Panasonic's insistence on sticking exclusively with plasma technology for its big TVs is admirably stubborn. And who needs LCD when it produces gas screens as good as the TX-P46G15?
Best of an impressive set of connections is a satellite input, flagging up that the TX-P46G15 is another of Panasonic's Freesat TVs, with HD digital satellite tuner built in. An ordinary RF input reminds us, meanwhile, that the P46G15 also has analogue and Freeview tuners.
There's also a respectable four HDMIs for digital HD sources, an SD card slot for playback of JPEGs, DivX and AVCHD files and an Ethernet port that should ultimately provide access to the BBC's iPlayer function.
This latter feature already enables you to jack into Panasonic's VieraCast online portal and provides access to specially formatted content from YouTube, Picasa and Eurosport.
The on-paper specification makes stimulating reading. There's a full HD pixel count, a truly vast claimed contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1, leaving the contrast ratios of normal LCD TVs looking puny, and a huge 600Hz refresh rate claim.
This high refresh rate figure isn't quite what it seems, however. Rather than the TX-P46G15's screen refreshing 600 times per second, the 600 frame rate is in fact derived from the number of frames generated by Panasonic's frame interpolation technology. While this might make the 600Hz name a little dubious, it should still result in less picture judder.
The TX-P46G15 has a distinctly split personality: high-definition looks mostly sensational, but standard-definition looks merely OK.
Starting with the HD heroics, the first thing that hits you like a bolt from home cinema heaven is the awesome profundity of the black levels. In fact, thanks to the way they manage to combine grey-free darkness with perfectly natural shadow detail portrayal, they're the all-round best black levels apart from screens such as Pioneer's awesome Kuro sets.
The TX-P46G15 also reproduces the spectacular sharpness and detail on good Blu-ray discs extremely well – especially as the 600Hz engine reins in judder nicely. Panasonic's V10 plasma series do even better with Blu-ray judder, but they cost more, of course.
Colour response is also likeably natural with high-definition material. It's not as impressive as the V10 series, which boasts Panasonic's Digital Cinema Colour system, but certainly good enough to make films look mouthwateringly cinematic.
It's odd, then, that the TX-P46G15's colour palette slides off key with standard-definition. Reds and skin tones can look rather orange, rich green colours look a bit forced and dominant and some dark scenes adopt a slightly green undertone.
We also felt that standard-definition pictures weren't as sharp as we'd have liked. This helps keep noise out of them perhaps, but the difference in clarity between high- and standard-def is sharper than we would normally expect it to be.
With some solid audio to accompany its spectacular HD pictures, the TX-P46G15 is an ideal screen for dedicated Blu-ray enthusiasts. But, its standard-def issues make it a more considered purchase for everyone else.
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