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Yeah, yeah, I know: yet another bloody Panasonic TV. But actually, I'm not in the least bit apologetic. For it's hardly my fault if Panasonic has such a huge range of screens coming out this year for us to cover. And nor is my fault if Panasonic is more proactive than any other brand when it comes to providing us with test samples. What's more, today's Panny model, the TX-P46G10, is anything but ‘just another plasma TV'. For it's the first model we've seen that employs Panasonic's new NeoPDP technology.
NeoPDP screens are claimed to be the results of Panasonic going ‘back to the drawing board' in search of ways to significantly boost the performance of its plasma panels, with particular focus on its IC and panel structure technologies. And they include new phosphors and cell designs to boost the efficiency of each plasma chamber's discharge cycle, as well as new circuit and drive technologies to reduce by a staggering 50 per cent the amount of power needed to produce their pictures.
Panasonic has actually used this huge improvement in power efficiency to provide the option of achieving the same brightness levels as you get with last year's plasma screens while using far less power, or else using the same power used on last year's screens to produce far brighter images.
The fact that the NeoPDP panels are more energy-efficient than their ancestors will inevitably prove helpful in countering LCD's ‘plasma isn't green' mantra. But you know, much as I love our green and pleasant planet, I have to selfishly admit that I'm really more keen on the other benefit that Panasonic's NeoPDP panel should bring: improved picture quality. Or more specifically, improved motion performance thanks to a faster (0.001ms!) response time, better colour reproduction, and last but not least, enhanced contrast.
Regarding this latter potential improvement, Panasonic has actually stuck the ‘infinity' symbol on the TV's marketing blurb to describe its contrast talents. Admittedly underneath this symbol are the words ‘over 2,000,000:1' by way of qualification. But the bottom line is that the P46G10 should be serving up the single greatest contrast performance of any Panasonic plasma to date. In fact, it could even deliver black levels to better any rival TVs from any brand, including Pioneer's legendary KURO models.
You might think that all this fancy NeoPDP stuff would be innovation enough for the P46G10, but no. For the set is also Panasonic's first TV with 600Hz Sub-Field Drive Intelligent Frame Creation Pro technology. The show-stopping 600Hz figure included within that mouthful of a feature certainly sounds very impressive when you consider that Sony's only just cracked 200Hz with its much-vaunted Z4500 LCD TVs. But as we discussed when talking about a similar 600Hz claim recently made by LG's 50PS8000 plasma TV, the P46G10's 600Hz figure is actually derived not by increasing the refresh rate to12 times the usual 50Hz level, but by including in the frame rate calculation new image frames - or sub-fields - calculated by the TV to contain the necessary picture information to ‘fill in the gaps' between the real 50Hz frames obtained from a source.