Enthusiasts of TV techno-bling troubled by the sheer choice of 50-,52- , 60- and 65in screens now have a new configuration to ponder: 58in.

More than some, less than others. Actually, the size transpires to be a great fit for plasma-king Panasonic.

Sensational audio

The brand's new TH-58PZ700B is a glossy Full HD TV, with plenty of clever tech to justify the £3,500 asking price. I was particularly impressed by the barely visible 'SmartSound' stereo speakers, which deliver probably the best audio I've heard on a flatscreen.

An integrated SD card reader conversant with digital photographs and 'camcorded' AVC-HD or MPEG-2 video content is also present.

There are plenty of connections, too, including three HDMI v1.3 sockets. And for those still living in the analogue world, there are three Scart sockets.

Other features include a real-world contrast ratio of 964:1; 16bit V-Real 2 video processing; picture-in-picture; auto-contrast sensor; a PC input; and 1080p24 playback. Despite all the functionality, setup is simple, thanks to a well-organised batch of menus.

Stunning HD DVD pictures

In terms of performance, the TH-58PZ700B transcends expectations. With the exquisite HD DVD version of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott's dystopian LA has never looked better.

Thanks to this Panny's wide contrast range, the city's grime, rain and shadowy depths are all brought to stunning life - even though the TV falls short of delivering a true black.

The sheer resolution of HD comes across well; everylit window in the Tyrell offices is individually discernable.

A superior plasma

As the movie's frequent neon lighting demonstrates, saturated colours are superbly-rendered, but so to are more subtle hues and shades.

DVDs also fare surprisingly well - the complex skin, rust and marine colours that characterise Waterworldare accurately displayed with none of the 'banding' that plagued the plasma TVs of yesteryear, although you're advised to turn off the 1080p24 option if you're watching such discs via a hi-def player. With my Toshiba deck, this resulted in scaling artifacts and judder.

Digital TV is a little on the 'soft' side, which admittedly helps to mask artifacts. A digital noise reduction facility is only effective in the removal of 'grain' from analogue sources.

Overall, the Panasonic TH-58PZ700B is a superior plasma television, perfect for big-screen movie viewing.