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Panasonic TH-65 VX 100 65″Plasma Review

Panasonic TH-65 VX 100 65 inch Plasma Review

What We Hooked:

 

  • Natural picture.
  • Accurate colors.
  • High maximum and ANSI contrasts.
  • Excellent video processing and authentic 24p

Why We Grumbled:

  • Doesn’t accept HDMI-576i.
  • No 4:3 format for HD signals.
  • Limited contrast in bright environments.
  • Extended color space (and which cannot be adjusted).

The Final Verdict:

This professional-series plasma from Panasonic isn’t quite perfect: The picture looks weak in daylight conditions; red and green tones are slightly over-exaggerated; and the display will not accept HDMI-576i signals. Nevertheless, the massive, contrast-rich, and highly cinematic picture is truly spellbinding – the Panasonic’s output easily measures up to the best TVs on the market. This is currently the best display of its size class.

Operation

Panasonic has been the king of user-friendliness for a long time. The new TH-65 VX 100 is no exception: Operation is problem-free and straightforward, and the menu gives easy access to picture modes, inputs, and stored settings. A handy signal indicator informs the user of the current resolution and frame rate, as well as the horizontal and vertical video frequencies. This is way more than you get from normal flat-panel TVs.

Panasonic TH-65 VX 100 Remote Control

The slender, black remote control offers direct access to important functions, and some buttons are backlit for the dark home-theater.

Features

Connections:

Panasonic TH-65 VX 100 HDMI Inputs

This plasma is designed purely to display pictures – big pictures! It therefore has neither a TV tuner nor built-in speakers. The rear of the display accepts slot-in connectivity modules, so that you can adapt the display to suit various applications.

As standard, these slots come filled with two HDMI modules, each hosting two HDMI inputs, as well as a single-input YUV module and a PC module with a VGA input. The PC module also offers an RS-232C serial port, allowing remote control of the display’s functions from a PC, for example, for ultimate home-theater integration. It also means commercial users can use the display in public-display installations.

No speakers included:
No speakers ship with the display, but the Panasonic provides the relevant connections (pictured above) in case you decide to buy the optional speaker units. In any case, a TV of this size belongs in the home-theater, with a proper surround system in charge of sound.

Contrast and Gamma

In comparison to Panasonics Viera models, the professional displays put more emphasis on top contrast. The engineers reduced undesired pre-discharge emission using, among other techniques, improved triggering of the cells. This means less residual illumination in black pictures and, therefore, more contrast.

And it works: With a maximum contrast of over 6,000:1, this 65-inch monster belts out around 50 percent more contrast than any Panasonic plasma we’ve tested. It cannot, however, compete with Pioneer’s plasma-deities the PDP-LX 5090 H and the KRP-500 – the contrast and brightness on these two TVs easily beat those of the Panasonic, whose picture looks weak when viewed in daylight, since even slight ambient illumination is enough to brighten up the screen and steamroll the picture’s depth.

In a dark environment, on the other hand, the 65 VX 100 shows its full potential: Typical plasma artifacts, such as after-glowing ghost images, steps in color blends, or colored fringing, were only detected in test patterns and did not appear in movie pictures.

Two of the gamma settings are suitable for home-theater: In the factory setup, the display is set to a gamma value of “2.2”, which actually corresponds to a measured value of 2.35. This setting produces an excellent picture impression. Thanks to the Panasonic’s high contrast, the “2.6” gamma setting also looks great: The compression artifacts that you’d normally see in dark areas of the picture are less conspicuous, and the picture looks more cinematic overall. The higher setting does, however, harm the color fidelity: Grayscales look warmer, measuring a color temperature of 5,800 Kelvin, and show slight discoloration.

Colors

One of our favorite test discs is the recent James Bond movie “Casino Royale”, an excellently mastered Blu-ray with varied imagery. Many TVs stumble in the black-and-white opening sequence, since they cannot display the grayscales without introducing coloration. The Panasonic is different, and displays the fine gray blends neutrally and almost completely without stepped shading.

Panasonic TH-65 VX 100 CIE Chart

The Panasonic’s CIE diagram shows an almost perfect color temperature.

The factory setup produces a color temperature of 6,100 Kelvin – very close to the studio standard, 6,500 Kelvin. The controls in the Panasonic’s menu mean that, using a colorimeter, it’s possible to set the color temperature precisely to the correct value. Nevertheless, in the factory setup, skin tones look convincing – one of the fundamental requirements for genuine movie enjoyment.

The display only over-exaggerates saturated colors, making reds and greens look more intense than in the original. The extended color space is at fault here, and a lack of the relevant controls means the user cannot correct the preprogrammed color-spaces – this is one area where Panasonic has room for improvement. High-end TVs from Samsung and Pioneer, for example, do offer these adjustment options.

Power Consumption

The two presets intended for home-theater usage both produce a neutral picture, but “Cinema” is optimized for maximum contrast, while “Monitor” aims for minimum wear-out and optimal power consumption. With movie pictures, we measured power consumptions of 165 watts in the “Monitor” preset and 380 watts in “Cinema” (with contrast set to maximum).

These are totally respectable values, and prove that Panasonic has put the effort into improving efficiency – the manufacturer’s TH-50 PZ 80 E drew almost exactly the same amount of power for a screen of just 50 inches.

Panasonic TH-65 VX 100 Heat Production

This thermograph shows how much heat the display emits. The 65 VX 100 (on the left) has a much cooler surface than the TH-42 PZ 800 E on the right, thanks to six cooling fans.

HDTV Picture Quality

The display is on top form with Blu-ray, producing crisp, detail-rich pictures – the sheer size helped, since we were able to make out even tiny details without having to get up close to the screen. The video processing retains even the finest details in the all-important HD formats 60i/60p and 24p. Small weaknesses only appeared in a checkerboard test pattern with one-pixel sized black and white squares. The Panasonic shows slight discoloration and instability in this – admittedly very tricky – pattern, regardless of whether it arrives as a 60i or 60p signal. In practice, however, there’s no sign of these problems.

Via both VGA and HDMI, PC signals appear on the Panasonic with precise pixel-mapping and clear legibility. De-interlacing of images in 60i format works without problems; you can see this clearly in Chapter 4 of “Casino Royale”: TVs with inaccurate de-interlacing show flicker on the details of the sea-plane, but the Panasonic’s picture is immaculate. Documentaries filmed in 1080i, such as “Antarctica Dreaming”, reproduce accurately.

24p playback works excellently – the animated playing-card symbols in the opening titles of “Casino Royale” glide across the screen with no pulldown judder. Dedicated movie fans can activate the 50-hertz mode in the “Signal” submenu, whereby the picture displays at 48 hertz with flicker, just like in the movie theater – motion appears a touch sharper in this mode.

There were, however, a few furrowed brows among the testers when we tried inputting 4:3 signals via HDMI: Though there is a corresponding picture-format setting, this continues to display the signal as a 16:9-format picture and simply cuts off the right and left sides of the picture, replacing them with black bars. Therefore, with DVD players or set-top boxes that have no format-switching on their HDMI output, the display will produce a distorted and unusable picture.

TV and DVD Picture Quality

The 65-incher derives a first-class picture from standard-resolution (YUV-576i) DVD signals. It even allows the user to deactivate overscan – very few TVs can do this with standard-definition material. Both the brightness and color signals reach the screen with extremely precise details, to whatever extent they are even present in the original. The video processing combines interlaced video into clean progressive pictures. Even scenes that have proven tricky in the past, such as the picket fence in Chapter 8 of “Space Cowboys”, display with no line-flicker. Panasonic’s Viera models, on the other hand, occasionally trip up here and show irritating, flickering images.

Inputting signals digitally via HDMI also produces excellent results, although the display will not accept standard PAL-format (576i) signals through this input – we evaluated the reproduction of 576p signals instead. The 576p picture via HDMI is accurate and shows no nasty false edges, but – despite excellent detail resolution – looks slightly softer than via YUV. In the visual test with various DVDs, the picture showed grandiose depth and high motion clarity.

Since the plasma largely maintains its picture quality when viewed from one side, even viewers sitting way off-center can still enjoy an almost three-dimensional impression of depth. Camera pans across contrast-rich, dark images are free of blur – LCD competitors still have plenty of problems in this respect. Picture purists can switch the display to the 50-hertz mode, in which the picture flickers, but fast-moving objects appear without the double edges and ghosting that you see at 100 hertz.

Ideal Settings

Picture Mode: Cinema

Contrast: Maximum

Brightness: 3

Color: 0

Sharpness: 0

White Balance: Warm

Color Management: Off

Input Level: 0

Gamma: 2.2

AGC: Off

Black Extension: 0

1:1 Pixel Mode: On

“W/B” Adjustment: all controls set to 0

* These settings apply to realistic playback of HDTV/Blu-ray material through the HDMI interface in a darkened environment. Manufacturing and HDMI playback device deviations could necessitate slight adjustment.

How do Panasonic’s pro displays differ from ordinary ‘Viera’ models?

In contrast to the pro displays, Panasonic’s ‘Viera’ plasmas are aimed at normal-sized living rooms and smaller home-theaters. Both branches are based on the same technology, but the pro displays produce higher contrast and better de-interlacing. This is thanks to various fine-tuning measures, such as carefully selected panels, optimized cell triggering, and improved video processing – all of which lead, of course, to a higher price. There are also significant differences in the menus: With continuously variable picture-cropping, color balance, and gamma settings, professional models offer more adjustment possibilities.

Furthermore, the series differ in connectivity, with the pro models using a modular construction: The customer chooses the desired connections from a wide range of modules that slot into the display. There are, for example, modules for the popular studio connection SDI/HD-SDI, as well as for all varieties of digital and analog video connections, and even a WLAN module, which allows wireless video transmission from a PC. The VGA and YUV connections are versatile and accept various color formats (RGB/YUV), as well as – in the case of VGA – different synchronization standards.

There are also optional speakers, a range of mounting accessories, and a touch-screen add-on. You can find further information on the numerous available models and modules on the professional plasma section of the manufacturer’s website.

Full Specifications

Video Features

  • Input Video Formats : 576i/p, 480i/p, 1080i/p, 720p

Connections

  • HDMI : 4

Display

  • Image Contrast Ratio : 60000:1
  • Diagonal Size : 65″ – widescreen
  • Resolution : 1920×1080
  • Image Aspect Ratio : 16:9

Power

  • Power Consumption Operational : 710 Watt
  • Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep : 0.4 Watt

General

  • Width : 155.4 cm
  • Weight : 86 kg
  • Height : 92.4 cm
  • Depth : 9.4 cm

Dimensions & Weight Details

 

  • Dimensions & Weight Details : Panel with stand – 155.4 cm x 41.9 cm x 100.6 cm x 86 kg

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