Since TV screens started to slim down, the demand for larger screen sizes has grown. Space-saving designs mean that even smaller rooms can accommodate a large screen without being overwhelmed. With manufacturers producing TVs in ever-increasing sizes and prices becoming more affordable, there's never been a better time to take a look at the bigger picture.
Anything above 42 inches was once reserved for plasma, but improved technology has seen LCDs invade the large-screen domain. Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses -- plasma offers better contrast, more cohesive movement and more natural colours, while LCDs produce brighter images that bring out more detail and have more engaging colours. It all comes down to personal choice, but we've collected four 42-inch models from competing technologies to help grease your decision-making gears.
Toshiba's 42WLT66 is an affordable LCD model that features 'Full HD' compatibility, integrated Freeview and dual HDMI connectivity. If you're into high definition then the full 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution means you can play 1080i signals in their entirety without any downscaling. Two HDMI inputs allow you to connect two high-definition sources simultaneously. Picture performance is superb with high definition but standard definition isn't as impressive.
If you can afford to spend more, then Philips' 42PF8931D is the class-leading LCD in this size. Not only do you get a well-balanced specification featuring advanced processing, but the jaw-dropping design using Ambilight Surround technology is guaranteed to turn heads. Even with a normal HD Ready 1,366x768-pixel resolution, we've never seen high-definition images so clean, smooth and detailed -- which makes the expensive price tag easier to ignore.
Samsung's PS42Q7 offers excellent value for money with fewer compromises than you would expect from a plasma priced around £1,000. Not many budget models offer such a striking design integrated with high-end features, such as high-definition compatibility and a digital tuner. Connectivity is comparatively restricted by single input options and performance doesn't scale class-leading heights, but it's still an absolute steal.
Panasonic's slightly more expensive TH42PX60 is one of the finest plasma models to come from the market-leading Viera range. It's a screen that has it all, including an attractive design, state-of-the-art specification with complete connectivity and user-friendly functionality. Superb black levels offer images with outstanding contrast and detail, while perfectly balanced colours and natural movement provide more realism than LCDs can muster.