Of course, introducing 12 extra frames for every single real frame in a 50Hz video stream isn’t easy, requiring a veritable powerhouse of video processing. As a result, Panasonic is using frame rate numbers as one of the major distinguishing features between its new high, mid and low-end models. For instance, while models from the G10 and higher ranges get 600Hz, the step-down S10 models get 400Hz, while the lower-still X10 models get 100Hz.
Regular readers will probably guess that the technology delivering the 600Hz frame result on the P46G10 is Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation system, which can be switched on or off via an obscurely named Other Settings sub-menu. Not that the P46G10 is generally obscure to use, mind you. As I always try to point out in any Panasonic review, I actually find the brand’s operating system one of the simplest around, thanks to a well laid-out remote control and clear, concise onscreen menus.
Having inevitably focussed so far largely on the completely new features the P46G10 brings to the table, it’s taken me a bit longer than expected to get to yet another ace up the TV’s sleeve: its built-in Freesat tuner. Building reception of Freesat’s HD and standard def channels into a flat TV’s bodywork has proved a commercial masterstroke so far on Panasonic’s part, chiming perfectly with a clutter-hating, cash-strapped marketplace looking to avoid paying subscription fees for their TV channels. As ever, the Freesat tuner is joined in the P46G10 by a Freeview tuner, with decently presented electronic programme guides available for both.
Other notable facts about the P46G10 find it sporting an SD card slot capable of playing AVCHD movies as well as JPEG stills, a slightly underwhelming HDMI count of three, and the increasingly ubiquitous Eco mode, whereby the picture can be set to automatically adjust its brightness output in response to light levels in your viewing room.
If I’m honest, while the new X10 Panasonic plasma TVs I’ve seen so far have been good, they haven’t been truly outstanding, leaving me feeling that the brand was holding stuff back for its higher-spec models – a feeling that’s entirely borne out by the clearly superior P46G10.
For instance, as the NeoPDP blurb promises, pictures on the P46G10 look noticeably more dynamic thanks to striking improvements in both the depth of the screen’s black level response and general brightness level.
The P46G10’s black levels actually achieve KURO-esque levels of rich, pure darkness. During a Blu-ray run-through of Quantum of Solace, for instance, the corners of the cave where Bond ends up with Camille following their escape from a plane crash, for instance, look almost completely dark. But far more importantly, the ease (relative to LCD) with which the P46G10 achieves these black levels, together with the image’s greater brightness, means that there’s an outstanding amount of shadow detailing on show. In other words, you can clearly see background rocks and patches of light in the cave sequence that just aren’t visible at all on most flat TV rivals.