In our review of Panasonic's 32LZD80 last week, we said we were looking forwards to getting our hands on one of the brand's new plasma TVs. Well, we didn't expect that moment to arrive quite so soon as it has. But as we place the 37in TH-37PX80B plasma model carefully onto our test benches, we're certainly not complaining.
Considering that it's relatively affordable by flat TV standards, the first thing to note about the 37PX80B is that it feels surprisingly robust and substantial - even though its bezel is actually unusually slender compared with Panasonic plasmas of the past.
It's nice to find, too, that the TV helpfully sports three HDMI inputs that can all receive the trendy 1080p/24 fps HD format currently enjoying so much popularity since it became the de facto standard for mastering films on to Blu-ray discs. Please note, though, that the HDMIs are v1.2 in nature, and so can't cope with the Deep Colour format now viewable via new JVC and Panasonic camcorders.
Other notable connections include a component video input for analogue progressive scan and HD sources, a dedicated PC input and unusually, considering the 37PX80 is actually Panasonic's new entry-level plasma, a built-in SD card slot that you can use to play digital photos directly onto the TV's screen.
One thing that does live down to expectation, given that the set resides toward the bottom of Panasonic's new range, is its native resolution. At 1,024 x 720 it's only an HD Ready model rather than a full HD one. Mind you, since no manufacturer has yet managed to fit 1,920 x 1,080 plasma cells into a screen as small as 37in, we guess it wouldn't have been fair to expect full HD on the 37PX80B even if it had been a flagship model.
The set's claimed contrast ratio is up a little from Panasonic's previous plasma range, peaking now at a figure of 15,000:1. This bodes well for a continuation of the near-legendary black level prowess that has served Panasonic so well with plasma technology over the years. That said, we should add that the 15,000:1 figure pales rather when compared to the one million to one figure being bandied around for Panasonic's flagship PZ85 plasma range, due to launch in the not too distant future.