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Panasonic TH-65 PX 600 E 65″Plasma Review

Panasonic TH-65 PX 600 E 65 inch Plasma Review

What Hooked Us:

  • Deep black, and contrast-rich picture. Science-fiction films look terrific.
  • Even a set-top antenna can be used to pick up digital TV through the built-in DVB-T receiver.
  • The ease of use of both menu and remote control makes a pleasant impression.
  • Digital photos are rendered with maximum sharpness, thanks to an SD card reader and HD JPEG support.

Why We Grumbled:

  • Something missing – sadly, picture cropping is often apparent.
  • A bit of a judder? The set cannot display Blu-ray content in the original 24Hz format.

The Final Verdict:

To call this simply a TV is a massive understatement. Thanks to its enormous size, the Panasonic is a true alternative to a living room projector screen, even though the brightness is not quite enough for very sunny rooms. With its full HD resolution and quality electronics, HDTV signals look breathtakingly realistic. Besides ample space in your living room, the most important requirement is an absolutely colossal bank balance.

With a 65″ screen diagonal, the TH-65 PX 600 E is poaching in projection-TV territory. Even fans of actual video projectors might start to wonder if this could be an alternative. The reduced weight advantage that is generally associated with flat-screens is not relevant here – at 110 kg, this TV weighs around the same as two catwalk models put together. Panasonic is, in any case, the only manufacturer to offer a plasma of this caliber.

Technology

“Full HD” Resolution:
A plasma TV with “Full HD” resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) is actually not as common as it may seem. The reason is due to the fact that these screens are self-illuminating (unlike backlit LCDs). Every pixel is a tiny chamber filled with an inert gas, and lined with phosphors that emit red, green and blue light, as in a conventional tube television.

An electrical impulse transmogrifies the gas to a plasma state, which excites the phosphor coating into emitting the light that we actually see. In this sense, each pixel acts in roughly the same way as a fluorescent light bulb, but whose color can be varied by modulating the electrical impulse reaching that pixel.

The more pixels that are then placed on the same surface, the smaller and darker they must be (assuming identical technology). It was not until early 2007 that plasma manufacturers, armed with new phosphor mixtures and other technological improvements, were in the position to offer full HD screens that were as bright as their lower-resolution predecessors (typically 1024 x 768 or 1080 x 1080 pixels).

Power Consumption:
No need to worry about power consumption – at maximum brightness, the TH-65 PX 600 E does use the full 720 Watts quoted on the rating plate. With ideal picture settings (see below) and with normal TV or DVD pictures, this settles down to a more modest 310 Watts, a good value for a device of this size, and not actually much more than a home projector.

Feature

On a colossus like this, a good feature set comes as standard:
The built-in receiver accepts both analog cable and digital terrestrial (DVB-T) signals, and subscription cards from various pay-TV channels are supported by the so-called “Common Interface” (CI) slot. However, the TV only has one antenna connection, meaning you cannot use both types of reception concurrently.

For the typical home device list, the Panasonic’s veritable arsenal of connectivity is more than sufficient: Three Scart sockets (two of which are RGB and S-Video capable), a YUV input and a front-mounted camcorder connection.

With three HDMI inputs, the Panasonic is thoroughly up-to-date, and input number 3 has been thoughtfully placed next to the usual front-mounted inputs. This enables you to easily view photos or video from current high resolution camcorders and digital cameras fitted with an HDMI output. There is also an analog VGA input for computer operation.

Scart Sockets and “Consumer Electronics Control” (CEC):
Scart sockets 2 and 3 allow “Link” compatible devices to match their channel lists to that of the TV for recording – provided that both TV and video recorder are receiving their signal from analog cable.

When players are connected to the Panasonic via HDMI, a system called “Consumer Electronics Control” (CEC) allows you to control the main functions of the external devices with the TV’s own remote control. This process is further streamlined (even allowing programming of recordings) if using current “Viera Link” compatible Panasonic devices.

Integrated SD Card Slot:
Digital photographers will love the integrated SD card slot through which photos are shown at maximum resolution. Many older HD capable devices only allow you to display memory card content at up to DVD resolution, which obviously leads to a huge reduction in detail.

Loudspeakers and Pedestal:
The manual does not match up with reality – the factory supplied loudspeakers and pedestal are different from the ones described.

Operation

First Time Operation:
When switching the set on for the first time it simply asks what menu language you prefer and the country in which the TV is located, before it automatically gets on with the channel search.

On-Screen Menu:
The screen menus look very basic, and borrow heavily from the early 1980s Teletext style, but none of this harms the functionality. The menus are clearly structured into various groups of functions, and navigation using the remote control is intuitive.

Remote Control and Channel Changing:
The remote also makes a decent enough impression – all the main buttons are easy to find, but the handset itself is a touch too long and therefore awkward to hold. This giant is actually rather sluggish to react to commands from the remote control, and the picture format, for example, changes rather hesitantly. At 1.8 seconds, the time to change channels is really quite long.

Panasonic TH-65 PX 600 E - Remote Control

Electronic Program Guide:
The Electronic Program Guide (EPG) is rather frugal for digital TV, showing only information about the current and next programs.

TV and DVD Picture Quality

TV Picture Quality:
The Panasonic deserves real praise for its absolutely superlative reproduction of TV pictures. The picture is rich in detail and never overstated. Picture errors such as noise, trailing and stepping effects on slanted lines are very rare and ever so slight, despite the massive screen size. Dark areas are cleanly displayed, something very few competitors get right. Fast – and slow – movements are clearly rendered and never blurry.

Thanks to the large picture and combined pixels’ illumination, the Panasonic puts out 200 Candela/m2 in “Dynamic” mode, which makes it easily bright enough for daytime viewing.  Compared to LCD sets, however, it looks a tad weak with large pale colored objects (winter sports broadcasts are a good example).

DVD Picture Quality:
The TH-65 PX 600 E also displays DVDs highly competently. With the correct settings (see below) the plasma conjures up a homogenous and atmospheric picture on the screen, even with a modest Scart signal. The signal processing does not, however, manage to tease all possible details from the analog signal inputs, but then avoids signal over-processing to compensate, so the image still looks natural.

Significantly more detail is displayed on the TH-65 PX 600 E with digital playback via HDMI. Because the built in video processing of the Panasonic often shows unpleasant jagged edges when displaying interlaced content, a DVD player with a good de-interlacer, such as the Denon 3930, for example, can make for an even cleaner result.

The colors are deeply convincing – both black-and-white recordings and wildly colorful pictures like those in “Monsters Inc.” are faithfully reproduced. The very slight green cast is only noticeable when comparing the Panasonic to a color-neutral studio monitor. The Panasonic effectively eliminates picture defects that were common to earlier plasma TVs – color gradients are smoothly rendered and there are no false contours or flickering color mattes.

With a maximum Full-On/Full-Off contrast of around 1,600:1, this plasma still cannot compete with the perfect black of a tube television, but the fine detail resolution and tangibility of dark scenes, e.g. the night time golf game in “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, are considerably better than any of the LCDs we have seen. Structures such as the dark field are perfectly reproduced without a sliver of detail being lost.

HDTV Picture Quality

The TH-65 PX 600 E combines a big picture with full HD resolution – on paper, these are the fundamental requirements for an impressive HD experience. The Blu-ray disc “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” – played on the Panasonic DMP-BD 10 Blu-ray player – is satisfying on the screen, with an enormous amount of detail. The James Bond reminiscent opening sequence in cartoon collage design is reproduced by the Panasonic with a gripping, movie-like impression at a viewing distance of just 1.5 meters.

Detail resolution and crispness could actually be higher though – test pictures from our HDMI video generator in the test lab showed that although the Panasonic displays very fine details, they are slightly dampened. This may be a consequence of overscan, which cannot be turned off. Even though Blu-ray discs (and HDTV broadcasts) output images already in the panel’s native resolution, the TH-65 PX 600 E rescales them before they are reproduced on the screen.

It is irritating that a TV in this price class, like many other HD TVs, cannot display 24p signals at the correct frame rate. Blu-ray discs cannot therefore simulate that movie theater look, and feature films judder slightly. Our verdict: A near miss for HDTV perfection. One positive consolation: The quality is identical irrespective whether the format is 1080i or 1080p, 50 or 60 Hz.

Computer Operation and Sound Quality

Computer Operation:
As a large screen PC monitor, the TH-65 PX 600 E is hardly very useful. Analog PC signals are accepted via the VGA input at resolutions up to 1280 x 1024 pixels. Resolutions in 16:9 format are not an option, but digital playback of videos or photos at 1920 x 1080 pixels looks just as appetizing as Blu-ray playback. Text is not very legible, however, which is due again to the overscan and picture rescaling, which cannot be turned off. The TH-65 PX 600 E is not that good for writing purposes or for reading internet pages.

Sound Quality:
The sound from the side-mounted speakers easily surpasses that of many other flat-screen TVs. The separate speaker columns also shine, with clear speech reproduction, high maximum volume and spacious, full musical renditions. The slight hum of the cooling fans is only apparent in absolute silence.

Settings for the best home-theatre performance*

Viewing Mode: Cinema

Contrast: 10.5 cm

Brightness: 10.8 cm

Color: 10.3 cm

Sharpness: 6.5 cm

Color Balance: Warm (6,800 K)

Other Settings:

Color Management: Off

MPEG NR: Off

Mosquito NR: Off

Power Save: Off

* applied to realistic playback from HD DVD/Blu-ray material through the HDMI interface in a darkened environment. Manufacturing and HDMI playback device deviations may necessitate slight adjustment. The centimeter (cm) setting refers to the length of the bar that appears in the menu.

Full Specifications

Video Features

  • Input Video Formats : 576i/p, 720p, 1080i/p/24p

Dimensions & Weight Details

  • Dimensions & Weight Details : Panel with stand – 155.44 cm x 14.47 cm x 98.55 cm x 110 kg

Digital TV Tuner

  • Digital TV Tuner : analog, DVB-T

Test Lab Data

  • Color neutrality : 8
  • Motion-errors : very good
  • Picture-quality with DVDs : very good
  • Picture-quality with HD-Signals : very good
  • Black level : 0.04 cd/m2
  • Homogenity of picture : 93%
  • Televisions.com rating : 7.2
  • Brightness – maximum : 65.3 cd/m2
  • Contrast – maximum : 1633:1
  • Brightness – average : 49.6 cd/m2
  • Contrast – ANSI : 395:1
  • Linearity errors on greyscale : 1.41%

Connections

  • S-Video : 3
  • HDMI : 3
  • VGA : 1

General

  • Video Interface : HDMI, Scart, Component, VGA, S-Video, Composite
  • Product Type : 65″ Plasma TV
  • Width : 155.44 cm
  • Weight : 110 kg
  • Depth : 14.47 cm
  • Height : 98.55 cm

Power

  • Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep : 0.1 Watt
  • Power Consumption Operational : 310 Watt

Display

  • Image Aspect Ratio : 16:9
  • Resolution : 1920×1080
  • Brightness : 65.3 cd/m2
  • Diagonal Size : 65″ – widescreen
  • Image Contrast Ratio : 1633:1

Connections

  • Composite video : 4
  • YUV : 1

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