Expert Recommendation

.
Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $1200 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Expert (7 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 2, 2009 Updated: October 6, 2009
Overview

There are many options for the sports watcher and/or video game player in the sub-$1000 arena, but very few are plasmas and because of this, Panasonic’s TC-P42G10 easily takes the crown.

Best badge
My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic TC-P42G10

Panasonic’s G10 line of plasma displays are among the best in their class and indeed the best you’re going to find for less than a 1,000 clams. The plasma display means that every angle in the room is a good one and there is very little to no blurring making the G10 and excellent option for sporting events and video game sessions.

The G10 includes Panasonic’s VieraCast, which allows access to such internet items as YouTube, stock reports and headlines, and local weather. New this year is the ability to access Amazon.com’s video on-demand service.

If you’re worried about that ESPN logo or the Call of Duty HUD being burned into the screen, fear not. Burn-in on the TC-P42G10 is rare, but should it occur, Panasonic offers ways to remedy the issue. For prevention, a pixel orbiter can be set to automatically shift the image around the screen. And if burn-in does occur, the set’s scrolling bar function will likely clear it up.

Also newly available on the TC-P42G10 is THX Display certification. When engaged, this mode delivers near-perfect color accuracy (with just a couple of flaws) and black levels which CNET.com described as “Superb… with excellent shadow detail.” This coupled with the “3:2 pull-down” control and the “24p direct-in” option should please the cinema purists among you.

Wired magazine called the G10 a “plasma dazzler” and said they were blown “away with it’s stunning picture.” The G10 won’t disappoint.

Comparison with Sony KDL-40W5100

The Panasonic doesn’t suffer nearly as much from the off-angle viewing and blurring issues as the Sony does, but these issues are minimal for an LCD and you won’t find a better one in it’s class.

The Sony’s matte screen won’t reflect as much light as the Panasonic’s glass, so you may want to keep that in mind if you plan on doing a lot of day-time viewing or viewing in bright light.

Comparison with Toshiba 42ZV650U

The Panasonic knocks the pants off Toshiba’s LCD in terms of off-angle viewing but it’s highly touted “240Hz effect” gives the G10 a run for its money in combating the ever-annoying motion blur that is a boon to many a HDTV.

Pros
  • +
    Plasma
  • +
    THX Display Certification
Cons
  • -
    Color accuracy off in some respects
  • -
    Glass screen more prone to reflections
Panasonic TC-P42G10 is the Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $1200 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Where to buy
Panasonic TC-P42G10
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 42 in.
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Panasonic TC-P42G10
2
Sony KDL-40W5100
3
Toshiba 42ZV650U
Customer Rating
Price
Screen Size 42 in. 40 in. 42 in.
Display Type Plasma LCD LCD
Display Format 1080p 1080p 1080p
Display Surface Glass Matte Glossy
Anti-reflective Coating Yes N/A No
HDMI Inputs (Total) 3 4 4
Component Video Inputs (Total) 2 2 2
Ethernet Interface Yes Yes No
USB Interface No Yes Yes
Max Refresh Rate N/A 120Hz 240 Hz Effect
2
Sony KDL-40W5100

Sony’s KDL-40W5100 is a great, full-featured option for sports and gaming enthusiasts on a budget.

The LCD screen features a 120Hz refresh rate which means the picture on the screen refreshes twice as fast as the standard television and motion-blur will be minimal (if there’s any at all). However, Sony doesn’t allow the option to turn off the film-smoothing effect (aka dejuddering) when motion-blur reduction is engaged so some video sources may appear more video-like. Off-angle viewing with the W5100 is on par with other displays in it’s class, if not better.

The W5100 comes with a full suite of features including Yahoo! widgets, Netflix, and Amazon’s Video On-Demand and the set’s 4 HDMI connections and Ethernet port should allow plenty of connectivity for all of your electronics.

Comparison with Toshiba 42ZV650U

The image quality of the Toshiba is a bit lacking when compared to the Sony, but it’s 240Hz effect delivers excellent video processing and reduced blur. Regardless, the superior off-angle viewing of the Sony make it easy to recommend over the Toshiba.

Pros
  • +
    120Hz processing
  • +
    Matte screen reduces reflections
Cons
  • -
    Can't separate motion-blur and film-smoothing effects
Sony KDL-40W5100 is one of the Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $1200 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Where to buy
Sony KDL-40W5100
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 40 in.
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Toshiba 42ZV650U

Toshiba has put forth a solid contender for the avid sports viewers and gamers amongst you with the 42ZV650. In order to help combat motion-blur at a cheaper premium than it’s true 240Hz brethren, the 42ZV650U features what Toshiba calls a 240Hz effect. This means blurring will be kept to a minimum (if there’s any at all) and every play will be as life-like as possible. Also on the plus-side, blur-reduction can be enabled independently of the film-smoothing effect, so you can reap the benefits of the 240Hz effect without the image appearing more video-like (a feature the Sony is sorely lacking). To top it all off, the set features a very sleek styling that is sure to turn a few heads in your living room.

The picture quality of the ZV650U, however, is just about average and off-angle performance isn’t quite up to par with other sets in it’s class, keeping this one from the top.

Pros
  • +
    240Hz effect
  • +
    Antiblurring and dejudder effects seperable
Cons
  • -
    Glossy screen reflects light
  • -
    Sub-par picture quality
  • -
    Sub-par off-angle viewing
Toshiba 42ZV650U is one of the Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $1200 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Where to buy
Toshiba 42ZV650U
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 42 in.
More
Want More Opinions? See:

How It Works

You tell us your budget, intended uses, and desired features. We show you personalized recommendations from unbiased experts to quickly identify the best hdtv for you.

Advertisement

best camera Looking for a camera? BestInClass.com also provides expert recommendations for the best digital camera for you.