..it buzzes! It's not normally audible but during quiet passages it can be heard as can a faint whirring sound that probably comes from a fan & not the HDD I've attached. Many people have mentioned how poor the sound (that you should be able to hear) is. I suggest anyone spending this sort of money on a TV should be connecting it up to a proper stereo or surround system & permanently turning down the internal speakers! To my ears, all TV's speakers sound awful. TV's that have such stunning picture quality should be considered as part of a Home Cinema system - with equally good sound, even if your room doesn't allow you to place a TV between the speakers.
This set is a little outdated regarding its looks; the bezel is very wide at 40mm & has a black plastic housing for sensors & LEDs underneath the bottom edge. This is fine when the set is mounted on its oval pedestal but looks odd when this set is wall mounted. The bezel is a brushed gunmetal colour that looks smart enough. The remote control is too large for my tastes, silver in colour but has a 2nd transmitting LED facing down at 45° that's very useful if you have laptop in front of you that would otherwise get in the way!
This remote will also control my Panasonic Blu Ray player (BDT110) for most of its common functions via VIERA Link through a HDMI cable. The bottom section of this remote can be set to control my aging Panasonic SuperVHS recorder. This TV can set this recorder via a SCART for timer recordings by using the TV's tuners rather than its own one. The better quality option is to connect a compatible USB hard disc drive that can store 15 events from its 8 day EPG, instant record the current program with a preset duration of 30' to 180' in 30' intervals. These recordings cannot be played back on even identical models & you cannot watch another channel whilst recording, despite this set having Freeview, analogue & Freesat tuners built-in.
As well as having a Ethernet socket, a USB WiFi dongle & USB extension lead is supplied. I set it up to update the firmware easily enough then connected the same dongle to my BR player to update that as well. This set does have ring-fenced internet access that includes Twitter, YouTube, Picasa Web Albums, Bloomberg, Skype (if you purchase the remote camera/microphone module), acetrax (MoD) CineTrailer etc. As you can set the USB keyboard language, the penny will drop some time in the future to not only include a web browser that can be used with a wireless mouse & keyboard but have an interface (that you can actually read from your armchair) to access all you stored music & videos! But not yet. If you can take the buzzing sound, this set can be used as a stereo radio tuner that blanks the screen until you change channels. This set does have a SPDIF optical output rather than the better quality coaxial variety. As for other connectivity, there are 3 HDMI sockets on the rear, one on the left side, 2 SCARTs, Comp Video in, phono L/R sockets for audio in & out, analogue video in from a PC & a Common Interface slot for PayTV modules. I bought a 5m flat HDMI cable to connect my laptop - it just worked. This set works with the older Q Link through the SCART lead to control such devices such as my VHS VCR. If the TV is in standby, opening the drawer on the BR player will also wake up the TV.
Being a photographer, I was eager to view some of my images using the SD card socket. You can set background music to accompany your slide shows with options to fade between images. The quality was the best I've seen many of my photos on a screen - they look much better than on an LCD screen, even a good one. Although I set my sights on a plasma TV, I did look carefully at some LED lit LCD models. LCDs have come a long way in the last couple of years. If you watch them on axis, the can look superficially better than plasmas but still show too many artefacts around edges & unreal colours. If you watch TV by yourself head-on, an LCD is a viable option. If other people watch off-axis then nothing beats a top flight plasma screen such as this one! Off-axis, blacks stay BLACK. Non-HD picture quality really depends on the source quality though doesn't look too horrid unless you are only a few feet away where you really wish that all transmissions where HD! HD on either Freeview or Freesat can look slightly better than upsampled DVD. Many people have said that upsampled DVDs look as good as Blu Ray. DVDs do look very good indeed but Blu Ray discs can look utterly amazing. Movement is smooth with little juddering. Another aspect of plasma over LCD screen is that colours tend to look far more natural. The sound quality from the audio out phonos is very good if not CD quality. Watching films with decent stereo sound on this set is very satisfying indeed!
There are some quirks. If you want to reorder Freesat stations, I could not find a way of doing so without setting "Other Sat" to autoscan then those channels could be ordered as required. However doing so does mean no EPG! This set is generally pretty free of image artefacts but I did not an odd effect when watching an episode of Midsomer Murders where 2 character ran across the screen. I noticed some artefacts behind their heads. This oddity may have been broadcast of course.
This set has a slightly better screen than the "G" version. It also has much greater control over each of the 3 colour channels such as Gain, Cutoff & also Gamma. I use the "Normal" picture profile with the saturation turned down a few notches. Other options include, Cinema, Dynamic & THX. Each of these can have the more common parameters adjusted including CATS that adjusts the picture according to ambient light levels. I haven't quite made up my mind if CATS works well enough or not yet.
My armchair is about nearly 4m away from this set, I'm glad I didn't go for a bigger screen than 42"! Although my photos, DVDs, BR discs & HD content can stand closer scrutiny, standard Freeview or Freesat channels can't!
This set does a fair job of selecting the correct aspect ratio but I do need to select the correct one manually more often than I should though it's odd watching an old film or program in 4:3 to then see adverts spring back to full-screen! The density of the side bars can be adjusted through light grey to black. Other functions include an adjustable off timer, Picture in Picture (that I couldn't get to work) power saving, standby modes, dlna connectivity, direct control from the bottom buttons on the remote of different typres of Panasonic devices & DIVX VoD. I didn't play with the Media Server option at all.
This set is a 2010 model. All the new 2011 top-end models are now 3D. I've heard that in order to show 3D, such sets have to be even better which translates into better 2D - if like me, you are not in the slightest bit interested in 3D, this model is going to be half the price of the newer P42VT30B therefore a bargain! If you wall-mount this set yourself, be aware that not getting a "professional" to do so can invalidate the guarantee!