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Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ80 42in Plasma TV - Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ80
Turning to the 42PZ80's standard definition performance, I must confess I was a bit worried after the slightly underwhelming standard def situation found with Panasonic's 50in 50PZ800 last week. And indeed, one or two of the issues I found with that TV do exist here, too.
Black levels, for instance, strangely fail to look as profound or natural (thanks to a green undertone) as they do with HD fare, and colours look slightly less ‘real world', especially where a standard def source is of a particularly low quality.
However, I wasn't as troubled by scaling noise as I was with the 50PZ800. This may simply be a result of the smaller screen not making noise so in-your-face, or it could be that the 42PZ80's slightly simpler picture processing engine actually helps rescaled pictures look cleaner. But whatever the reason, it's a likeable and appreciated fact that means the 42PZ80's standard definition pictures still compare favourably to those of many Full HD LCD TVs.
In addition, I should point out the high quality of the 42PZ80's sound. This TV doesn't employ the truly outstanding Advanced Smart Sound system of Panasonic's PZ800 models, with their separated tweeters and woofers, but the more straightforward speakers it does carry still produce impressive volume levels and a solid dynamic range without succumbing to distortion or becoming muddied and thin.
Although there's a little room for improvement with the 42PZ80's standard definition performance, the TV still represents outstanding value for a Full HD 42in screen - especially as it's such a stunner with HD sources.