Panasonic plasmas: picture gizmos galore

Panasonic has announced some major improvements to its plasma panel technology

Panasonic has unveiled its 2007 plasma TV line-up at its pan-European press conference today - including its first full HD 1080p sets.

The company claims to have improved its plasma picture enhancement technology for 2007 with new versions of its V-Real processing engine. The outcome, the company claims, is even darker blacks and subtler transitions between different colours, resulting in exceptional detail on large displays.

There are two new kinds of V-Real engine - V-Real II for 1080i/720p sets and V-Real II Pro for 1080p TVs. Key features of both kinds of V-Real engine are:

  • 1080p Digital Processing Chipset Enables Panasonic plasma TVs to display 1080p Blu-ray images on compatible TVs with no down-conversion for optimum picture quality.
  • 1080p Digital Remastering Process Essentially a video upscaler, the Digital Remastering Process tranforms moving images from TV broadcasts and DVD players so they can be viewed on large flat panel 1080p displays. It also applies progressive scan to 1080i interlaced images, promising a greater degree of detail.
  • Digital Optimiser Panasonic claims this technology drastically reduces picture noise - also known as the mosquito effect - to deliver better quality pictures. It does this by analysing each frame in a moving image, selectively applying the Digital Optimiser where its most needed.
  • Motion Pattern Noise Reduction Pretty self-explanatory. Panasonic says the technology reduces image noise caused by patterns on moving images. The result is an improvement in image quality in fast action scenes.
  • Motion Picture ProClaims to eliminate motion blur - also known as the 'comet effect' - where a trail of after-image is left behind an object moving quickly across the screen. Panasonic reckons this is great for football, tennis and fans of other ball games, as the ball will be able to be seen sharply and clearly as it moves quickly from frame to frame.
  • Real Black Drive System and Deep Black FilterPanasonic is claiming a contrast ratio of 5,000:1 for its 2007 1080p TVs, enabling them to deliver deeper blacks than is usually possible with plasma technology.
  • 4,096 Equivalent Steps of GradationApplying only to the company's full HD sets, this uses up to 16-bit signal processing to increase the range of shades between the brightest whites and darkest blacks. By contrast the company's regular HD panels are only capable of 3,072 gradation steps.
  • Sub-Pixel ControllerPanasonic claims this eliminates jagged edges on contour lines in moving images, especially on diagonal lines which are usually pretty easy to spot on large flat panel displays.
  • Intelligent Scene ControllerOne of the problems with some plasma displays is that they can suffer from 'blackout' where the panel can't resolve detail in different black levels, resulting in totally black areas of the screen. Panasonic claims the Intelligent Scene Controller can overcome this by dynamically adjusting the contrast and brightness of the screen.
  • Wide viewing anglePanasonic also says its plasma panels have a very wide viewing angle from the left, right, top and bottom with little loss in picture colour and contrast. This, the company claims, enables everyone in your family to enjoy a great TV viewing experience, no matter where they sit in a room. The sets on display at the European conference certainly look good from this point of view.