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Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ800B and TH-42PZ800B plasmas

If you're bored of staring into a fireplace, allow Panasonic to introduce you to the 'digital hearth', where you can meet with your family around a well placed and slightly warming plasma TV

TVs

Panasonic is launching two new plasma TVs -- and making an awful lot of fuss about a concept called the 'digital hearth'. Apparently we've all got better things to do these days than stare wistfully into the fireplace as warming flames lick at wood you chopped and gathered with your own hands that very afternoon. Instead we all sit like mindless zombies in front of Holly Willoughby's capacious cleavage while chowing down salted snacks, and Panasonic wants to better enable this mindless gawping with its high-end PZ800 series plasma TVs.

The PZ800s are, as you would imagine, 1080p panels, with 24p support. There are two sizes available, 42 and 50 inches (the TH-42PZ800B and TH-50PZ800B respectively). Panasonic is claiming that it has made significant improvements in the picture quality of its plasma screens. These top-end TVs feature the new V-Real PRO 3 technology, the aim of which is to optimise motion and improve fine detail. Panny even enlisted the help of its Hollywood laboratory to improve the way the TVs handle movies.

Panasonic is also very proud of its digital cinema colour and wide colour support. It's claiming that its TVs cover 120 per cent of the HDTV colour standard, which makes very little sense and we suspect is mere marketing enthusiasm. But hopefully it should mean we get TVs that produce some lovely, vivid images with eye-popping colours.

The PZ800 series boast a 100,000-hour panel life and 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and Panasonic is touting significant improvements in power consumption, and the friendliness of materials being used in the production of its TVs, including the elimination of environmentally damaging stuff such as mercury and lead.

You'll also get a Viera Link remote control with your TV, and while that's hardly a big deal, it means you can control your entire home cinema with just the TV remote.

So say goodbye to that old fireplace, Panasonic wants to entertain you with a glowing box instead. To be fair, we'd probably rather look at a TV than a raging fire anyway. We've never understood what cavemen saw in it, but then they were amused by cave drawings and had no access to celebrities falling over on ice. –Ian Morris

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