Now that Pioneer’s mighty Kuro range is heading for the great digital dustbin in the sky, the way would appear to be clear for Panasonic to take over at the top of the plasma TV pack.
And at first glance, the new TX-P46Z1’s fearsomely comprehensive spec and astonishingly svelte proportions should put it in a strong position to do just that.
World’s slimmest plasma
Panasonic still prefers to use plasma tech for its larger TVs, and with good reason – the TX-P46Z1’s black levels and contrast performance outgun many an LCD rival.
Besides, when you can cram a plasma TV chassis into something as slim as this – and at just 25mm deep (bar the odd projection or two) this is the world’s slimmest plasma TV – then what’s to complain about?
With THX approval (for optimum performance) and NeoPDP 600Hz motion processing (for maximum pub kudos) it’s got plenty to shout about in the picture-enhancing department, too.
The Panasonic’s other big selling point is it features wireless video distribution. This comprises two boxes: a sender, which looks just like a conventional set-top-box, and a bolt-on wireless video receiver, which clips to the back of the TV.
Just hook up all your source components into the sender box and you’re sorted: it’ll readily send video up to 1080p/24fps into the TV without a fuss, and we found it worked seamlessly throughout our tests.
The only bugbear is that the bolt-on wireless module adds quite a lot of depth to the TV’s slim chassis – surely it’d be neater and more elegant to have it built-in?
In action, there’s much to admire here. The Z1’s motion tracking is stable and realistic, and TV pictures from both the Freeview and Freesat tuners are stable and clear, especially if you dial up some off-air HD via the latter source.
Sound is gutsy too, although if you’re spending this much money on a television, you really ought to budget a few extra quid for a home cinema system too.
The only real problem is price. We’ve seen TVs that appear sharper, or which are, at the very least, equally as crisp to behold – and they cost appreciably less than the money Panasonic is chasing here.