If you want to create a convincing cinema experience at home, you need a big screen, and TVs don't get much bigger -- without getting silly, anyway -- than Panasonic's 65-inch, plasma Viera TH-65PZ800, with 'Full HD' 1080p resolution.
Let's pray this bruiser of a screen has some quality to go with its instantly adorable quantity, and price tag of around £3,800.
The 'PZ800' part of the 65PZ800's name indicates that it belongs to Panasonic's flagship TV series -- so it sports a huge list of connections, including four v1.3 HDMIs and an SD card slot, through which you can play either JPEG stills or AVCHD movies.
The 65PZ800's flagship status also means it boasts 1080p resolution, a stellar contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, and image-processing technology aplenty.
At the top of this image-processing tree sits Panasonic's V-Real 3 Pro engine, with its emphasis on noise reduction, sharpness, motion and colour toning. Support comes from a 100Hz engine, as well as an Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) system, which calculates new frames of image data between the 'real' ones in a source, to make motion appear more fluid.
Yet another intriguing trick up the set's sleeve is a Digital Cinema Colour engine, designed to produce a claimed 5,120 steps of gradation and 120 per cent of the conventional HD TV colour standard.
We can't say with absolute precision just how important all of these individual features are. But what we definitely can say, with total confidence, is that the 65PZ800's pictures are sensational.
For starters, they're exceptionally bright by the standards of big-screen plasmas, which traditionally struggle with luminance levels.
Also hugely impressive is how natural the set's colours look. Many other really big plasmas -- including previous 65-inch models from Panasonic -- have tended to suffer with radioactive greens, orangey reds and some pretty alien-looking skin tones. But such problems are hugely reduced by the 65PZ800, as the Digital Cinema Colour system and V-Real processing combine to paint a subtle and natural, but also engagingly vibrant, colour palette that makes everything you watch look completely believable.
Further, the 65PZ800 blew us away with its black level response. There's scarcely a hint of the grey misting effect still so common in the flat TV world; shadow detailing is remarkably well rendered, enabling dark scenes to enjoy real depth; and there's practically no sign of the old green undertone to dark scenes that characterises older big-screen plasmas.
We're still not done with the good news. The 65PZ800 also revels in producing HD sources with a degree of native sharpness and resolution that's little short of a revelation on a screen of such size. Yet the V-Real processing means the TV can also handle standard-definition sources on its gargantuan screen with an integrity, lack of noise and general watchability that embarrasses many TVs of half the size.
As if the 65PZ800's picture glories aren't overwhelming enough, it also sounds excellent. Its Advanced Sound speaker system proves unusually powerful, using separated tweeters and woofers to deliver even a high-octane action scene with authority, clarity and power.
We have to say that the 65PZ800 isn't particularly attractive by today's fashion-conscious standards. It's just a serious-looking black rectangle.
Our other main concern is the (thankfully optional) Intelligent Frame Creation system. While this system certainly does make motion look silky smooth, even with 1080p/24 sources, it also occasionally generates more unwanted glitches than we're entirely comfortable with.
One further, much more minor issue is that, just occasionally, for no good reason that we can see, areas of skin tones look slightly patchy and blocky. Frankly, however, you'll probably be too busy slavering over all the good stuff to notice this.
The 65PZ800 is the flagship TV in Panasonic's current consumer range, and it lives up to this title with an almost regal swagger. It's big, it's clever and its performance is so good that it's quite probably worth building a dedicated home cinema room for.
Edited by Charles Kloet