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Panasonic TX-P55VT65B review

 Review: May 2013  
 

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The Panasonic Viera TX-P55VT65B delivers reference quality blacks, 3000Hz motion, superb Smart TV and a stunning 55 inch design. It's the best TV we've ever reviewed!



 

Design & looks

In the past, we've admired Panasonic's display technology but sneered at their design. But no longer. The VT65 looks every bit as stylish as it should.

The design is based on a "One Sheet of Glass" concept, which does what the name suggests. The bezel surrounding the screen isn't the narrowest ever, but the acrylic border below the screen helps lift the design above the ordinary. The daring V-shaped stand is definitely stylish, and Panasonic have really moved up a gear when it comes to desirability of looks.

With a depth of 51mm, the TV isn't the slimmest on offer, but for a plasma screen this big it doesn't feel at all out of proportion.

A new feature for 2013 is the integrated pop-up camera that can be used both for Skype calls (via the Skype app) and for facial recognition, enabling different family members to have their own home screen.

You also get two remote controls with the TV - a conventional remote and a Touch Pad Controller. Voice control is an option, and a novel feature is the inclusion of a Touchpen, which can be used to "draw" on the screen, although we can't really see the point - only the risk of damaging the screen.

Picture quality

Is this the best TV we've ever reviewed for picture quality? Yes! The picture is utterly superb, whether it's 24p playback or 50Hz input, Blu-Ray or standard definition. Everything works here - colour accuracy, dynamic range, motion response and upscaling to 1080p.

Last year we reviewed Panasonic's VT50 plasma range and described it as close to perfection. Yet Panasonic has worked to improve performance even further. Just how close to perfection is it possible to get? The answer is: so close, you may just as well describe it as perfect!

At S21 we've remained big fans of plasma technology, and Panasonic demonstrates here its superior qualities in abundance. Whereas flagship LED TVs like Samsung's UE55F8000 work hard to minimise the downsides of their technology, plasma just plays to its strengths. Let's spell it out clearly - this trumps any LCD/LED TV we've ever reviewed.

Let's start with the basics. Plasma screens excel at producing the deepest blacks and the highest contrast ratios possible. With improvements to the pre-discharge control, and no leakage of backlighting as happens in LED edgelit TVs, blacks are as black as black can be. The High Contrast Filter Pro reduces reflections to a minimum too. And forget 50 shades of grey, the VT65 offers 30,720 shades of gradation, which enables it to reproduce the subtleties of dark, moody images and light and airy scenes brilliantly. This delivers the kind of dynamic range that LED TVs would die for.

When it comes to motion, once again literally nothing can match this TV. Panasonic has uprated the response rate far beyond anything achievable using LCD/LED technology, with the use of a 3,000Hz Focused Field Drive producing a light emission of 1/3,000th of a second duration. In Game Mode, lag is minimal, making this a superb screen for demanding gamers.

As with all plasma screens, viewing angles are very wide, so you can sit wherever you like in the room without any noticeable loss in picture quality.

3D

3D performance is as near-perfection as 2D. Like all plasmas, the VT65 uses active shutter 3D, guaranteeing that the picture resolution is full 1080p HD. Two pairs of 3D glasses are included, and they are comfortable to wear, although slightly heavier than passive 3D glasses.

The improvements to the 2D image translate into 3D, with the 3D experience being rich, detailed and totally immersive, and the 50 inch display generating a truly awesome 3D experience. The display almost eliminates any trace of crosstalk.

The only issue is that the glasses do cut out around 50% of the light, and since the plasma screen isn't as bright as an LED TV, we'd strongly suggest watching 3D TV with the curtains closed and room lights dimmed. This will also minimise any risk of flicker. Of course, if you're a serious movie buff, this is already how you watch TV.

Audio quality

The TV is fitted with stereo front-firing speakers on either side of the screen plus a subwoofer. With a total power of 20 W (5Wx2 + 10W) this delivers decidedly more impact than most TVs. You'll notice the results when playing games, watching movies and even just listening to dialogue.

In combination with the VR-Audio Pro Stage 2.1 surround sound, the TV is a match for many dedicated soundbars, although it can't match a full 5.1 or 7.1 home cinema system, which is recommended for enthusiasts.

Menus & Smart TV

Panasonic has refreshed its menu design for 2013, introducing the My Home Screen concept as the basic starting point for navigation. As mentioned, each member of the family can have their own version of the home screen, and it can be extensively customised. From the home screen you can move to other screens, the Electronic Programme Guide, access menus, launch apps or select full screen viewing. The menus are perhaps a bit sprawling, and it's not as tight as Samsung's offering, but it's not a bad system at all. In fact, we like it.

The Smart TV user interface is powered by Panasonic's 6-core "Hexa-Processing Engine" which is certainly fast enough to power the graphical user interface and carry out tasks like loading web pages (although the web browser can't display all web pages correctly.)

There are plenty of apps available, including the BBC iPlayer, Skype, YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and channels like BBC News and Sport.

Connectivity

Internet connectivity is available via an ethernet cable or built-in Wi-Fi.

There are (just) 3 HDMI connections and 3 USB ports, plus a microSD card slot, and SCART, headphone, component/composite and digital audio connectors. In addition you'll find a Common Interface (CI) slot and also wireless Bluetooth connectivity as a bonus.

Interestingly, you get not just Freeview HD and Freesat HD, but two of each (with two satellite inputs). This means that you can use the TV as a PVR with an external USB disk drive.

The TV supports display mirroring with a compatible smartphone and you can download an app to use your smartphone as a remote. DLNA support enables you to access music, videos and photos from a home network.

Conclusion

Don't choose it if you're a Guardian reader, as the C-class energy consumption is about 2-3 times as much as an equivalent LED TV. But for anyone else, you'll have to search for a good reason not to buy this amazing TV.

OK, the cost would be a good reason. Priced at about £2,500 it's well beyond most people's budgets, and we'd have to point out that you can buy last year's model (the VT50) for nearly £1,000 less. We reckon that if you wait until after Christmas 2013 you'll be able to buy it for a lot less, but that's a very long time to wait! Because, despite the high cost, we honestly feel that this TV is worthy of 5 stars. It's so close to perfection. It looks fabulous. Picture quality is perfect, audio quality is outstanding, and the Smart TV functionality is pretty damn good too. This is perhaps the only thing that could be improved. Samsung's flagship LED TV - the UE55F8000 has the edge here, but it isn't as good in other respects.

Awarding the TV 5 stars perhaps reveals our fondness for plasma, but if you're that way inclined too, we think you'll agree with us that this is simply the best TV that money can buy.


Panasonic TX-P55VT65B features include:

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Reviewed by jazz from uk on 27th Feb 2014
breath taking.....no tv in the world will comes close or will even come closer......
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