Panasonic has also addressed one of the complaints I had of last year’s series of TVs, a lack of true 1080p 24Hz support. It’s true that last year’s models would accept a 1080p 24Hz signal, but the TV then converted it to a 1080p 60Hz image before displaying it, somewhat defeating the whole purpose. Now however, Panasonic is doing it right, with the TH-46PZ80B keeping the 24fps signal squeaky clean, with the only post processing being 2:2 pulldown, creating a 48fps image, with no need for composite frames. Unfortunately, my other complaint still stands, since this TV still doesn’t support 1080p over a component connection. That means that anyone running a non-HDMI Xbox 360 won’t be able to play at the optimum resolution on this TV. Why Panasonic still refuses to offer 1080p support over component is a mystery to me, but at least as everything moves towards HDMI, it shouldn’t be a problem for too long.
While I’m on the subject of connections, this TV comes pretty well endowed. You get three HDMI 1.3 ports – two at the rear, one at the front – each supporting x.v.Colour wide gamut. On top of this you get component video for connecting analogue HD sources (but not 1080p as already mentioned), along with a D-Sub connection for hooking your PC up to the TV. You also get two SCART sockets, S-video and composite, but clearly anyone who plans on connecting anything to this TV via composite deserves to be committed. There are also analogue audio out ports, but no digital audio out, so you won’t be pumping the digital bit stream from your HDMI sources out to an external receiver or amp. Features like the digital audio pass through are reserved for the more expensive Vieras, but this TV more than makes up for this in other areas.
For one, the TH-PZ80B is definitely a looker – even before you hit the power button, this TV looks great. The combination of glossy black bezel and matte silver accent along the bottom works supremely, while the same combination is carried over onto the stand with equally successful results. And despite the fact that this is a very large TV, it pivots on its base smoothly, requiring the merest hint of pressure. A flap located below the screen hides the front mounted ports, as well as an SD card slot for viewing your digital photos directly on the big screen.