I first saw this TV at the Consumer Electronics Show back in January and I’ve been hassling Panasonic about getting a review sample ever since. You see, the TH-42PZ700B represents a landmark in the plasma high definition TV arena, and it strikes a hefty blow for plasma technology in the face of better and better specified LCD competition. What makes this plasma TV so special? It’s the World’s first 42in 1080p plasma screen – something that Panasonic’s engineers should be very proud of.
If you’re wondering why I’m so impressed with a 42in plasma screen sporting a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, let me explain. With an LCD screen, raising the native resolution is a relatively easy operation, it’s just a case of adding more pixels to a piece of glass and reducing the pixel pitch. Because LCD is a transmissive technology, the only thing that each pixel has to do is twist – twist one way to let light through, twist the other way to block light out. Things are very different with a plasma screen though, since plasma is an emissive technology, meaning that each pixel emits light. This means that each and every pixel is actually a tiny plasma chamber and therefore resolution is limited to how small those plasma chambers are.
For a long time if you wanted a Full HD plasma screen, you needed to have a seriously big house, since squeezing 1,920 x 1,080 plasma chambers in, resulted in screen sizes of 60in and above. The problem with reducing the size of the plasma chambers is that the brightness level also ended up being reduced, thus negating one of plasma’s advantages over LCD. However, Panasonic has clearly put a huge amount of R&D behind its plasma chamber design, because not only has it managed to squeeze 1,920 x 1,200 pixels into a 42in screen, but the brightness doesn’t appear to have suffered as a result.
Like the Panasonic TH-37PX70 that I reviewed back in May, the TH-42PZ700B is adorned with a piano black finish, rather than the matt silver of last year’s Panasonic TVs. There’s no denying that this TV looks good, and even the side mounted speakers are fairly unobtrusive due to the overall black finish. Like most Panasonic TVs, you can purchase the TH-42PZ700B as a wall mountable unit, with a two shelf cabinet or with a pedestal stand, as seen here. The stand hasn’t changed much over previous generations, but that’s no bad thing – it offers a very solid base and smooth panning. The black fascia is broken only by a rather discreet Panasonic logo below the screen, and a small Viera logo at the top left.