Panasonic VIERA TH-58PZ700A

Panasonic VIERA TH-58PZ700A
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Excellent high definition and gaming performance, great integrated speakers

Cons

  • Some issues with standard-definition scaling, small amounts of pixelation in PC mode

Bottom Line

This is a great TV, but it does come at a high price. For purely high-definition playback, however, it's hard to beat.

Would you buy this?

Panasonic's VIERA TH-58PZ700A is a 58-inch 1080p plasma, capable of delivering some incredible images, and perfect for any movie lover. Its excellent high-definition capabilities combined with very respectable standard definition and gaming performance make it a great choice for anyone looking for a well rounded and high quality display.

We tested high-definition playback with a range of HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies, and were delighted with the results. The movies were displayed flawlessly on the panel, with deep blacks, rich colours, smooth motion even in high action scenes, and no image aberrations to speak of.

Our gaming tests were equally as impressive - fast-paced action as well as both light and dark scenes were rendered smoothly and free of any problems such as contrast stepping or over-sharpening. We did notice some slight pixelation on curved edges at times, but the overall gaming experience was excellent.

Standard definition has long been the Achilles' heel of 1080p displays, due to the huge amount of scaling required to fit a standard-definition image across the entire screen. Nevertheless, the TH-58PZ700A handles it quite respectably. We noticed occasional artefacts in certain situations (such as a moving shot of a finely detailed background through a flyscreen), however for the most part, playback was clear and detailed. This unit is definitely one of the better 1080p TVs for standard-definition playback that we've seen.

We tested the PC connectivity and found it to be reasonably good; suitable for most uses but not quite perfect. We noticed some sharpness and pixelation problems in text and desktop icons, but these are hard to overcome due to the amount of scaling needed to display the image. Colours were good, and we were generally able to use the PC comfortably with the panel as a monitor.

The integrated digital HD tuner performed well, with a quick scan and great high-definition playback. The unit's integrated speakers are very impressive, with basic calibration options such as right/left balance and bass/treble adjustment available in the menu system. Volume output was quite good in out tests, with only minor distortion evident at the highest volumes.

The panel's design is attractive, with a piano black bezel and curved stand, and should fit well into any living room. The rear panel connections are very well organised and easy to access, and include three HDMI ports.

The Panasonic VIERA TH-58PZ700A is a display that's very hard to fault. Its performance faults are largely confined to peripheral functions, while its primary purpose - high-definition playback - is handled exceptionally. It does come at a premium price, but at the same time, it's a premium product. If you're in the market for a big, high quality display, the TH-58PZ700A is worth checking out.

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