The two most potentially significant advances of the 37PX80B in picture terms over its 37PX70 predecessor are the step up from V-Real 2 to V-Real 3 image processing, and the unexpected inclusion of 100Hz.
When it comes to V-Real 3, refinements have been made in particular to the image engine’s noise handling, colour toning and motion control. And as you’d anticipate, the 100Hz system is included to reduce the potential for image flicker that some people’s eyes seem preternaturally determined to spot.
It has to be said that aside from these two key features, the 37PX80B isn’t exactly over-burdened with other adjustments. Really the only three of note in the TV’s menus are a noise reduction circuit, a colour management system, and the facility to remove all overscanning from the picture you’re watching if doing so doesn’t produce unpleasant noise around the picture’s outside edges.
With little else to detain us, then, we might as well dive straight into the 37PX80B’s picture quality to see if Panny’s new plasmas will prove slightly more successful than its first new LCD model.
For the most part, the 37PX80B’s picture quality is every bit as outstanding as we’ve come to expect from Panasonic’s plasma division. Leading the procession of good points, predictably, is the set’s black level response, which probably comes in second only to those of Pioneer’s KURO TVs in terms of sheer depth and the amount of low-level shadow detailing the set manages to cling onto.
Indeed, the black level response seems slightly deeper and black colours slightly more natural than on last year’s 37PX70, showing that Panasonic is still managing to eke out a little bit more from an area of picture quality that it’s always been exceptionally good at.
Another more defined leap ahead from Panny’s previous generation can be seen in the 37PX80B’s sharpness, which does as much justice to the extraordinary clarity of last weekend’s stunning world HD premiere of ”Zulu” on Sky HD as you could ever expect from an HD Ready (as opposed to a full HD) TV. Clearly the new V-Real 3 processing engine has achieved some particularly noteworthy improvements in the detail resolution department.
V-Real 3’s strengths can also be seen in the 37PX80B’s unusually accomplished standard definition performance, as PAL sources are scaled up to the screen’s HD Ready resolution with relatively little MPEG noise.