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The best high-def TVs of 2007

2007 really has been a watershed year for TVs. Prices have plummeted so quickly it's hard to keep up; sizes have increased so fast; and flat TV technology has improved so much that it's enough to make you dizzy.

With so much going on, it's fair to say that any TV that manages to stand out from the crowd like the following five (presented in no particular order) really has to be something special.
TVs just don't get more special than the Pioneer PDP-508XD.

Realising that market prices were dropping so fast that it couldn't keep up, Pioneer decided the time was right to step out of the cut-throat price war. Instead, it would throw all of its efforts into creating a whole new standard of flat TV performance for which it could charge a premium price. And with the 508XD, it achieved that aim quite magnificently.

The 08XD models are nicknamed 'KURO' by Pioneer, which is Japanese for 'black'. And the reason for this name is simply that the TVs use evolved plasma technology to produce the single finest black level response the flat TV world has ever seen.

If you don't think this sounds like a big deal, consider that without a good black level response colours can't look natural, dark scenes can't look credible and shadow detailing is limited. In other words, you just can't get a truly cinematic image without a good black level. So it follows that by delivering the best flat TV black levels yet, the KURO models also produce the most cinematic flat TV picture quality yet.

As we suggested earlier, the 508XD isn't cheap. But with all sorts of other reasons to love it too - its large size, its superb connectivity, its flexibility with both HD and standard definition sources, its remarkably rich colours etc - in our opinion its money very well spent indeed.
While you have to pay for the absolute best picture quality around, though, you can thankfully get very good picture quality for relative peanuts, courtesy of the Panasonic TH-42PZ70.

Panasonic has long been a star of the flat TV world with its 'Real Black Drive' plasma technology, and although it's had its thunder stolen somewhat this year by Pioneer's remarkable advances, its managed a major coup of its own by launching the UK's only full HD 42-inch plasma TV.

The 42PZ70 makes its extra resolution count in two ways: greater detail in its pictures, and more subtle nuances in its colour reproduction. And of course, these new strengths join older Panasonic triumphs like a superb (if not quite KURO-level) black response and really nice colour tones.

Arguably the very best thing about the 42PZ70, though, is how affordable it is. You can now get its Panasonic quality and full HD resolution for under £1,000 if you know where to look. And that's little short of amazing.
If the TVs covered so far sound too big for you, then how about our next selection: the Philips 32PFL9632D. This 32-inch LCD model crams into its svelte little body more hard technology than most brands use across an entire TV range - and all of it is put to outstanding use in producing picture quality to die for.

Probably the single most important secret of this TV's success is its new Perfect Pixel HD Engine.

This takes all the already impressive stuff found in the latest generation of Philips' detail-boosting Pixel Plus processing, and adds a powerful new HD Natural Motion circuit to make movement look smoother, a 48Hz to better show 1080p/24 feeds from HD DVD and Blu-ray players, a new colour boosting circuit, and 14-bit video processing that's reckoned to give you as many as four trillion different colour tones.

John Archer

AV Technology Contributor

John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.