Wrapping up what’s basically a pretty wondrous performance with our ”Sweeney Todd” Blu-ray is the exceptional lack of video noise of any sort, and the extremely clear appearance of its moving objects, as the Intelligent Frame Creation system does a terrific job of smoothing and sharpening away the usual judder and blur. What’s more, IFC does this while leaving behind only minimal evidence of negative side effects like shimmering around the edges of moving objects.
That said, I’d urge you not to leave the IFC feature active for everything you watch. For while it works brilliantly with a 1080p/24fps movie feed, if I left it running while watching a sporting event it sometimes caused balls to ‘glitch’ quite alarmingly as they hurtled across the turf, seemingly creating three balls where there should only be one.
While irritating to the extent that you have to adjust a solitary picture setting when going from sport to other types of viewing, though, the ‘multiball’ phenomenon is perfectly avoidable. So this is not the disappointment I hinted at in the opening paragraph.
That ‘honour’, I’m afraid, lies with the TV’s standard definition performance. For starters, I couldn’t help but notice how colours look far less natural with standard def feeds. Skin tones tend to take on a decidedly orangey hue, reds lose a touch of their intensity, and worst of all dark parts of the picture, particularly with digital broadcasts, start to take on a noticeable green undertone.
Standard definition pictures don’t translate to the screen’s Full HD pixel count particularly well in terms of noise and sharpness levels, either. You’re OK if the standard def source is of a reasonably high quality, such as a DVD or one of the better quality digital TV channels. But with a low-grade channel, such as ITV, the image can look really rather rough in places.
Happily, the 50PZ800B gets back on track in spectacular fashion with its sound. As with previous Panasonic flagships, the 50PZ800B delineates itself from sets lower in the Panasonic range by employing a ‘Smart Sound’ system with separated out tweeters and woofers. And as promised by Panasonic, this approach works genuine wonders on the clarity, bass levels, dynamism and sheer volume of the soundstage the set can produce.
It’s really tough to know what marks to give the 50PZ800B in the Picture and Overall departments. For on the one hand it’s a truly mesmerisingly good HD performer, while on the other its standard definition efforts leave a little to be desired in a number of areas.
In the end, we’ve decided to let our love of HD win the day, and given the TV a 9. But if you don’t watch much or any HD stuff, then the standard definition issues really should make you think at least twice before sending more than £1,800 Panasonic’s way.