The arrival of any Panasonic TV in our labs is generally a cause of some excitement these days. But it’s fair to say that the weight of expectation on the shoulders of the 46in TH-46PZ85 is particularly heavy. Partly because it comes hot on the heels of the truly grandiose Panasonic 58PZ800, and partly because it arrives as the proud winner of the ‘Best Value Plasma TV 2008-2009’ award from the European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA).
In case you’re not aware of it, EISA is a group of Europe’s top journalists (minus, outrageously, my good self – sniff) that meets annually to try and identify the Great and the Good from the whole gamut of AV products washing across our continent. So we should be able to feel pretty confident that the 46PZ85’s victory was certainly not just a case of someone shutting their eyes and pushing a pin into the ‘products for consideration’ list!
The 46PZ85 did not win any awards for its design, though. And it’s not hard to see why. Its remarkably wide bezel and same-old, same-old gloss black colour scheme just doesn’t make a splash in style terms – even though there’s a little arc of silver jutting out along the bottom. On the evidence of the 46PZ85, we’d say Panasonic’s ultra cool looking ultra-thin plasma models can’t arrive soon enough.
As we’d expect of what’s reckoned to be a ‘budget’ plasma, the 46PZ85’s connections include three HDMIs rather than the ideal four, though these are all built to the V1.3 specification and offer Deep Colour compatibility. They’re joined, too, by the customary component video and PC inputs, and an SD card slot for playback of JPEGs. Plus, of course, there are all those other TV connection staples you used to find back in the days of CRT TVs. Remember those?
At this point, it’s probably worth reflecting on the fact that despite winning a Value award from EISA, the 46PZ85 isn’t astonishingly cheap by 46in TV standards. Only yesterday, in fact, we were looking at a 46in TV from Sharp that could be found for as little as £900 – not far off £300 cheaper than this Panasonic.
But we guess the justification for the Value award comes from the fact that in terms of specification and features, the 46PZ85 actually comes across like a premium TV, not a budget one.
It carries, for instance, a Full HD pixel count, and delivers a truly enormous claimed contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. But probably its most striking attribute is its video processing. For it carries not only Panasonic’s top-line V-Real 3 Pro image engine, but also the brand’s so-called Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) system.