We've danced around a number of relatively low-rent Panasonic TVs in recent times, generally liking them - well, the plasma ones, anyway! - but more often than not also finding ourselves pointing out that Panasonic's higher-level TVs seem to have quite a bit extra to commend them if you can stretch your finances far enough.
So today we're pretty excited to have our hands on the ultimate expression of Panasonic's high-end prowess: the TX-P46Z1.
Everything about the P46Z1 screams 'flagship'. Starting, it has to be said, with its price; £5,400 is by any stretch of the imagination a huge amount to cough up for a 46in TV, especially from a brand selling 42in plasma TVs further down its range for less than £700.
As soon as you open its box, though, the P46Z1 starts to justify its premium price. For despite being an inordinately large box, it's absolutely stuffed to bursting point with stuff. A pair of detachable speakers, a large detachable desktop stand, an external AV receiver/tuner box, the broadcasting and reception modules for a built-in wireless video transmission system and, of course, the 46in screen itself.
Much if not all of the stuff we've just found crunched into the P46Z1's box needs more explanation, with the screen component probably being the most logical place to start. For this is, at long last, one of those ultra-slim plasma screens Panasonic has been demonstrating at shows for years now, but which we'd almost given up on ever seeing in the UK. It's just 24.7mm deep for the vast majority of its body, making it far and away the slimmest plasma TV we've tested to date.
Obviously there are one or two LED TVs out there coming in even thinner, and there's a small portion of the P46Z1's rear that extends the depth to a less impressive 48.5mm. But this central section isn't visible at all unless you're stood practically behind the TV, so it doesn't really diminish from the truly impressive aesthetic punch the set's slenderness delivers.
Regular readers will know that I'm actually something of a ‘skinnysceptic' when it comes to TVs, not really understanding the obsession with making TVs a few cm thinner when I'd rather everyone was putting all their efforts into making their screens better performers. But slim TVs really do seem popular with the public at large, so even I have to acknowledge the importance of plasma technology proving that it can ‘do slim' like its arch-rival, LCD.