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If there’s one thing Panasonic’s latest, consistently great plasma TV range has arguably lacked so far, it’s size. For while the 37in, 42in, 46in and 50in offerings have been all well and good, we’ve always found ourselves wishing for something truly colossal to satisfy our most carnal of home cinema cravings.
Happily, today our wishes have come true. For causing our long-suffering test-benches to sag despondently in the middle as we speak is the Panasonic TH-58PZ800: a brand spanking new plasma TV measuring in – as its name suggests – at 58in. Boo and, indeed, yah.
There really is no overstating just what a difference 8in makes when you’re talking about a TV screen. For while the 50PZ800 looks quite large in your average living room, the 58PZ800 is truly gargantuan, effectively marking the jump from mere ‘TV’ to genuine home cinema centrepiece.
This is probably borne out by its price, too. For while £3000 is clearly a heck of a lot for someone to stump up for a living room TV replacement, it’s arguably an acceptable amount for something destined to find a place as the main screen in a dedicated AV installation.
The PZ800 part of today’s TV’s name signifies that the 58PZ800 sits at the very top of Panasonic’s TV tree. And as you’d hope, this means that it’s very well loaded with features indeed.
Take, for instance, its connections. There are no less than four v1.3 HDMI inputs, all equipped with Deep Colour and x.v.Colour compatibility. Plus there’s a digital audio output, and an SD card slot that can play AVCHD video as well as JPEG images.
As we noted in our review of the smaller 50PZ800, it’s a shame you can’t also record to SD cards in the 58PZ800’s slot, but who knows; maybe this will happen on next year’s range.
The 58PZ800’s screen specifications look pretty awesome too, with a Full HD pixel count being joined in imperious fashion by a claimed contrast ratio of one million to one. Yes, that’s 1,000,000:1. Admittedly, this is only possible with the screen’s dynamic brightness mode in operation, but even the screen’s native contrast ratio is 30,000:1 – enough to have grown LCD TVs crying like babies.
All this, and we haven’t even touched on the 58PZ800’s prodigious image processing technology yet. This kicks off with Panasonic’s renowned V-Real 3 system, which has consistently delivered outstanding results in terms of reducing video noise, improving fine detail levels, tidying up motion reproduction, boosting colour toning and gradations, and enhancing contrast (and plenty more besides).
Also on hand to help out is Panasonic’s 100Hz Motion Picture Pro 2, designed to make moving objects look clearer and edges more stable during camera pans. And finally there’s a little something called Intelligent Frame Creation.
This is Panasonic’s attempt at interpolating extra frames of image data that reflect the speed and direction of any motion in the ‘real’ picture, resulting in movement which should avoid the judder, resolution reduction and flicker that otherwise troubles all flat TVs to some extent.