates its pictures using an edge LED system, and there’s a dynamic contrast system on hand to improve contrast. Though not surprisingly there’s no sort of local dimming on offer.
The native resolution of the 42-inch screen is a Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels while, impressively for such a cheap TV, motion should be bolstered by a backlight blinking-driven 100Hz processing engine.
Panasonic TX-42AS520B – Setup
The 42AS520B isn’t as forgiving of dodgy picture settings as some of Panasonic’s more high-end sets, so setup is very important.
Our first bit of advice would be not to stick with any of the provided picture presets, as these all cause various problems that let the set’s picture potential down. Your best bet is to start with the Normal preset, but reduce the contrast setting to around its 80-85 level. Then turn the noise reduction systems off for HD sources or to Low for standard definition. If you don’t follow this basic advice – especially if you stick with the default Dynamic picture preset – you’ll find colours looking overblown, detail levels getting overly softened, and white areas of the picture looking rather flared out.
If you’re watching a film in a dark room, we’d also suggest that you make sure the Ambient Sensor is switched on, as this provides a fairly effective shortcut to deeper and more credible black-level response. Plus you should further nudge the backlight level down a bit from the Normal preset’s default level, even if you’re using the Ambient Light sensor, to try to remove more greyness from the screen’s dark scene reproduction.