Panasonic Viera TH-58PZ700 58in Plasma TV Review - Panasonic Viera TH-58PZ700 Review

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!

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