With Joe Public obsessed with LCD technology, it's brave for Panasonic to persist with plasma technology for its latest 37in flat TV, the TH-37PX600. But, if anyone can make a case for 37in plasma TVs, it's Panasonic.
The 37PX600 isn't as pretty as Panasonic's previous generation plasma TVs, with its flimsy grey chassis. There is a floor-standing cabinet option, however.
Connectivity is excellent, with twin HDMIs being joined by component video jacks, three Scarts, a computer input, and an SD card slot capable of playing JPEGs or MPEG4 movies from SD digital camera cards, or recording MPEG4 movies from the TV. A shame that no other card formats are supported, though.
The HDMIs also support Panasonic's HDAVI system, allowing two-way, network-style communication between the TV and compatible Panasonic kit.
Elsewhere, the 37PX600 sports a digital tuner and is fully HD Ready. But for us, its most important feature is its V-Real picture processing. This picture processing is supposed to improve Panasonic's legendary black levels even further and make standard definition pictures look more detailed.
For the most part, V-Real does exactly what it claims, helping the 37PX600 produce pictures that more than justify Panny's decision to stick with plasma at the 37in level.
With our King Kong test disc, black levels are nothing short of spectacular. Night scenes look deeper and richer than on any other 37in TV, and Kong's black coat looks wonderfully detailed. It's in this department that plasma most shows LCD the door.
Kong's tricky range of fleshtones and foliage hues show the 37PX600 to offer a more extensive and natural colour palette than almost all LCD rivals (though the best LCDs can arguably look a touch more vivid).
The 37PX600 wows with its handling of motion during the dinosaur stampede sequence too, with zero sign of the LCD's all-too-common smearing artefacts.
We have only two small issues with the 37PX600's pictures. First, in HD mode they don't deliver quite so much detail or sharpness as the very best 37in LCD models. Second, colours occasionally look slightly stripey, rather than completely smoothly blended. But these are but small detractions from an otherwise outstanding picture effort.
The new Smart Sound speaker system helps the 37PX600 deliver an outstanding audio effort, with distortion-free bass, a wide soundstage, clean vocals, and fine audio details galore.
Ultimately, the 37PX600 is another great - if not especially cheap - Panasonic plasma TV. So while LCD might be getting all the attention right now, the 37PX600 should definitely be on any 37in shortlist.