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Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ80 42in Plasma TV - Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ80
Starting with Coen Brothers classic Raising Arizona, recorded in HD from Sky a week or two back, the 42PZ80 puts barely a foot wrong.
For instance, the set's Full HD resolution is spectacularly evident in both the extreme amount of fine detail visible in the picture, and the pretty much total absence of any of the video noise types - grain, softness, colour leakage/striping etc - that can occur with screens that have to ‘rescale' 1,920 x 1,080 sources like the Raising Arizona broadcast to a lower native resolution.
Inevitably, given the Panasonic branding, the 42PZ80 also excels in the black level department. As H.I. leaves the scene of one of his convenience store raids at night during Raising Arizona's lengthy prologue, the night sky behind him looks absolutely pitch black, with no sign whatever of the grey cloudiness we still associate with flat TV technologies - especially LCD-based ones.
The tone of the blackness is commendable too, since there's only the tiniest trace of the blue or green undertoning that can affect many flat TVs, including plasma ones.
Turning next to the 42PZ80's colours, they enjoy a delicacy and authenticity of tone with our HD Raising Arizona source that's a pleasure to behold - provided, at least, you use the Cinema picture preset rather than the monstrous ‘Dynamic' default. The cartoonish richness of H.I.'s Hawaiian shirts looks terrifically vibrant, but the deliberately dated and bland look of the Arizona family's home décor and ‘unpainted' furnishings is also rendered perfectly, along with the film's various, always very naturally lit skin tones.
Some may feel that the 42PZ80's colours aren't quite as aggressive as those of many LCD TVs, especially when playing console games from a PS3 or Xbox 360. But the reality is that what they perhaps lack in vigour they more than make up for in subtlety.
Really, the only negative point I could spot during our HD tests was some judder and blur during rapid camera pans, making me wish the 42PZ80 had the Intelligent Frame Creation processing found on the PZ85 sets further up Panasonic's current range.