Panasonic TX-P65VT65B (VT65) Plasma TV Review
If you want the biggest and the best, you know where to go.
What is the Panasonic TX-P65VT65B?There was a time when a 32" TV was considered a 'bit on the big side' but those days are long gone and the current trend is very much towards the larger screen sizes. In fact with sales of high definition TVs already reaching a saturation point in the UK, it's the bigger screen models that are driving a lot of sales. If you're a plasma fan though your options are fairly limited, specially as Panasonic has decided to restrict the ZT65 to a single 60-inch screen size in the UK and Europe. Certainly if 60 inches will do it for you, then the P60ZT65 is an option, it offers the best picture currently available but it isn't cheap and might be hard to find.
If you want to go bigger, then you're looking at a 64 or 65 inch TV and believe us, whilst those extra few inches may not sound like much, they add a huge amount in terms of actual screen real estate. The Samsung PS64F8500 is a very tempting prospect, it has a big 64-inch screen and a superb feature set, but it can also deliver a fantastic picture and a surprising amount of brightness. However if you want the biggest commercially available plasma on the market, then it's going to have to be the Godfather - the Panasonic P65VT65. This beast boasts a 65-inch screen, along with a truly impressive set of features and specifications, all for a genuinely reasonable £3,349. If the P65VT65 can deliver the kind of picture quality that we have saw on the P60ZT65, then it might well be an offer we can't refuse.
Styling and DesignPanasonic's use of their 'Metal & Glass' design philosophy has resulted in their 2013 plasma TVs all looking very similar, although there are subtle differences. The use of a single sheet of glass clearly differentiates the VT and ZT ranges from those below, whilst the v-shaped support column is another indicator of the higher-end models. They all have a black bezel that surrounds the panel itself, which on the P65VT65 measures 3cm all around and long the entire outside of the chassis is a silver trim that's 1cm wide.
Along the bottom there is a 1cm wide clear plastic strip that includes the Panasonic logo, an power LED and an infra-red receiver for the remote; whilst on the right hand rear edge there are some buttons for basic control. Unlike the ZT model, the VT range also has forward firing speakers, with 1cm wide grilles fitted between the bezel and the silver trim. As mentioned previously there's a v-shaped chrome support and brushed metal rectangular base, which on the P65VT65 can't be swivelled.
Despite the entire front of the P65VT65 being made of glass it wasn't especially reflective, even during the daytime, thanks to the filter designed to reject ambient light. The chassis itself is remarkably thin at just 3.5cm deep, whilst the back plate is made of metal and the whole display has a well-engineered and solid construction. As a result of this excellent build quality, not to mention the glass front and the big screen size, the P65VT65 weighs a hefty 51kgs including the stand. There are numerous vents on the rear of the panel and two large cooling fans that actually make quite a bit of noise. The fans weren't generally audible when watching content at a sensible volume but you could clearly hear them with the sound muted. The fans are definitely louder than last year's P65VT50 but, given the brighter panel, there is obviously more heat being generated and thus dissipated. As is always the case with a plasma TV, there was a very slight buzz from the power supply but this couldn't be heard over the sound of the fans.Another difference between the VT and ZT ranges is that the P65VT65 includes a built-in camera for video calling through the Skype app. It can also be used in conjunction with the face recognition technology used to bring up personalised My Home Screens and you can use it to create video messages. The camera automatically pops up when a relevant application is detected but needs to be eased down by hand, in order for it to be hidden within the confines of the bezel. We found the camera worked very well when the room was bright but struggled when the lights were down low, so make sure there's plenty of illumination if you want to be seen clearly during a Skype call or when leaving a video message for others in the house.The P65VT65 includes the usual downwards and sideways facing connections, however despite the screen size, the side facing HDMI inputs are only 12cm from the edge which is still too close. Along with sideways facing HDMI inputs, of which there are only three, there are three USB ports, a headphone socket, a SD card slot, a Common Interface (CI) slot and an optical digital audio output.
Facing downwards there are aerial and satellite inputs, an Ethernet port and the AV1 and AV2 inputs for legacy connections. The AV2 connection doubles up for component and composite video and the AV selection menu lets you manually select which type of signal is being sent, whilst the AV1 input is exclusively for SCART sources. It’s worth noting that, along with the RS-232 connector, Panasonic have also dropped D-SUB VGA connections for PC’s, so it’s DVI/HDMI only going forward. The P65VT65 comes with a 1.5m long three-pin power cable that attaches to a rearward facing socket using a right angled connector to aid in wall mounting.
The P65VT65 comes with Panasonic's standard glossy remote control which includes all the usual functions and the latest Touch Pad controller which is designed to offer a simpler way to navigate around menus and assume general control of the P65VT65. It’s very similar to last year’s version but now includes a ‘trigger’ at the rear, which makes the Touch Pad much easier to use one-handed. As the name would suggest, the controller has a touchpad that allows for some rudimentary TV controls, such as volume or channel selection but it really comes in to its own when used to scroll the internet functions and apps. New for 2013 is a built-in microphone offering its own command interface which actually works very well, recognising normal speech. Although it’s more useful when it comes to content and web searches than for routine duties, such as changing channel or volume.
New for this year is the inclusion of an electronic Touchpen, which Panasonic have ported over from some of their professional panels. The Touchpen pairs with your TV via Bluetooth and then uses the light from each pixel to provide positioning data which, thanks to the fast response time of the panel, allows for free drawing on the screen. There is a protective layer on the screen that you touch the pen against, although Panasonic do stress that you don’t push too hard. You can use the Touchpen for drawing pictures, adding messages or playing games but the novelty wears off fast and we honestly can't see anyone using this feature.The P65VT65 ships with two pairs of Panasonic’s latest active shutter 3D glasses (TY-ER3D5MA), which are incredibly light and comfortable to wear. The lenses on the glasses are rectangular with a neutral in tint and large enough to fit over regular glasses, providing a suitably wide field of view. There is a button at the top of the frames, above the bridge of the nose, where you turn on the glasses; they sync automatically and will switch off if they don't receive a sync signal for 5 minutes. They use the new RF standard and a standard CR2025 battery, which will give approx 70 hours of use.
MenusWhen you first turn on the P65VT65 you are greeted by the new My Home Screen interface, although you can select to just open on the normal full TV screen if you prefer. My Home Screen comes with four default views, the previously mentioned Full Screen TV and three others - TV Home Screen, Lifestyle Screen and Info Screen – with a further option to create customised screens if you so desire. The Full Screen TV option obviously just displays a full video image where the other options provide a windowed video interface with a variety of apps and widgets surrounding it.
The menu system itself is familiar from last year’s ranges with a two-tone blue and gold colour scheme and sharp, easy to read text in white. The Menus are split in to six sub menus, Picture, Sound, Network, Timer, Setup and a new Help section which, amongst other things, includes an ‘eHELP’ interactive menu. This is similar to the iManuals we’ve seen offered by other manufacturers and provides excellent assistance to neophytes amongst you, although the user-friendly nature of most of the menus shouldn’t require much in the way of further explanation. The Picture Menu has been expanded extensively and along with the usual viewing modes, there is a new one called Custom. This offers the same calibration features found on the Professional modes but, unlike those modes, you can adjust the Custom mode using the Smart Calibration feature in the remote app. Otherwise the first page includes the standard picture controls, plus the Colour Temperature setting which has a choice of Cool, Warm and Normal. In addition there are the Vivid Colour, Colour Remaster and Reversal Film Effect controls, which you can turn off.
Moving on to the second page there are controls for the Ambient Sensor, Noise Reduction, MPEG Remaster, Resolution Remaster, Caption Smoother, Brilliance Enhancer and Intelligent Frame Creation - all of which should be turned off if image fidelity is important to you. Don’t forget that Intelligent Frame Creation becomes 24p Smooth Film when you’re watching 24p content and in some of the modes it defaults to maximum, so make sure that is off as well. Also on this page you can access the Advanced Settings, Option Settings, Screen Settings and 3D Settings sub menus.
The Advanced Settings sub-menu includes some new features, at least for Europe, and the most important is the Panel Luminance Settings which offers a choice of Low, Medium or High. One of our few complaints about last year’s model was its lack of brightness, so this new feature should help. There is also an Adaptive Gamma Control and a Black Expander feature, both of which we zeroed and the Colour Gamut, with the option to select Rec.709. Then we have all the conventional calibration controls in the form of a two- and ten-point White Balance, preset Gamma values with a 10 point adjustment feature and a Colour Management System for adjustment of the primary and secondary colours.
The Option Settings sub-menu allows for selecting the Game Mode and the 1080p Pure Direct mode, as well as engaging the Film Cadence Mode. Here is also where you’ll find the setting for HDMI RGB Range, which, unless you’re hooking up a PC, will be best set at Normal range but it’s good to see that it’s assignable per input. Finally, should you so wish, the HDMI inputs can be set to be expecting Graphics or Photos with some automatic picture adjustments then applied, but unless this a professional requirement, we’d advise leaving at the default Auto setting.
The next sub menu is Screen Settings, where you can turn 16:9 Overscan off - although make sure you have also selected the 16:9 Aspect Ratio. If you have the aspect ratio set to Auto, Panasonic TVs will still scale the picture up even with 16:9 Overscan set to off. Other controls include H-Size, Zoom Adjustments, Screen Display, Side Panel, Pixel Orbiter and the Scrolling Bar.The last sub menu is 3D Settings and here you can make adjustments to the 3D performance, although generally you shouldn’t need to make any changes when watching 3D content. However should you need to the options include 3D Detection, 3D Signal Message, 3D Refresh Rate, 2D to 3D Depth, 3D Adjustment, L/R Picture Swap, Edge Smoother and Safety Precautions.
FeaturesThanks to the forward firing speakers, the P65VT65 proved to be surprisingly capable in the audio department, delivering a rather good performance with clear dialogue and a nicely expansive soundstage. Obviously the built-in audio of a TV will never be able to compare to an AV receiver or even a soundbar but the P65VT65 certainly did a good job of delivering a stereo soundstage, no doubt helped by the larger screen size. The VR-Audio Pro Surround 2.1 processing combined with the 2 x 5W of speaker amplification and 1 x 10W of subwoofer amplification definitely paid dividends. The P65VT65 could be played reasonably loud without distorting and the overall audio had a well-balanced feel to it, meaning that even film soundtracks were handled quite well. The built-in audio also managed to reproduce music streamed over our home network effectively and whilst it wouldn't be our first choice, it certainly wasn't unpleasant. In these days of slim TVs it's always nice to discover a model that is capable of delivering a competent audio performance.
The P65VT65 includes Panasonic’s Hexa-Processing Engine, which promises a better image performance and a faster Smart TV platform. This certainly proved to be the case and from the EPG, to the Apps to the My Home Screen, the P65VT65 delivered a smooth and responsive performance. This year Panasonic have given their Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) a slight make-over and introduced a window showing the channel you are currently on, along with a choice of the guide itself, a list of the channel and a search feature. To access Panasonic's Smart TV system, you can either go straight to the Apps screen where the full suite can be uncovered or opt to go via the more personalised My Home Screen interface. The Apps screen includes access to the Web Browser, Media Player, Media Server, Main Menu and EPG, as well as the installed apps. The P65VT65 came pre-loaded with plenty of apps including iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Skype plus access to the likes of Netflix, SHOUTcast Radio and the BBC Sport app. If that’s not enough, you can visit the Viera Connect Market where a range of further games, VoD services and Social Networking apps can be downloaded.
As well as the new content and interface, Panasonic has also launched their new VIERA Remote 2 app. This latest version of their remote app is available for both iOS and Android and includes a redesigned interface and some new features such as access to the apps page. There is also Swipe & Share 2.0 which allows for easier sharing of content between devices and we really liked the new remote app, finding it well designed and easy to use. The app also includes the Smart Calibration function which allows full access to the calibration controls without calling up the user interface. This is great news because on Panasonic TVs not only do the menus time out too quickly but their presence at the bottom of the screen can affect the measurements very slightly. The Smart Calibration feature only works in conjunction with the Custom Mode but it does work really well, although it’s best used with larger tablets because on smaller devices and especially smartphones, the interface can get a bit fiddly. The Media Player and Media Server also worked flawlessly, connecting easily with our home network and a number of devices and providing extensive file support.
Basic SetupWe found that the THX Cinema mode performed the best, delivering a highly accurate greyscale and colour gamut, superb blacks, a gamma that tracked closest to 2.2 and a nice bright image. All we then needed to do was make sure the aspect ratio was set to 16:9 and set the brightness and contrast controls to best suit our viewing environment. As a general rule if a TV has a THX mode, we would always recommend using it unless you plan on getting a professional calibration. However the THX modes on the Panasonic plasmas turns off the Pixel Orbiter feature and some users have reported occasional image retention as a result.
The greyscale performance is shown on the left above and was excellent for an out-of-the-box setting, with many of the errors below the visible threshold. As is usual for a Panasonic plasma, there was a tiny excess of green in the RGB Balance graph and also a small deficit of blue, resulting in very minor discolouration on a greyscale pattern. The gamma curve was tracking close to our target of 2.2, although there were minor dips at 10 and 90 IRE. Overall though this was an excellent performance and we should be able to easily improve it with the two- and ten-point white balance controls. The colour gamut is shown on the CIE chart on the right above and it was also excellent, with all the colours close to their targets for Rec 709. There were some minor errors that needed adjusting, particularly for red and magenta, but this should be simple enough using the Colour Management System (CMS).
Calibrated ResultsFor the calibrated measurements we used the Professional mode and the same basic setup recommended for the THX Cinema mode but we also set the gamma to 2.4 and selected the Rec.709 colour gamut. We then used the white balance and CMS to accurately set the greyscale and colour gamut.
We started by using the two-point white balance control to get the greyscale more accurate and then we fine-tuned using the ten-point control which allowed us to individually adjust at 10 IRE, 20 IRE and so on. As the RGB Balance chart above shows, all three primary colours were now tracking in equal amounts and at the target of 100. As a result the DeltaEs (errors) were all less than 0.5 which, for want of a better word, was perfect. We also used the detailed gamma controls to get the curve to track our target of 2.2 exactly. Overall, this was an absolutely reference performance for both greyscale and gamma.
The first thing that you’ll notice on the CIE chart above is that white is now hitting its target of D65 exactly thanks to the reference greyscale. As a result of this, the accuracy of the secondary colours improved and it was just a case of fine tuning the overall colour performance. Since the CMS provides control of the luminance, saturation and hue of all three primary colours and all three secondary colours, this was relatively easy. We quickly had all the luminance measurements spot on and also adjusted the hue and saturation measurements until they were hitting their targets exactly. As with the greyscale, this was a absolutely reference colour gamut performance from the P65VT65.
Moving on the CIE tracking chart, we measured the primary and secondary colours at different saturation levels, rather than just the 100% level used in the previous CIE charts. The reason for these measurements is to check that the display is consistent at all saturation points because when watching normal content it won’t all be at 100% saturation but usually at a lower level. As you can see from the chart above, the P65VT65 tracked extremely well with all the colours at or very close to their targets. There was a slight undersaturation in red but this wasn't apparent in actual viewing material and overall this was an excellent performance.
Contrast and Black LevelsThe P65VT65 had seriously impressive blacks and after a suitable period of running in, we measured the black level at 0.002 cd/m2. As a comparison we measured our P60ZT65 at 0.001 cd/m2, so in terms of absolute blacks the ZT just sneaks it. The P65VT65 was also able to maintain highly effective shadow detail just above black, so these impressive numbers weren't being achieved simply by crushing the blacks in the image. The P65VT65 was also able to maintain equally impressive black levels even when measured on an ANSI checker board, as shown below, and as an aside the measurements also showed how consistent the P65VT65 was across its entire large screen.
However blacks aren’t everything of course and we found that when it came to brightness the P65VT65 reached 113 cd/m2, which is genuinely impressive for a screen of this size. In fact the P65VT65 was actually slightly brighter than the ZT65 we reviewed and delivered an amazing on/off contrast ratio of 56,750:1. When it came to the ANSI measurements we found that blacks remained superb, measuring at 0.004 cd/m2 consistently, but the brightness did drop off, measuring between 67 and 74 cd/m2. However the resulting ANSI contrast ratio was a superb 17,781:1 and this excellent dynamic range was easy to see when watching actual content.
Video ProcessingAs expected, the performance of the P65VT65 in the video processing tests was excellent, with the new Hexa-Processing Engine clearly providing benefits. The detail and resolution tests were all reproduced correctly, with the P65VT65 scaling the images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The Panasonic also scored very highly in the jaggies tests on both discs as well as performing very well on the diagonal interpolation test, with two of the three moving bars appearing smooth and only the bottom most extreme bar showing very slight jaggies. The P65VT65 had no problems correctly detecting both 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European) film cadence, as long as the Film Cadence Mode is turned on. The P65VT65 also performed well when displaying film material mixed with scrolling video text and correctly displayed the words without blurring or shredding.When it came to 1080i material the P65VT65 correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests provided 16:9 Overscan was set to off in the Screen settings.
The P65VT65 also showed very good scaling and filtering performance as well as extremely impressive resolution enhancement capabilities. When it came to 1080p24 content, the P65VT65 delivered incredibly smooth movement and even on the torturous moving wedge tests on the Spears and Munsil disc were reproduced with little sign of moire or flicker. This year Panasonic have upgraded the 1080p Pixel Direct mode to the new 1080p Pure Direct which is compatible with a YUV 4:4:4 1080p 30bit signal. There have been reports of the 1080p Pure Direct mode causing chroma aberrations but when sending a 4:4:4 signal to the P65VT65 using our pattern generator there was a slight improvement in colour reproduction, so we would still recommend turning it on when appropriate. The P65VT65 was comfortably capable of hitting reference white and, even more impressively, was able to show 1% black simultaneously. This resulted in a truly impressive dynamic range that delivered an excellent contrast ratio that was free of any clipping, which was evidenced by the six concentric squares in the white, red and green patterns on the Spears and Munsil test disc.
The P65VT65 includes the latest 3000Hz Focused Field Drive and overall the motion handling was quite superb. This was evidenced using the FPD Benchmark disc, where the full 1080 lines of resolution were clearly visible on the moving tests. The P65VT65 comes with Intelligent Frame Creation, which is a frame interpolation feature that offers a choice of Off/Min/Mid/Max. The Min setting had little to no affect in testing, with the motion just appearing slightly clearer on the FPD Benchmark disc with no obvious artefacts being introduced. With the Mid and Max settings the impact was much more pronounced and whilst you could use IFC in conjunction with fast paced and video based sporting material, it should never be used with film based content. For exactly the same reasons you need to ensure that the 24p Smooth Film function is also turned off when watching 24p material. The reality is that with Blu-ray content encoded at 24p, the P65VT65 didn't need any additional processing and the results looked spectacular.
We measured the input lag on the P65VT65 at 63ms without the Game mode engaged and with it on the number dropped to 42ms. This is comparable with measurements we have made on both the GT60 and ZT65 and, encouragingly, they are lower than last year. Interesting in 3D the input lag measure at 53ms with the Game mode off and on, which suggests that whatever processing is being bypassed in Game mode largely relates to the 2D picture. It seems the quad-core processing and Hexa Engine are being put to good use but there’s still a little room for improvement.
Whilst a lag of 42ms might be a little high for the serious gamer, it is certainly good enough for most people and when gaming we were never really aware of any lag.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 180W
- Calibrated – Professional Mode: 300W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 490W
Panasonic TX-P65VT65B Picture Quality 2DPanasonic's plasmas have been so good this year that we're beginning to run out of superlatives; there really hasn't been a better time to buy a plasma. If this is to be the technology's swan song then it's going in at number one with a bullet. The P65VT65 delivers some of the best and most enjoyable 2D pictures that we have seen to date and the large screen size undoubtedly helps with this. Regardless of what content you're watching, the reference greyscale and colour gamut create an accurate base on which to build the images. The excellent Hexa-Processing Engine means whatever you’re watching, be it standard or high definition, it will always be perfectly reproduced. On top of that the P65VT65 was capable of delivering some wonderfully detailed and noise-free images, especially when fed a 1080p/24 Blu-ray and at times the results were simply stunning. The 30,720 steps of gradation certainly paid dividends, resulting in images that were free of banding or related artefacts. Thanks to the 3000Hz Focused Field Drive, the motion handling was also superb, with smooth judder free movement and no smearing or blurring.
The biggest single factor in terms of the P65VT65’s picture quality is its dynamic range and whilst the P60ZT65 can still claim bragging rights, the VT65 isn't far behind. Although deep blacks are important, it’s actually the range between the blacks and the peak whites that give an image its impact. The wider the dynamic range, the better the perceived picture quality but it’s how well these two factors are combined within the same image that really matters. This is why the ANSI contrast ratio is so important because it shows the dynamic range within a scene rather than between them. The P65VT65's native backs, combined with its inherent brightness and the Infinite Black Ultra and High Contrast Filter Pro resulted in images that had a beautiful analogue look, along with incredible punch. Scene after scene just had the kind of visceral impact that only images with this level of dynamic range can deliver. Once you combined this with the accurate and detailed images and the fantastic motion handling, the results could be breath-taking. This performance was all the more impressive because of the larger screen size which, by its very nature, can be unforgiving and reveal any limitations in a panel's performance.
This year Panasonic seem to have addressed all the issues that have affected their plasmas in previous years and almost none were in evidence. Problems like floating blacks, brightness pops and green blobs can all be consigned to history, as can the 50Hz bug of which we saw no evidence. Screen uniformity was also excellent, as evidenced by the ANSI measurements and confirmed using full screen rasters. There were also no problems with image retention, line bleed or dirty screen effect. There was some very minor noise in parts of the picture just above black but these were impossible to see from any sensible viewing distance. In fact the only issue that we had the P65VT65's image was that very occasionally we saw some dynamic false contouring but this was extremely rare. We happened to be watching the final series of Spartacus when reviewing the P65VT65 and the TV perfectly rendered the show's stylised images. The colours popped off the screen, especially the copious amounts of blood, whilst flesh tones (of which there is also quite a lot) looked very accurate. The levels of detail evident in the digital photography meant that every hair or speck of dirt was easily visible.
Panasonic TX-P65VT65B Picture Quality 3DThe P65VT65 was equally impressive when it came to 3D, with the increased brightness, larger screen size and plasma's inherent advantages in this format really coming to the fore. The combination of the bright image, the big screen, the fantastic motion handling and the lack of crosstalk meant that the P65VT65 was capable of delivering a truly immersive 3D experience. The 3D pictures had real impact, depth and plenty of punch and the P65VT65 also handled motion superbly, with no judder or other artefacts to distract you. Thanks to the faster response time of plasma there was also no crosstalk, just a beautifully rendered 3D image. The glasses were also comfortably light and free of flicker and, thanks to the use of RF, synced easily and never lost the connection. The THX Cinema 3D setting was a reasonably accurate preset, although if you prefer a professional calibrator will be able to get a genuinely accurate 3D image. All of these factors combined to create a hugely enjoyable, comfortable and genuinely enveloping 3D experience.
We started off with Planet Dinosaur which was broadcast in side-by-side 3D by the BBC at Christmas and the P65VT65 delivered a bright and accurate image, with plenty of depth and not a hint of crosstalk. A recent spate of 3D Blu-ray purchases afforded us a chance to give the P65VT65 a thorough workout when it comes to frame sequential 3D and the results were superb. The wonderfully layered 3D images in Pixar's Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo looked incredible, with Nemo in particular really benefiting from the added dimensionality. The larger screen size of the P65VT65 meant you really felt as though you were under water with particles floating in front of you. For some live-action 3D material we tried the Aussie "shark loose in a supermarket" thriller Bait and recently filmed, if somewhat belated, sequel Texas Chainsaw. Whilst neither film was particularly good, that was hardly the P65VT65's fault and it did an admirable job of delivering all the 3D shocks with wonderful dimensionality and genuine effect.
- Superb images
- Reference black levels
- Incredible contrast ratio and dynamic range
- Lack of PWM noise and clean looking images
- Excellent out-of-the-box greyscale
- Reference greyscale after calibration
- Excellent out-of-the-box colour gamut
- Reference color gamut after calibration
- Reference level 3D performance
- Comprehensive calibration controls
- Superb motion handling
- Excellent video processing
- Built-in camera, WiFi, Freesat & Freeview
- Excellent Smart TV platform
- Highly effective remote app
- Well designed menus and remote control
- Attractive design and excellent build quality
- Minor instances DFC
- Stand doesn't swivel
- Fans might bother some
Panasonic TX-P65VT65B (VT65) Plasma TV Review
The P65VT65 has all the attractive looks, contemporary design and solid build quality we have come to expect from Panasonic and despite the big screen size it remains surprisingly sleek. Whilst it might not technically be the flagship this year, the P65VT65 has every feature you could possibly think of from built-in WiFi, Freeview and Freesat, to dual tuners, dual remotes and two pairs of 3D glasses. There's also a built-in camera, a touch pen, an excellent remote app and one of the best Smart TV platforms on the market. The sound quality was surprisingly good for a modern TV and our only minor complaint was that the cooling fans could be a little noisy. However we'd happily accept some fan noise in return for the increased brightness of this year's Panasonic plasmas.
The P65VT65 also has a comprehensive set of calibration controls, fantastic motion handling and superb video processing. The out-of-the-box settings were excellent whilst the post-calibrated images were of a reference standard, hitting all the industry standards precisely. The black levels, brightness and contrast ratios were all absolutely stunning, resulting in a beautifully analogue image that had real impact thanks to a stellar dynamic range. There were almost no instances of false contouring and combined with a clean and detailed image, the P65VT65 delivered 2D pictures were amongst the best we've seen. The 3D performance was also excellent, with a picture that was free of crosstalk and benefited from the larger screen size adding a greater sense on immersion.
The obvious question is how does the P65VT65 compare to the P60ZT65? We had an opportunity to compare the two models side by side and whilst we felt the ZT65's image was slightly better, the differences were so minor that we doubt most people would actually notice. The reality is that the P65VT65 can deliver fantastic pictures on a bigger screen for less money and that's a fairly compelling argument. Big really can be beautiful and there's no doubt that the Panasonic P65VT65 delivers the kind of gorgeous large screen images that put the 'cinema' in home cinema. With an irresistible combination of size, looks, features, value and sheer unadulterated performance, the P65VT65 knocks it out of the park and in doing so wins Panasonic yet another Reference Status badge.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £3,349.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level10
3D Picture Quality10
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
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