Way back in the height of that summer we never really had, we found a rare ray of sunshine in the shape of Panasonic's TH-42PZ700: the UK's very first 42in plasma TV to sport a full HD resolution. Boy, was it good. So if you don't mind we'll ditch our usually hard-bitten, cynical persona for a moment and merrily admit to being excited as hell by the arrival of the 42PZ70: another Panasonic 42in full HD plasma TV that appears to promise essentially the same picture quality thrills but at a substantially lower price. Surely there can be nothing not to like here, right?
Before we do anything else, it's probably best to lay out clearly the things you have to sacrifice in stepping down from the all-singing, all-dancing 42PZ700 to the 42PZ70. Arguably the most significant difference is that the 42PZ70 only has two HDMIs vs the 42PZ700's three. Also, the 42PZ70 has a less powerful audio system and lacks an SD card slot for direct playback of digital pictures.
But really, so far as anything significant goes, that's it. Particularly remarkable is the fact that the set still carries the full version of Panasonic's Viera V-Real Pro image processing. This delivers such benefits as: 1080p handling and upscaling; extensive colour management; a digital optimiser that pre-emptively takes out common noise types rather than simply trying to smooth them away after they've appeared; and motion pattern noise reduction designed to reduce false contouring over fast-moving objects.
Chuck in the same ‘Real Black Drive' and Deep Black Filter technology for boosting black level response to the point where the TV can claim a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and there appears to be no reason why the 42PZ70 shouldn't achieve the same outstanding picture quality witnessed on its (£500 or so) costlier brother. And you can't really ask for more than that.
Before we set about finding out if this apparent picture equality situation really turns out to be true, we've got a few more basics to cover. Starting with the 42PZ70's design; this is definitely slightly more ‘lightweight' than that of the 42PZ700 thanks to a less robust finish and less space-hungry speaker system. This is not to say that the TV isn't still attractive, though, even if it's not in the same ‘catwalk' league as designer stars like Samsung's latest LCD and plasma range.