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Other noteworthy bits and bobs on the 58PZ800’s feature list are a small selection of picture presets that include a Cinema mode, an automatic colour management system, noise reduction routines, and a Digital Cinema Colour setting that produces 5120 equivalent steps of gradation, resulting in a colour range reckoned to compare with that of commercial digital cinema installations. Nice.
The question as we settle down to watch the 58PZ800 has to be whether its extra size merely reinforces Panasonic’s image prowess, or reveals hitherto unspotted weaknesses.
Happily, it doesn’t take much time at all in the company of a few Blu-rays, HD games and, tellingly, standard def broadcasts to see that the 58PZ800 definitely reinforces Panasonic’s standing in the flat TV world.
Unable to resist, we went straight for the HD jugular with a combination of Sky’s awesome-looking HD Ryder Cup golf coverage, the tasty-looking Blu-ray of 30 Days Of Night, and the slice of cutesy graphical genius known as Viva Pinata 2 on the Xbox 360. And with every single one of these sources the 58PZ800’s pictures were nothing short of sublime.
Particularly impressive given how difficult they are to achieve on really big plasma screens were the naturalism of the 58PZ800’s colour tones and its general brightness levels.
Regarding the former, there’s practically no sign of the traditional tendency for green tones to dominate, especially during dark scenes. Rich green footage such as the fairways of the Ryder Cup’s Valhalla golf course look extremely believable rather than slightly radioactive, while reds don’t look nearly as orange in tone as we might have anticipated based on Panasonic’s history in this department.
It’s worth adding here, too, that colours continue to look very natural even if you watch them from quite a wide angle, with none of the desaturation problems so common in the LCD world.
As for brightness, the image explodes off the screen with much more vigour and intensity than any truly king-sized Panasonic TV before, narrowing the traditional gap in this area between plasma and its naturally brighter LCD rival.
The next hugely impressive thing about the 58PZ800’s HD pictures is their combination of impressive sharpness with practically no video noise whatsoever. This latter noise-suppression achievement is particularly remarkable, for if anything even slightly nasty was sneaking through the 58PZ800’s image processing ‘firewall’, it would become acutely visible on a screen as big as 58in.
Yet more good news finds the 58PZ800 handling motion very well, with minimal blurring of moving objects compared with what you’d expect to see on a typical LCD-based rival. What’s more, there’s only the very rarest trace of that old plasma problem of fizzing noise over skin tones during camera pans.
It’s worth mentioning the Intelligent Frame Creation functionality here, too, for while we have our doubts about it with sports footage (more on this in a moment), with your average TV show or film it can increase the image’s sharpness and fluidity very impressively indeed.