What is the Panasonic TX-P65VT65B?
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 Design
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 180W
- Calibrated – Professional Mode: 300W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 490W
Panasonic TX-P65VT65B Picture Quality 2D
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 3D
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.
3D Picture Quality
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Value for Money
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
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