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Panasonic TH-50PX600B: Well worth severe back strain

Backs have been strained and muscles pulled, but our eyes are happy now we've managed to get Panasonic's 50-inch plasma into the Crave office

We love massive TVs -- who doesn't? -- but we hate lifting the suckers. Sadly, the only way to play with the best and biggest screens is to get them into our fifth-floor office. So when we had a call explaining that the Panasonic 50PX600B was here, a silence descended across the office. Eventually volunteers were dragged back from sudden errands and the Panny was hoisted into position, ready for some rigorous watching.

If you've never had the pleasure, opening the box of a TV this size is daunting at first. Fortunately, Panasonic has given this plenty of thought. The box can be separated into two parts, which are joined by removable plastic hand grips. One part consists of a small cardboard base, which the TV sits on. The top half is the rest of the box, which comes off over the top of the TV, leaving it in its cardboard bottom section. Lifting the TV on to its stand from this bottom section is much easier than trying to lift it out of a normal box.

Putting the stand together was pretty simple -- it just requires two bolts, which slide into the bottom of the TV where more screws fix the whole thing in place. Once you've got the stand ready it's a simple matter of lifting the TV on to it -- this takes two people, plus a third to say "left a bit, right a bit". We weren't expecting the stand to be as heavy as it was, but it does make sense -- if it was too light, the whole thing would just topple over and kill you. In a further attempt to prevent unnecessary deaths, Panasonic also recommends you tether it to the wall.

Once we had the TV set up a gathering of people arrived, much like at an art gallery, and we stood around discussing the merits of King Kong biting the tongue off a T-Rex in high definition. Trust us, if you haven't seen HD DVD or Blu-ray yet, when you do, you'll find it hard to look away. And it will make normal TV look very ordinary, as we discovered when we flicked on the built-in Freeview and caught a few minutes of Countdown. We dread to think what Pat Butcher would look like on this TV.

Crave is not going to be happy when we have to give our new screen back to Panasonic. And giving the HD DVD player back to Toshiba is going to be a choker too. Crave is currently investigating joining HD Anonymous, a support group for those addicted to high definition. -IM

Update: a full review of the Panasonic Viera TH50PX600 is now live.