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Panasonic Viera TH-58PZ800 58in Plasma TV - Panasonic Viera TH-58PZ800
We’ve saved arguably the single greatest strength of the 58PZ800’s pictures to last, though: their black level response. For years Panasonic’s Real Black Drive technology set the benchmark on black level in the flat TV world, and while it might recently have been usurped from its throne by Pioneer’s KURO technology, it still delivers here some truly stunningly black levels that not surprisingly are particularly welcome when watching 30 Days of Night (the clue’s in the title, yeah?).
It would be a crying shame if the prodigious size and quality of the 58PZ800’s pictures weren’t joined by equally potent sonics. So we’re chuffed to report that the ‘V-Audio Surround’ system the PZ800 TVs employ, with its combination of digital amplification, carbon speakers, SRS TruSurround XT and BBE VIVA HD3D audio processing, works extremely well, reproducing even the occasionally extreme dynamics of 30 Days Of Night’s powerful mix with authority, clarity and real dynamism.
With all but the lowest quality digital sources upscaling to the 58P800’s huge Full HD panel more cleanly than we’d have dreamt possible, we’re running out of areas where we might be able to criticise the 58PZ800. But if we really try (!), we guess that although brighter than any big-screen plasma we’ve seen before (besides, possibly, Pioneer’s PDP-LX608), big LCD screens do still tend to look brighter.
Really good quality LCD screens can also deliver a slightly more emphatic sense of sharpness with HD material, notwithstanding LCD’s usual tendency to soften up when things get moving.
And finally, as we hinted earlier, we’d recommend that you deactivate the 58PZ800’s Intelligent Frame Creation while watching sport, as its failure to keep pace with really fast motion can cause flickering and smearing artefacts. Or even, in the case of the Ryder Cup coverage, the appearance of ‘ghost’ balls that make it look as if the players are cheating by trying to hit three balls at once!
Don’t let the fact that we finished the main review on a jokey negative put you off the 50PZ800. Provided you use a little common sense with elements of its image processing, it can deliver truly stunning pictures and sound that at times, even threaten to give Pioneer’s KURO screens a run for their money.