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Panasonic Viera TH-42PZ85 42in Plasma TV
We've already looked at - and very much enjoyed - two of Panasonic's 42in Full HD plasma TVs, the TH-42PZ80 and TH-42PZ800. But that's not the end of Panny's Full HD 42in story, for there's one further model tucked in between: the TH-42PZ85.
Probably the best place to start an assessment of the 42PZ85 is by pin-pointing just what features it has to make it the ‘middle' option in Panny's Full HD 42in triumvirate.
In terms of picture processing, it has the Intelligent Frame Creation system (for adding extra frames of image data to make motion more fluid) found on the top-end 42PZ800 but absent from the 42PZ80. However, it does not have the Digital Cinema Colour processing system of the 42PZ800, and so shouldn't be able to deliver quite such an expansive colour palette.
When it comes to connections, the 42PZ85's HDMIs number three, as with the 42PZ80, rather than the four of the 42PZ800. And while it also includes an SD card slot like the 42PZ800, this slot can only play back JPEG pictures, as is the case with the 42PZ80, whereas the SD slot on the 42PZ800 can also play AVCHD movies.
The 42PZ85 also leans towards its cheaper sibling when it comes to audio, since its speakers are two straightforward full-range 160 x 42mm affairs rather than the ‘Advanced Smart Sound' speakers employed by the 42PZ800, which separate out their tweeters and woofers to deliver greater clarity and power handling.
Intriguingly the 42PZ85 differs quite substantially in design from its brethren, trading the usual ‘horizontal arch' design for a straighter-edged silver highlight along the bottom, and a much more slender profile that finds the TV just 79mm deep across most of its rear versus more than 100mm with the previous Panny models.
That, I think (hope!), covers all the really important differences, and puts the 42PZ85 in its proper perspective. Just to cement the positioning in your minds, let's also put some prices on things too. At the time of writing, the best prices we could find put the 42PZ80 at around £760, the 42PZ85 at around £879, and the 42PZ800 at around £1,175. So you can figure out exactly what your extra money gets you as you step up the range. For the record, the Panasonic 42PX80, with its non-Full HD resolution and reduced contrast performance, can now be had for as little as £500.
Anyway, getting back to the matter in hand, the 42PZ85 shares pretty much the same operating system as its Full HD siblings. Which is good news considering that this operating system, with its superb remote and effortless onscreen menus, is just about as idiot proof as it gets. Handy features tucked away within the onscreen menus include a noise reduction routine, an automatic colour management tool, and a pseudo surround stage with the option to state the distance between the speakers and your wall.