Although I always try to leave any preconceptions I might have about a product on the doorstep before entering the test room, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to having a pretty good up-front feeling about the 50PZ800B. After all, it's a really big screen (50in) with a Full HD resolution using Panasonic's tried, tested and generally beloved plasma technology. Surely, there can't be anything not to like about such a winning combination, right? Actually, there is. And I'll tell you all about it just as soon as I've got through the usual ‘scene setting'.
Starting with the 50PZ800B's design, it at first didn't really blow me away but strangely grew on me over time. I especially appreciate the way the screen and its bezel appear to be wrought from one single sheet of perfectly smooth glass.
The 50PZ800B is currently Panasonic's flagship 50in plasma TV (unless you add its Freesat models into the equation), and it goes about living up to this high-end status with its connections, which include a more than healthy four v1.3 HDMI sockets that can all receive Deep Colour and x.v.Colour formats. Other highlights are a digital audio output, and an SD card slot that can play both JPEG stills and AVCHD video.
You can't use the SD card slot to record from the TV yet, but we'd be amazed if this wasn't on Panasonic's roadmap for future models given the brand's interest in the SD format and enthusiasm for sticking SD slots on other product types, such as digital video recorders.
The 50PZ800B's flagship status is also evident in its video processing engine. First of all there's Panasonic's V-Real 3 system, which we've previously seen deliver some superlative results when it comes to reducing video noise, improving fine detail levels, tidying up motion reproduction, boosting colour toning and gradations, and enhancing contrast (among other things).
Then there's 100Hz Motion Picture Pro 2 for making moving objects look clearer and edges more stable during camera pans. And last but certainly not least, you get a little trick Panasonic likes to call Intelligent Frame Creation. This is Panasonic's first concerted attempt to calculate and insert extra frames of image data that take into account the speed and direction of any motion in the picture, resulting in movement which avoids the judder, resolution reduction and flicker that's otherwise an issue to some extent on all flat TVs.
Other bits and bobs of note on the 50PZ800B's feature list include a small selection of picture presets consisting of a Cinema mode, an automatic colour management system, noise reduction routines, and a Digital Cinema Colour setting. The latter apparently serves up 5,120 equivalent steps of gradation to produce a colour range Panny claims gets close to that achieved by heinously expensive commercial digital cinema installations.