Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 46in Plasma TV Review - Panasonic TH-46PZ81 Review

Anyway, fascinating though all this background discussion is, it’s moved us slightly away from our focus: the Panasonic 46PZ81. So, getting back to business with its connections, the set does, of course, feature a satellite input. But crucially this is joined by a standard RF port connected to both analogue and digital Freeview tuners. The ability of the TV to handle Freeview as well as Freesat is actually quite important, as there are channels on Freeview that Freesat does not currently carry, such as Sky Sports News, E4+1 and, um, Nuts TV…

More jacks crucial to the TV’s digital tuner ambitions are a CAM slot for adding pay TV services (to the terrestrial digital tuner) such as Top Up TV; a digital audio output for piping out any Dolby Digital soundtracks that may be delivered via the Freesat channels; and an Ethernet port which will apparently come in handy for ‘future functionality’.

This functionality hasn’t been expressly laid out as yet, but as Riyad said in his preview of the TV, it’s distinctly likely that it will eventually allow you to view the BBC’s iPlayer service directly on the TV. Neat! However, the only pity with the Ethernet port is the fact that you can’t stream AV content through it from a connected PC.

That’s not to say the set doesn’t have any multimedia potential, though. For as well as a D-Sub PC port, the set carries an SD card slot for playing both JPEG stills and AVC-HD video files (likely shot on a camcorder).

Also key among the 46PZ81’s connections are three HDMIs, all built to the v1.3 specification, with full x.v. Colour and Deep Color compatibility, and the facility – along with the TV’s Real Cinema processing – to handle 1080p/24 sources with reduced judder.

Real Cinema is far from the only video processing on the TV, mind you. It’s also got 100Hz to improve image stability, and even Panasonic’s high-end Intelligent Frame Creation system. This calculates the appearance of virtual ‘intermediate’ image frames between the real ones coming in from a source, rather than merely doubling the frame rate, so that motion can look more natural and fluid, and the picture can look crisper and more stable.

Let’s not forget, either, all the other bits and bobs delivered by Panasonic’s latest V-Real 3 processing, including enhanced detailing, and oodles of noise reduction.

The Z part of the 46PZ81’s name reveals it to be a Full HD model, with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels – just the job for perfect pixel-by-pixel playback of Freesat’s key HD services: BBC HD and the recently launched ITV HD.

Other very impressive specs up the 46PZ81’s sleeve are its native contrast ratio claims of 30,000:1, and dynamic contrast ratio claims of 1,000,000:1 – figures more than big enough to cause anguished tears to pour down LCD TVs’ permanently backlit faces!

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