Panasonic's 37in may not be as cheap as its LCD rivals, but its quality is undeniable
Mostly sensational pictures
HD pictures not as sharp as with some LCD rivals
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If anyone can make a strong case for plasma vs the LCD upstarts it's Panasonic, right? To be honest, this set's grey fascia looks a bit plasticky and bland compared with most rivals. Aesthetics improve immensely, though, if you stump up for the sensationally svelte floor-standing cabinet.
Connectivity immediately impresses, courtesy of two HDMI ports. Throw in the inevitable set of component jacks for analogue HD support, a PC input, three Scarts and an SD card slot, and you're laughing.
The screen's integrated SD card slot can play or record digital stills and MPEG4 movies, while the HDMI jacks support Panasonic's HDAVI system, which enables enhanced two-way communication between the TV and other HDAVI-ready Panasonic kit.
The 37PX600's digital tuner, has 7-day EPG support and a CI slot for optional subscription services.
Beneath the bodywork is Panasonic's new V-Real processing engine. This serves up a host of processing improvements over Panny's previous plasma generation, including native handling of 720p and 1080i, detail boosting for standard-definition sources, 11.5-bit video processing combined with auto gamma control to deliver a claimed 29 billion different colours, and a sub-pixel control system that works on the picture's red, green and blue components individually to boost line definition.
As if all this didn't sound impressive enough, the 37PX600 also sports Panasonic's long-respected Real Black Drive and new Deep Black Filter systems for upping black levels and reducing reflections.
The PX600 models score over their cheaper PX60 siblings, too, via a more powerful and clear sound system, and a full suite of picture-in-picture tools.
Another day, another top-dollar Panny plasma picture performance. The most noteworthy difference between this model and the rival LCD sets is the profundity of its black level. Dark parts of the picture look completely free pixel noise.
Colours, meanwhile, enjoy a superbly expansive range, portrayed with a combination of dynamism but also naturalism that no LCD TV in this group can match.
The Tech Labs measured the contrast ratio as 305:1, which doesn't fare on paper against some of the LCDs tested here. But while the PX600 doesn't go as bright as the average LCD, it clearly makes up for it at the darker end.
It's also interesting to compare a) just how clean moving objects look, with not a trace of LCD's smearing to be seen and b) just how well SD pictures hold up.
While Panasonic wins most of the plasma/LCD panel comparisons, its HD pictures aren't quite as detailed or sharp looking as those of the best LCD screens.
Remarkably the 37PX600's sonic performance is equally impressive, thanks to exceptional detail and rounded bass.
Panasonic's 37in may not be as cheap as its LCD rivals, but its quality is undeniable. Highly recommended.
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