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Turning to the HD DVD release of Brotherhood of the Wolf, it became clear that the TH-42PZ700B can also do a sterling job with HD sources that aren’t quite so pristine. Although this is a great HD transfer, the original movie is somewhat grainy in the first place, so it’s never going to look as clean as The Matrix discs. That said, the level of detail resolved by this Panasonic is still very impressive. The opening fight scene in the pouring rain showed off the TH-42PZ700B’s ability to resolve every rain drop and every splash as Mani dispatches each of the renegade soldiers. And even with all the rain being so beautifully resolved, there’s no hint of detail loss, even during some of the more spectacular moves. While in more sedate scenes, the level of detail and richness of lighting and colour is spectacular. The characters’ hair looks particularly impressive, with each strand easily discernable from the next, while in cold scenes each and every piece of dialogue is accompanied by misty breath, adding to the atmosphere.
And I should point out that the presence of Monica Bellucci in both the high definition test movies was completely coincidental, honestly. She did, of course, look stunning on this TV.
High definition gaming looks no less spectacular, with Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the PS3 looking bright, vivid and visually stunning. The TH-42PZ700B lends itself beautifully to games like this with bright colours and fluid movement, but it’s not all about bright and vivid scenarios. Firing up Gears of War on the Xbox 360 showed that the black levels, as expected, are first rate on this TV. Few games are darker and more foreboding than Gears, and the TH-42PZ700B managed to render those dark environments perfectly, without any loss of detail in low light areas. In fact, once I sat down and started playing Gears, I found it almost impossible to tear myself away – this TV makes the experience so immersive!
Of course one of the toughest tests for any TV with a 1,920 x 1,080 panel is making standard definition sources look good. When you’re having to scale standard definition signals so much you better hope that your TV has a good picture processing engine. Luckily for the TH-42PZ700B, it looks like Panasonic’s V-Real Pro 2 engine is well up to the task. Even when displaying some truly awful Freeview fodder at woefully low bit-rates, the TH-42PZ700B gave a good account of itself. In fact, apart from a bit of dot crawl on particularly poor Freeview sources, it’s hard to believe that so much scaling is going on inside this TV. So, even if you predominantly watch SD content, it will still look good on this Panasonic – although it would be a crime not to watch high definition sources on a TV like this.