So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ700A
- Flawless image quality in all HD modes, high quality images in SD, good feature set, abundance of connection options
- Some discolouration in SD tests, Nno support for 1920x1080 PC connections, pixelation in PC mode
The Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ700A performed brilliantly with HD content and very well with SD and PC content. While the latter wasn't perfect, they were still usable, just not perfect. Anyone purchasing this unit will not be disappointed.
Price$ 5,499.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ700A is a 50in 1080p plasma television with a native resolution of 1920x1080. It can accept signals from 480p through to 1080p and does so with impeccable clarity and quality. We put the panel to the test with an extensive series of tests and found the image quality to be excellent across all modes.
Since 1080p technology is so incredibly complicated to manufacture, finding a television that will display it well has been a little hit and miss in the last six months. The selling point on this plasma panel is definitely its 1080p capabilities and as such we performed gaming- and movie-based tests to look for the same problems that plagued the first generation 1080p units.
The gaming tests were delivered flawlessly. There was no over sharpening or excess noise. There was no pixelation or discolouration. The contrast was excellent in our tests with no stepping and a pleasing blend between light and dark areas. Colours were bright and vivid, and the black levels were a deep black. We ran games in 1080p, 720p and 1080i to check the differences and found very few. There was a minor level of pixelation on 720p image, but it was barely noticeable and shouldn't be a problem at a comfortable viewing distance.
We tested 1080p movies using both HD DVD and Blu-ray films while connected via HDMI. Once again, the panel proved its worth with excellent images, fine detail and impeccable clarity. Motion was handled well with no excessive blur or jitter. We also tried some 720p video clips and, for the most part, they looked excellent too. There was a minor level of pixelation on curved edges but it was manageable and not overt.
If you have as many DVDs as we do, chances are the standard definition performance is just as important to you as the HD. We ran DVD tests and found that, while they were still subject to interpolation artefacts, the image quality was adequate. There was noticeable pixelation at times and some discolouration of background textures. However, skin tones were displayed well without any contrast stepping and while there was a little pixelation on edges, there were no artefacts.
We also connected the panel to a PC and ran a series of tests to look for any image quality issues. Plasma televisions generally don't fair well in PC tests but the VIERA did an honourable job of it. It wasn't perfect but it was definitely usable for most PC applications. We found that the colours and detail on the desktop was quite good although some edges and, in particular, text appeared a little too pixelated at times. The maximum resolution we were able to use without any image quality problems was 1366x768. This means that the panel is doing quite a bit of scaling in order to display a PC image. As such, the pixelation is understandable. Still, if you are looking for perfection in the PC mode performance, this unit is close but no cigar.
The digital tuner worked well with a three-minute setup time and no real image quality problems. The speakers were subject to a minor level of distortion at the highest volume but on the whole, belted out high quality audio with a good amount of bass and treble. For integrated speakers, they performed well. We were also impressed with the number of ports and the layout at the rear of the television - most notably the three HDMI ports and the SDHC compatible SD card slot.
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