What is the Panasonic TX-L55DT65?
Styling and Connections
As stated above, the DT65 comes with two remote controls – one standard and another that’s rather smart. When we say ‘standard’ the DT65’s conventional remote is hewn of extremely shiny plastic so it should be easy to locate around the living room. Besides the flashy colour scheme, the remote is of a very familiar layout but includes new prominent buttons for Home and Apps, which will give you some indication on how Panasonic wants you to go about the DT65’s use; with an emphasis on personalisation and ease of operations. The new Touch Pad controller is very similar to last years, which we liked, but now includes a ‘trigger’ to the rear, so we like it even more. It’s actually a very good design choice, making the Touch Pad much easier to use one-handed; whereas previously you were required to enter in to a spot of thumb gymnastics to keep the experience smooth when wanting to verify a selection. That’s a long way of saying it acts as an Enter/OK button and does so very well. As the name would suggest, the Smart 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 we’ll take a look at in our dedicated Smart Viera platform review once we’ve finished testing the DT65 but, all in all, the new Touch Pad is very good.
Menus and Features
Moving in to the Menus ‘proper’ and the basic look of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) 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 submenus, Picture, Sound, Network, Timer, Set and a new Help section which, amongst other things, includes an ‘eHELP’ interactive menu, which like similar iManuals we’ve seen from other manufacturers, provides excellent assistance to more novice users, although we’d imagine the user-friendly nature of most of the menus shouldn’t require much in the way of explanation.
There are also some new for 2013 options including 'Adaptive Gamma Control’, ‘Black Expander’ and ‘Clear White Effect’. Also in the DT65 we have Ambient Sensor, Noise Reduction, MPEG Noise Reduction, Caption Smoother, MPEG Remaster, Resolution Remaster, Brilliance Enhancer and Intelligent Frame Creation - Panasonic’s motion interpolating system. A further submenu named ‘Option Settings’ allows for switching on of the Game Mode, a 1080p pixel direct mode and the engaging of the Film Cadence Mode, all of which will be tested later on. 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.
There are a number of 3D settings available. Users can manually alter the ‘strength’ of the 2D>3D conversion mode (Min/Mid/Max) but it is only selectable once enabled in the next option down, 3D Adjustment. Just below the 3D Adjustment option you can select to alter the Picture Sequence if you feel, and we quote the manual, ‘that the sense of depth is unusual’. There’s an Edge Smoother option too that we’ll check out later on and the 3D Detection can be set to Off, On or On Advance. The Off setting speaks for itself, whereas On detects particular 3D signals (Frame Sequential, SBS etc) and displays them automatically and On Advance detects all 3D signals and shows them without any notification or user intervention necessary. Finally there’s the choice of being able to swap the left and right frames of the 3D image over for those feeling any discomfort.
Basic SetupAs it transpires, the out-of-the-box performance in the DT65’s most accurate picture modes produced near identical results and as they feature the same extensive calibration controls we had the choice between using Custom or either of the Professional pre-sets. Having used some basic patterns to set Backlight, Contrast and Brightness we were presented with the following results:
Calibrated ResultsPanasonic’s new Viera Remote App 2 allows full access to the necessary adjustments and has the great benefit of not calling up the user interface which is an annoying trait of the Panasonic’s on two fronts: a) the menus time out too quickly and you’re often left measuring them and b) even their presence at the bottom of the screen affect measurements, albeit only slightly. We are going somewhere with this – we found the Viera Remote App 2 only works in conjunction with the Custom Mode so that’s what we used both for convenience (mostly) and, well, just for the novelty value. The app mostly works really well but it’s definitely one for circa 10-inch tablets (we tried with an iPad 4 and Nexus 7) as otherwise it’s a touch fiddly to move some of the sliders. With that mini-review within a review done, on to the results.
Contrast, Black Levels and Screen UniformityOne of the first things we did with the DT65 was to turn the Backlight down. Even in its more accurate modes, this TV is defaulted to delivering mega-bright images, which impacts negatively on the black levels. We set the 55DT65 to achieve a peak white output of around 120 cd/m2, which gave a full-screen black reading of 0.11cd/m2, which is OK, if not great. A more revealing measurement is derived using mixed content and, using an ANSI Checkerboard pattern the DT65 produced averaged black levels of 0.1 cd/m2 against an average peak white of 102 cd/m2 giving an ANSI contrast ratio just shy of 1000:1 which, again, is respectable if not earth-shattering.
Video ProcessingPanasonic’s video processing continues to improve year on year and the DT65 fair flew through most of our usual barrage of testing. It proved an excellent scaler of standard definition signals with clear and crisp reproduction of even the finer details (where present), without any rough-around-the-edges ringing. For those that still have a large DVD collection but no upscaling player, the good news continues as the DT65 had no issues in identifying progressively shot film material sent in an interlaced signal, meaning as clean a representation of your old movies as you could reasonably hope for. Video deinterlacing was also impressive with few jagged edges showing up our rotating bar patterns. As we would hope from a (near) flagship TV – actually we expect it of all HDTVs now - the Panasonic TX-L55D65B had no issues with frame skipping or any other unexpected unpleasantness with Blu-ray disc based material at 1080p24.
Gaming PerformanceWe’re glad to see that the DT65’s processing speed has been put to good use so it’s able to cope with the always connected demands of a modern day TV whilst delivering a very responsive gaming experience. Although we wouldn’t recommend it for the sake of your eyes, using the Dynamic Viewing Mode with the Game Mode option selected in the Options Menu saw numbers as low as 34 milliseconds. But what’s 4 milliseconds between friends? And we got consistent numbers in the 37-38 millisecond range using the Professional Modes, which puts well up there as one of the best top-tier sets for gamers. Interestingly, removing the advanced calibration changes from the Pro and Custom modes reduced lag by a couple of milliseconds, suggesting the settings are stored somewhere in the internal memory slightly less accessible to the processor than the defaults.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 112.2W
- Calibrated – Custom Mode: 56.9W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 81.4W
Panasonic TX-L55DT65 Picture Quality 2D
Elsewhere, the Panasonic DT65 largely delivers on the promise provided by its superbly accurate colour palette and neutral greyscale to produce some very convincing pictures that really came to life on the 55-inch panel. Over the Easter break we finally got to watch the full presentation of the Bourne Legacy, which gives a nice test of colours but also provides a good way to assess black levels and shadow detailing. Whilst the DT65 came up trumps on the former with scenes retaining a life-like appearance and excellent skin-tones, it didn’t fare so well with the darker content. The Adaptive Backlight Control does initially seem to remedy the rather average contrast levels but it does so at the cost of detail and gives an uneven spread of luminance across the image – typically raising the brighter elements of the picture to unnatural levels; and that’s in both Min and Max settings, although it’s worse on Max. We did wonder whether the wonderfully named, ‘Brilliance Enhancer’ control would act as some kind of finer control but it turned out to be nothing more than a selective colour brightness modifier and rendered totally unnecessary by calibration.
Besides the accuracy of the colours, the strongest cards in the DT65’s hand are its generous viewing angles that retain fidelity – albeit with contrast taking a hit – at quite acute positions and its effectiveness in bright living room environments where the ambient light filter shows its mettle, although the screen is very reflective so it’s best not positioned directly facing a light source such as a window or glass door. The DT65 will undoubtedly make a very attractive addition to most living rooms but if you’re serious about your movies, we’d strongly advise waiting to see what Panasonic’s 2013 Plasma range brings to the table.
Panasonic TX-L55DT65 Picture Quality 3D
- Impressively accurate colours
- Smashing design
- My Home Screen is great
- Oodles of Smart features
- Generous viewing angles
- 3D is excellent
- Viera Remote App 2 works extremely well
- Good in a bright room
- Contrast isn't very strong in more ideal viewing environments
- Some stuttering with motion occasionally
- Only 3 HDMI inputs
- Not really any better than the ET60 for picture quality
Panasonic TX-L55DT65 (DT65) TV Review
A warm welcome awaits new users in the shape of the new My Home Screen which provides the dual benefits of almost infinite customisability with refined navigation, thanks to some clever design choices. The new Panasonic options menus are more sprawling than in previous years and there’s a lot more by ways of unnecessary picture controls but we’re not complaining too vociferously given the inclusion of a fabulous suite of calibration options therein.
The above said controls helped us produce a supremely accurate colour palette from the DT65, not that it was too shabby in its most faithful out-of-the-box viewing modes. The calibrated images when married with a much improved contrast performance - achieved by significantly lowering the eye-searing default light output – helped the DT65 deliver pictures of genuine plausibility which maintained colour fidelity, even at challenging viewing angles. Less impressive were the native black levels and implementation of ‘local’ dimming techniques, with the latter not really working at all. The DT65 is undoubtedly best employed in a brighter living room environment where the full splendour of its design can be shown with maximum impact.
It’s perhaps with 3D where the DT65 shines brightest; almost literally as its prodigious capacity for knocking out super-bright, but believable, pictures can have you forgetting you’re donning the 3D eyewear. Gamers with a taste for the finer things in life can also rejoice in the appearance of the DT65 which, with its sub 40 millisecond input latency makes it one of the snappiest flagship gaming TVs around. It’s good to see all that processing power put to good effect but that’s not at the expense of energy efficiency with the DT65 living up to its A+ billing in terms of electricity consumption.
Panasonic’s TX-L55DT65B is designed for the modern home and the contemporary lifestyle with a stunning design and an almost mind-boggling array of features, made highly accessible by Panasonic’s new user-friendly interface. The DT65 is hugely capable of throwing out vivid, yet accurate, images in both 2D and 3D which will suit brighter rooms more than a bat cave - and if that’s your flavour of viewing environment we’d recommend holding out for Panasonic’s 2013 plasma range. For everywhere else, it’s a simple Recommendation.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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