IFA 2013 - First Look at the Panasonic TX-65WT600 4K Ultra HD TV

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Have Panasonic saved the best for last with their record breaking WT600?

Panasonic may be late to the 4K party but it's arguable that they've saved the best until last. Their new WT600 65” 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV certainly has enough World's firsts to make even Guinness jealous and a feature set to die for. Some of Panasonic's thunder may have been stolen when news of the inclusion of HDMI 2.0 leaked prior to their press conference but the Japanese manufacturer still had plenty of aces up its sleeve.

The WT600 uses a 65” 4K or Ultra HD panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160, which is nothing new but it's the first UHD TV in Europe to receive a much coveted ‘THX 4K Display' certification badge. THX were on hand to explain the rigorous testing process involved in achieving the coveted certification - including 30 test categories, 600 tests and 1,000 data points. As always when it comes to THX certification, the aim is to create a TV that matches the industry standards as closely as possible and thus remain true to the creator's vision.

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The ‘THX 4K Display' may have been a European first but Panasonic WT600 had a number of World's firsts to its name as well. Although it had been leaked prior to IFA, the WT600 is the first UHD TV to include the new HDMI 2.0 connector, which means it can receive 4K at 50/60Hz, as opposed to the existing UHD TVs that use HDMI 1.4 and are capped at 4K at 30Hz. Whilst the new HDMI standard is still in flux and there's a chance the ultimate 4K broadcast standard could be 100/120Hz, Panasonic feel that this can be addressed with a new firmware update.

The next World's first is the inclusion of DisplayPort 1.2a which will allow PC gamers to enjoy 4K gaming on the WT600. The inclusion of both an HDMI 2.0 input and a DisplayPort 1.2a input on the WT600 certainly gives the display an edge over much of the competition, who are currently looking at various upgrade paths for their existing UHD TVs. Of course, the WT600 also includes three additional HDMI 1.4 inputs for all your other content sources.

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The final World's first is the inclusion of a built-in 4K H.264 (MPEG4) decoder, which not only enables the playback of 4K video files via USB and SD card, but – even more importantly – it enables the playback of 4K content directly from the internet. As a result, the WT600 includes both a 4K Web Browser and a 4K Online Player. Other 4K specific features include the ability to access your photos either via an SD card with the 4K Photo Viewer SD, or using 4K Swipe & Share to wirelessly transfer photos from your mobile phone or tablet in Ultra HD resolution. The inclusion of H.264 decoding might be a first but it debatable how useful it will ultimately be when H.265 (HEVC) will most likely be the compression standard for 4K Ultra HD.

The WT600 uses Panasonic's new 4K Hexa-Processing Engine which is designed to maximises the image quality for content created with resolution lower than 4K. The circuit processing technology produces images with higher definition by interpolating the missing parts of the images and re-producing the non-existent data, bringing them to a level of quality that approaches 4K sources. It does this using pattern recognition algorithms to compare the images against a database of 120,000 patterns.

In terms of more general features the WT600 uses edge LED backlighting, includes active shutter 3D and has all the attractive styling that we would expect from Panasonic. It also features Panasonic's excellent My HomePage Smart TV platform, extensive connectivity and ISF certified calibration controls. Speaking of calibration, the THX mode will still be using the current colour space standard of Rec709 and, despite the inclusion of HDMI 2.0. it is debatable whether the WT600 could meet the wider colour spaces (DCI, Rec2020) that may be part of some future UHD standard.

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We had a chance to watch some footage on the WT600 and when it came to 4K content the results were spectacular, with incredibly detailed and natural looking images. Despite the use of edge LEDs, the backlighting was pleasingly uniform and the images appeared free of any banding or bright corners. The motion handling was very impressive for a LCD panel and a demonstration of the same 4K football footage shown at 30Hz and 60Hz, clearly revealed how the increased temporal resolution improved the picture quality.

The Panasonic TX-65WT600 is an impressive entry in the growing list of UHD TVs currently available and it offers an enticing combination of features, performance and future-proofing. However at a list price of £5,500 it is going to find the market place extremely competitive, especially with manufacturers such as Philips offering a 65” 4K Ultra HD TV for only £4,500. Expect the price cutting to continue in the run-up to Christmas.
 
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Simba

Distinguished Member
Edge LED Backlighting on a 65"er.... hmmmm
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
It'd be funny if all that THX certification sloblock still resulted in the usual LED backlighting issues. What you guys saw and what will end up being mass-produced will likely be somewhat different...
 

vism

Well-known Member
It's good to know the HDMI spec is still in flux and that p120 may still be supported, that's a requirement for me.
I want a new amp and player and I'm not buying anything that can't do p120.

Not sure how they'll fit it into 18Gbps though.
 

IvorB

Active Member
This is the first 4K TV that's got me a little hyped. Because I know Panasonic won't screw around when it comes to maintaining image quality on top of the high resolution. I'm still holding out for 4K + OLED before I make the switch.
 

vism

Well-known Member
Despite being a third time Panasonic owner, I have no love of the company and don't feel they try hard enough.

Can't wait to try a Sony OLED.
 

RPM40INSTRUCTOR

Active Member
I used to be a Sony fanboy when they still make their own Trinitron CRT TV's but have had five Panasonic Plasma's since 2005 as it is a superior technology to LED LCD which Sony chose to produce instead. When you choose to buy a Sony OLED TV you will also be owning a Panasonic TV as they are working together.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Actually Sony and Panasonic are no longer working together, a situation that Panasonic were keen to stress at IFA. In fact Panasonic went as far to say that their 2nd generation 4K OLED was 100% Panasonic, with no Sony technology in it.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
I got the impression they were aiming for IFA 2014, so fingers crossed.
 

RPM40INSTRUCTOR

Active Member
Does this mean they have cracked the manufacturing problems inherant with OLED production? Are we still looking at a price of £10000 for say a 56" screen size?
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
I really don't know at this point, only time will tell but Panasonic have a different production process (printing) that they claim solves a lot of the yield problems.
 

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