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Its Wide Colour Gamut technology raises the set's colour game to a level way beyond anything seen on previous king-sized Panasonic plasmas. Skin tones generally look totally believable during No Country For Old Men, with hardly any trace of either plasma's old colour striping or orangey undertone issues. Rich reds largely avoid the orange toning problem, too, and the 65PZ800's portrayal of background walls and shiny objects is a revelation, as immaculate colour tone shifts give such material a terrific sense of solidity.
After witnessing so much HD quality, it was with some trepidation that I turned to a few standard definition sources. After all, a 65in screen is always going to be fairly merciless at revealing standard def inadequacies.
But actually, provided your standard definition source is of at least a decent quality, the 65PZ800's video processors handle it remarkably well. The Sky News studio, for instance, looks much sharper and less noise-ridden than we'd expect, while good quality DVDs sometimes looked good enough to fool people who've never watched a Blu-ray into thinking they're actually watching HD.
It's only with the very grubbiest sources - The Crime and Investigation Channel, Dave and so on - that the 65PZ800 falls down. With these ropey efforts pictures can be left looking soft and fuzzy, as the TV's processing just can't quite get a handle on what it needs to do where.
It's really tough to come up with anything seriously negative to say about the 65PZ800, though. If pushed I might point out that the screen struggles to show a really convincing peak white, tending to look a touch yellowy when it tries - at least when you've got the picture settings optimised for video playback.
Also, I'd recommend using the Intelligent Frame Creation system sparingly, for it can cause edges to flicker and shimmer a little during action scenes or sporting events. In fact, I personally left it turned off all the time, as the TV's pictures didn't really seem to need its help anyway. Finally one or two skin tones look fractionally patchy - but these moments are very rare.
Hopes that I might be able to retrieve some sort of cynical critical credibility with the 65PZ800's audio, meanwhile, are sadly dashed after just a few seconds of the beach landings sequence of Saving Private Ryan. For in fact the Smart Sound Speakers deliver a dynamic range and size of soundstage that wouldn't sound out of place on a decent separates system. Certainly they do more than enough to provide a suitably grandiose accompaniment to the vast and wonderful pictures.
As you can probably tell by now, I've pretty much fallen for the 65PZ800 hook, line and sinker. It delivers a performance only a little less vibrant and tonally precise than that of Pioneer's PDP-LX6090, while also being 5in bigger and not far off a grand cheaper once you've taken speakers into account.
I'm not saying it's better than the Pioneer. But it gets startlingly close while costing less than I'd thought possible, and you can't say fairer than that. Now where did I put that Deep Heat?
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