Blu-ray performance was, as you would hope, very good indeed. We popped on the movie 21, with Kevin Spacey, and were dazzled by a very natural-looking picture. The film has a distinctly muted feel to it -- it doesn't have many bright colours and generally takes place indoors in darkened casinos and dingy MIT classrooms. The Panasonic handles all of this with distinction, with dark blacks -- although not quite to the level the Pioneer manages.
The Panasonic doesn't have a movie judder-reduction mode, like some of the higher-end models. In fact, we don't consider this to be much of a problem because these modes ruin the film's look, and we're purists so we turn it off anyway. If you really want an extreme judder-reduction mode, you'll want to look elsewhere.
Looking very closely at the screen, it's possible to see some blue speckling on areas that are dark, but not totally black. This doesn't affect areas like the black bars you get at the top and bottom of some movies, but if you look closely at deep blues you'll see them. We aren't going to criticise the Panasonic too much for this because it's not noticeable unless you've got your nose pressed up against the screen. And you shouldn't do that, it's bad for your eyes.
We also found ourselves impressed by the sound quality of the PZ80. Speech in particular was crisp and clear. Sometimes we felt there was too much booming bass, but running the TV in its default sound setting and decreasing the bass control would certainly help reduce this. But overall, you could get by with the built-in speakers on this TV for the most part. Big action movies always benefit from a sound bar or 5.1 system, but that doesn't necessarily suit every home or budget.
If you're after bundles of features or many picture modes, this TV isn't for you. If you want a good all-round performer capable of making Freeview look good and bringing the best out of your Blu-ray player, HD games console or HD TV service, we think you'll be thrilled with this screen.
For alternatives, take a look at the Toshiba Regza 40ZF355D, which has a beautiful picture-frame bezel, and some of the best movie performance we've seen from any TV around this price. You could also spend a little more on the Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81, which has freesat built-in, and some other picture processing modes.
Edited by Marian Smith