But it’s the pictures that the TH-46PZ80B produces that really matter, and here Panasonic has done a brilliant job. Considering the price of this TV, you really have no right expecting this much screen size, coupled with picture quality this good. As with all large HD screens, you really need a good source to show it off to its best ability, and luckily Panasonic launched its new Blu-ray player last week, the DMP-BD50 (full review coming soon). Sliding the Mission Impossible III disc into the BD50, I jumped straight to the night time assault on the Berlin factory. Not only is this scene a great action set piece, but the dark location makes it a real test for TVs when it comes to black level response. The TH-46PZ80B didn’t just manage to recreate the dark and dank location, but once the action kicked off, the muzzle flashes and explosions were delivered with supremely convincing realism. This TV does just as well at the other end of the contrast spectrum, with the attack on the bridge, later in the film proving to be just as convincing. This time the Panasonic had to deal with bright, almost washed out sunlight, while still resolving detail – again, the TH-46PZ80B handled its task with aplomb.
But it’s not just action scenes where this TV proves its credentials. Skin tones are also amazingly realistic, especially during close-ups, where beads of sweat and even skin pores are clearly visible. If you’re not a fan of Tom Cruise’s cheesy grin, you’ll probably want to look away on occasion, but the level of detail on offer when he’s tied up and questioned is staggering – every bead of sweat, every tear and every drop of blood are crystal clear.
Things are no less impressive when it comes to high definition gaming either. Firing up Hideo Kojima’s latest masterpiece, Metal Gear Solid 4 on the PS3, resulted in one of the most immersive gaming environments I’ve experienced in some time. Navigating Snake through a baked and bleached, war torn Middle Eastern cityscape is a vision to behold. The phrase “interactive movie” is an over-used one, but playing MGS4 on this TV really does feel like you’re playing a movie. Given, much of the effect is down to Kojima’s expert direction, but having a TV this good to play it on certainly helps.