August 1, 2011
- Multimedia options
- Very good audio quality
- Quirky menus
- No built-in Wi-Fi
- Mediocre image quality
The Panasonic TC-L42D30 is 42-inch LED HDTV that has really great sound quality, but only average image quality. It's got some good multimedia features, like impressive slideshows and USB/SD card support, but the TV's menu system isn't the best out there.
The Panasonic TC-L42D30 measures 38.9 x 11.4 x 25-inches (wdh with stand) and weighs almost 42-pounds. It has a fairly slim profile with a slightly thicker "bulge" at the bottom near the stand. The stand at the bottom is a moderately sized rectangle that provides sturdy support for the TV. Around the edge of the 42-inch screen, there's a black bezel that measures about one inch and gives it an attractive design.
The menu system on the TV is well-designed in terms of readability and design, but the way it works can be a little quirky. You do get some help working through the settings because of some short descriptions, but that's pretty much it. We really noticed that the way you move between menus can be strange because the way you'd think the remote would work isn't how it really works.
On the subject of the remote, almost every button is backlit and it has a good solid grip to it. The buttons seemed well-placed, including the numbers and channel/volume controls, but the arrow selectors are too high up on the remote.
The TV has built-in ethernet but no Wi-Fi, so if you want to use wireless, you have to purchase a separate Wi-Fi adapter. Once connected, there's a nice set of Internet applications. Some of them include Netflix Instant Streaming, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Amazon, CinemaNow, various weather/sports applets and several other applications. You can also network the Panasonic TC-L42D30 with your home computers and share pictures, music and videos. This all works via DLNA and if you're running Microsoft Windows, Windows Media Player will do the job. Also, you can use both the USB and SD memory card inputs to play media files off those devices.
Once you have the media connected to the TV, either locally or over the network, it will show a listing of all the images and show thumbnails. Choosing an image will let you open it full screen or you can also show a slideshow. The slideshow actually has many settings, like transitions and music. Supported audio files are limited to only MP3 files, but video files supported include AVCHD and MPEG2 videos.
The connectivity options on the Panasonic TC-L42D30 include 4 HDMI ports (one on the side), 1 composite video, 1 component video, digital audio output, PC-input, 3 USB ports and ethernet. We really liked the 4 HDMI ports because it leaves enough room for a DVD player, cable TV box and then some.
The image quality of the Panasonic TC-L42D30 in subjective testing earned a score of average because some issues in color tones were present. Viewers noticed some problems in skin tones and in bright scenes. Some visible issues with fast-moving motion shots also showed some problems. While not horrible, the image quality could be better.
Audio quality, on the other hand, was rated as very good in subjective testing. While watching a DVD, we found the audio quality to feel almost like surround sound-quality. The audio sounded crisp and clear and with a good amount of volume to fill an average sized room.