To help with testing this TV, Universal was helpful enough to release The Bourne Ultimatum on HD DVD, and although the final chapter in Jason Bourne’s story doesn’t represent as big a challenge for a TV as Blade Runner, it’s still a great disc to audition hardware with. The chase across the rooftops in Tangier, culminating with Bourne’s fight with Desh is a stand out scene – the bleached rooftops are a complete contrast to the dark, shadowy building interior and the TH-58PZ700 makes both locations look completely convincing while the focus switches between the two.
If there’s one chink in the TH-58PZ700’s armour, it’s the fact that it can’t process 1080p 24Hz signals. Although this TV is happy to accept a 1080p 24Hz signal, it will convert it to 1080p 60Hz before displaying it, which somewhat defeats the purpose of feeding it a clean 24fps source in the first place. Panasonic has assured me that the next generation of TVs will handle 1080p 24Hz signals properly and apply a simple 4:4 pulldown method to achieve a smooth 96fps image, much like the current crop of Sony TVs.
Surprisingly, the TH-58PZ700 doesn’t suffer too badly from its lack of proper 1080p 24Hz support. Having watched many movies on this screen over the past week or so, I’d be lying if I said I was disappointed in the image quality. Would proper handling of 1080p 24Hz sources produce sharper moving images? Probably, but I doubt you’d really notice unless you knew exactly what you were looking for and were looking hard for it. That said, this is still a feature that Panasonic really needs in its arsenal if it wants to compete with the rest of the high-end HDTV crowd.
If you’re a gamer you’ll really appreciate having a big TV like this. Fire up a mates’ favourite like PES 2008 and settle back in your chair for a truly immersive experience. Likewise, the immensely playable Guitar Hero III has been a big hit in the office on this screen, with the background animations never looking better. Just make sure you avoid the Dynamic colour setting, which makes everything look a bit too cartoony – even cartoons!