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9/10

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Panasonic TH-37PX80B 37in Plasma TV - Panasonic TH-37PX80B

Yet further improvement from Panny's previous generation can be seen in the 37PX80B's motion handling. There's not a trace of plasma's once-common dotting noise over moving objects, even during a scene as fast-paced as the Free Running sequence near the start of Casino Royale on Blu-ray. And it seemed to my eyes, too, that there's noticeably less judder than before, especially during camera pans - either because of V-Real 3 or, perhaps, the 100Hz system.

Talking of 100Hz, the advantages of this can be seen in the way detailed parts of the picture no longer ‘glimmer' slightly during camera pans. And we're pleased to say that this 100Hz benefit has been accomplished without generating any unwanted side effects from the 100Hz processing engine.
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The near-perfection of Pioneer's KURO screens does highlight room for further improvement still in a couple of the 37PX80B's picture quality areas. First up, colours aren't quite as vibrant or consistently natural in tone as they might be, with skin tones sometimes displaying a marginally orange tone. And second, it doesn't scale standard definition images quite as well as Pioneer's KURO processing.

Plus it should be said that HD images don't look quite as clean and stable on this HD Ready set as they would on a good full HD set. But this is arguably inevitable, and since there are no 37in full HD plasmas to consider as an alternative, it's not a point really worth labouring. Especially given that the 37PX80B is so affordable, and that its HD pictures are still superior to those of the vast majority of HD Ready flat TVs and even full HD TVs..

Turning to the 37PX80B's sound, it again shows a marked improvement over low-end Panny plasmas of the past, with noticeably more power, slightly more dynamic range, and less of a tendency to distort when the going gets tough. There's still a tendency for the TV to overload the mid-range as a result of not having enough bass extension to separate things out more, but this only reveals itself during particularly hefty film action sequences.

Verdict

If you can take your LCD blinkers off for a minute, you'll find that the Panasonic 37PX80B is a startlingly good plasma TV for what is, in the circumstances, a crackingly competitive price.

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