This is a lot of television: the Panasonic TH-46PZ85 is a 46in, Full HD plasma with analogue and Freeview tuners, three HDMI inputs among a heap of connectivity, and great build quality. Unless you’re a prima donna when it comes to specs, you’ll be throwing no hissy fits here.
But, be absolutely – absolutely, mind – sure that you can fit a 46in set in your lounge. If you’re making the step up from, say, a 24in CRT set, this one will likely scare the life out of you.
After a bit of a wrestle with the set-up menus, the Panasonic’s performance is persuasive. There’s no surprise that it does its best work when receiving Full HD information via a Blu-ray player. Scorsese’s gangster classic Goodfellas looks effortlessly natural, with movement tracked tenaciously and skin tones and textures just so. With the extra definition you can appreciate how the actors are made to age subtly as the film progresses.
Black in business
The plasma has a real facility with contrasts, too (as is often the case with that technology). Whites stay bright even as detail is revealed in black tones. It’s not quite the inky black we’ve come to expect from some Panasonic plasmas, but you’d never mistake it for an LCD.
Some minor picture noise arrives with the switch to viewing standard-def DVDs, with even the plasma-friendly animation Ratatouille suffering from it.
As far as Freeview is concerned, it’s a similar story – though the on-board Freeview tuner is relatively efficient, there’s a definite restlessness to edges and some uncertainty with dark tones compared with the solidarity and robustness of HD. All we can do is recommend you try to live on a high-def diet – poor you.
In conclusion, we have to emphasise that even though this isn’t the most impressive Panasonic plasma we’ve ever seen, it’s still formidable value for money. A 46in plasma television set for only £1,500? Amazing…