So are the 50PX70’s pictures as good as those of the 37PX70? No. They’re better. For really it’s only at the 50in sort of size that you can fully appreciate just how talented Panasonic’s picture processing and plasma techniques really are.
Take black levels, for example. Dark scenes such as the Berlin factory assault on the Mission: Impossible III HD DVD suffer practically none of the greyness seen with so many flat TVs, giving you a superb sense of the scale of the action and simply making such scenes look terrifically engaging and cinematic. And this cinematic sensation is made all the stronger thanks to the sheer size of the screen.
The size advantage is even more apparent with the screen’s sharpness and detailing. Exceptionally detailed shots such as those in the jungles of Skull Island on the King Kong HD DVD are rendered with total precision by the 50PX70, as it picks out every leaf, and every hair on Kong’s body. What’s more, it does this without a trace of video noise.
Having seen a glut of LCD TVs recently, we also appreciate the simplicity and clarity of the 50PX70’s motion handling, which sees moving objects retaining the majority of their resolution without any heavy processing side effects. Also, there’s practically no sign of the dithering noise over skin tones during camera pans that can perturb lesser plasma TVs.
In most ways the 50PX70 also excels with colours, as they’re likeably vibrant, rendered with unusual subtlety, and generally pretty natural in tone. The only quibble we might raise is that occasionally particularly rich reds can turn slightly orange.
Other than this point, the only real negatives to report are occasional juddering with camera pans, and the fact that while the 50PX70 can take in and show the pure 1080p/24fps format most HD movies are encoded to disc in, for some reason the pictures appear minus the accompanying audio.
Panasonic’s 50PX70 provides the finest expression yet of the brand’s undeniable plasma qualities. In this instance, bigger really is better.
And we still haven’t touched on arguably the single most remarkable thing about the set: its price. For while Panasonic could very likely have charged a healthy premium for the 50PX70 and still sold plenty, it can actually be had for only just over a grand. Which in our humble opinion makes it one of the biggest AV bargains of this or any other year.