Panasonic TC-P65VT60 (TCP65VT60) Review

65" 3D Plasma HDTV Infinite Black Ultra, Viera Connect Smart TV

by , Senior Editor

Strengths

Panasonic TC-P65VT60
  • We have seen the best black levels in the market on this one (The Samsung F8500 is up there too)
  • The Ultra Filter works wonders with bright room light
  • After getting the 3D settings right, 3D performance is excellent
  • Built-in THX Picture Setting modes are great presets
  • The number of available apps and load times
  • Very fast internet connection over Wifi
  • Side Angle Viewing
  • Gaming Mode helps to cut input lag and make for a good experience

    Weaknesses

  • Not considered a value model by any means
  • 2D to 3D Conversion is hard to watch
  • Voice/Smart Interaction (facial recognition)
  • It's hard to find the extra value in the Touchpad remote
  • We would have like to see more HDMI inputs

    Neutral

  • On board speakers and volume
  • The look of the TV

    The TCP65VT60 is the second tier 65 inch model in Panasonic's lineup for 2013 and 2014. It's feature laden with many of the top end VT50 features from last year such as the Infinite Black Ultra Panel, 3000 FFD focus field drive for fast motion display, upgraded built in side speakers, a slim attractive metal pedestal stand, and 2D to 3D conversion. Also, count the touch pad remote with voice interaction.

    Picture Quality - Superior: 9.5/10

    Blacks and Contrast


    Panasonic TC-P65VT60
    You can get a real sense of the black levels that can be achieved on the VT60 from this shot. As you can see, reflections in exceptionally bright rooms may end up being a problem despite the screen filter. The built-in camera can be seen at the top of the screen

    One of the greatest characteristics of the picture performance of the TC-P65VT60 series TV once calibrated is the exceptional deep rich black levels produced by the Infinite Black Ultra Panel. This panel is actually comprised of the Infinite Black Pro Panel with the Ultra Filter – combining to make the “Ultra” panel. In fact the black levels are only challenged by the new OLED TVs in depth. The ultra filter is not actually part of the panel but an expensive overlay of sorts that enhances depth perception and also black levels by absorbing in-room light and not allowing it to escape. This little trick is especially handy for the anti-glare property it provides as well. This is called a louvered filter and these filters are normally only found on top end models.

    Color Reproduction/Image Edges/Processing



    This is a great example of the clean line the 65VT60 is capable of producing. Color is also shown in this shot from the Blu-ray of The 5th Element

    The 65VT60 presents a smooth, vibrant, color-rich picture. One thing we really loved were the image edges on this display. They are probably the best we have ever seen from a 1080p TV. Light flow from in-picture lighting is pretty close to that found in good LED TVs – a testament to Panasonic's technology changes to combat some of LED TV advances. A real step forward. The couple of negatives we noted were some jerky judder effects during slow panning, and some pixelating artifacts visible on certain situation on light areas of the screen. There is also more flicker present in horizontal lines when there is slow panning. Using the 96hz setting resulted in more flicker for most programming. I prefer the 60hz setting for less flicker. Panasonic high end plasma TVs have suffered somewhat as well from some picture instability – a jumpy effect in some scenes. To me, it is negligible on the VT60.

    Picture Mode Settings VT60:

    Standard - This setting is much improved over the dim standard mode from the VT50.
    Cinema - The Cinema setting bumps up the color saturation and gives pictures a warm tone.
    THX Cinema - We liked this one. It provides a slightly brighter and more saturated image than the Cinema setting
    THX Bright Room - We like this setting and it's the best of the preset picture modes. It's new and it was needed on many plasma TVs such as the Panasonics that needed a quick setting solution for brightly lit rooms. This or the THX Cinema setting are good options if you do not want to delve into our settings. THX Bright Room runs Contrast all the way to 100%. But it's still not as good as our settings.
    Game Mode - This setting will look blown out like the Vivid setting unless you are gaming on the TV, then it is acceptable though to me it shows lots of granulation and artifacts.
    Custom - Comes set to 100% of contrast and is your launch pad into our professionally calibrated settings.
    Vivid - Shows tons of pixelation and artifacts and should be avoided. There are just too many negative picture effects to name with this setting, so just avoid it.

    Motion Smoother (IMPORTANT Setting)

    This is an important setting on the VT60 and the TV comes with this setting activated on most preset picture modes. So if the picture looks strange, check here first. Your choice is to either turn it off and see the picture as naturally intended with some unintended judder, or use the feature with much of the background blur and judder removed. This may bother some as it produces an fake appearance – some call it the Soap Opera effect. The Weak setting option within the control does not seem to produce much problem and is worth considering. Otherwise, we prefer the feature be left off. The Mid and Strong settings produce too much (of that stuff). To get to the control: go to the top left menu button, then the right arrow key to access Picture settings, then scroll down to the second page, and there you will find the Motion Smoother. Turn off or to the Weak setting.

    Now let me confuse you. With both 3D programming and Gaming you will definitely want to use the Motion Smoother feature on at least the Mid setting as it enhances the performance of both.

    3D Picture Quality – Solid Performance After Finding Best Settings

    Once calibrated the VT60 has a good, solid 3D picture performance though it falls behind some of the LG passive 3D TVs in this area. After ramping up the 3D picture a bit through the Custom setting (Motion Smoother to Strong setting, 3D Adjustment setting to +3) we got a very solid 3D picture that popped. What you notice immediately about the 65VT60 compared to LED 3D TVs is that the 3D picture is much darker and this takes away somewhat from the 3D quality – whether caused by the glasses or the image. But after these adjustments you get a deep picture with lots of richness and certainly above average 3D picture with little crosstalk or flicker from the glasses. Side-viewing angles with 3D images are perfect on the ST60. There is little crosstalk to observe unless there is very fast motion in the picture. The VT60 is THX certified for both 2D and 3D programming. Two pairs of 3D glasses are included with the VT60 (TY-ER3D5MA) and are large, light and comfortable. Additional pairs of glasses run around $75.

    The Active 3D Glasses of the Panasonic TC-P65VT60 Plasma TV
    The active 3D glasses that come in the box are a little bulky, but light. 2 pairs are included

    2D to 3D Conversion – Leave it Alone!

    Nope, not there yet on the 65VT60. That is, unless you are willing to punish your eyes. You'll see tons of crosstalk, fluttering images, blur, motion lag everything you do not want in a 3D picture (or any picture for that matter). We tried it with some good BluRays as well as regular DVDs and it's a feature that you will want to leave alone for now on the Panasonic VT60.

    Gaming Quality

    We fired up Gran Turismo 5 and Okami HD on the PS3 to test out the VT60's gaming capabilities. The TV has a Game mode located in the advanced picture settings. It's a good idea to turn it on for action games and shooters. Otherwise there will be a noticeable amount of input lag. There was a bit of judder in the Game mode, but that didn't take away from the experience. The Motion Smoother setting helps with the judder, but has to be disabled when the Game mode is running.

    Game Mode and Input Lag on the Panasonic TC-P65VT60 Plasma TV
    Input lag in the game mode is cut down to levels where we didn't notice during gameplay, though some may say that it is too much

    Try out both ways for different games to see what works best, but I still recommend Game mode as best. We gave 3D a try on Gran Turismo 5 as well. The sense of depth was very subtle, but the picture quality did not take a turn for the worse like we saw with other TVs in tests. It could be a lot of fun with the right game. Important Note: This is a plasma TV, so try not to allow static images and HUD elements to remain on the screen for long periods of time to avoid ghosting and burn in.

    Gran Turismo 5 on the Panasonic TC-P65VT60 Plasma TV
    Gran Turismo 5 on the Panasonic TC-P65VT60. The strong contrast of the plasma display is really showcased here

    3000 Focused-field Drive

    Panasonic’s claims for the new specification is that it makes motion scenes more smooth and the image edges more crisp, by manipulating the light emissions of the TV, and in the end producing a picture with less blur especially during fast motion on-screen. Our own eyeball tests of the new Panasonic plasmas show excellent quality with fast moving images, whether it is from some enhancement FFD or otherwise a normal quality of plasma.

    Features Rating: 8.8/10

    Smart TV Features and Functionality

    Internet Browsing/Wifi Connection

    Browsing is not difficult to access through the Apps button on the remote. Then scroll across to the clearly noted box marked “Web Browser.” The Panasonic VT60 is slow to browse with even though the Wifi connection through this TV is one of the best we've tested. The 5-way controller on the normal remote control is slow, the touchpad on the touchpad remote is just slightly better, and the voice control feature is novel at first but mus-comprehends words too often. The VT60 uses a url toolbar or a Google browser tab for searches.

    The Wifi Connection on the VT60 is the best of any TVs we've tested this year (this and the ST60).

    Smart TV Apps

    Panasonic TC-P60VT60 Apps
    This is the screen where you access the apps you have downloaded onto the VT60

    The VT60 has a full complement of Smart TV Apps. Featured Apps include MLB.TV, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Games (Playjam), You Tube, Amazon IV, Accu Weather, Cinema Now, WSJ Live, MLS Soccer, Skpe, Fox Sports, Vudu HD Movies, Pandora, TCN TV Country. Notably missing was Picasa though. One area of superiority with the Panasonic TC-P60VT60 compared to some of the competition is that the wifi connection is excellent. MySpace is not a big part of the selection anymore and other Apps that have taken a backseat or that are not present anymore include Daily Motion, Bigflix VOD, Smagfilms. There are 33 games to choose from with most free and the others costing 99 cents.

    MLS Match Day – Major League Soccer highlights from previous games and live games if you tune it at the right time. Good clarity from the VT60. Rating: 5 out of 5. This is what Apps should be like and its free.
    MLB.TV – highlights and scores from Major League Baseball.
    WSJ Live – Interesting interviews from the Wall Street Journal purportedly live. Give it a 4 out of 5 rating.
    Fox Sports – Just scores and a little highlight news about Baseball, NFL, NBS and NHL.. not much. 1 out of 5 rating.

    Panasonic TC-P65VT60 My Home Screen
    Here you see the home screen where every user of the TV will be able to customize the home page with any apps they like

    The new My Home Screen allows users to select what content is shown on their personal home screen. To me, it's not a very interesting feature nor something I would likely use. With Swipe & Share 2.0 users can view or play content from their Android and iOS devices on the screen with a simple swipe of the finger.

    Swipe & Share 2.0

    Owners of the 65VT60 have the ability to transfer photos and videos from their Apple or Android devices directly to the large screen with a simple swipe, and then transfer them back to their smart device the same way.

    Touch Pad Controller


    Panasonic TC-P65VT60 Touch Pad Controller
    The included Touch Pad Controller is most useful for speeding up web browsing, but doesn't really help navigation through the Viera Connect platform. A mic button located at the top-left of the controller makes it easy to access the new voice recognition controls

    The touch pad controller probably will not be the reason you purchase this TV. I'm just guessing, but it sure would not be a factor for me. The touchpad function just barely speeds browsing although it does speed toggling among Smart TV apps a bit. The voice command and control feature is not nearly as effective or useful as the LG Magic Remote so Panasonic has some work to do there.

    Appearance and Design



    This shot shows off the elegant glass and metal design of the VT60

    The VT60 features built in side speakers and a slim metal table top stand which give it a great look. New for this year is the distinctive V shaped neck which is pretty slick. The TV frame is metal with glass accents and overall has an expensive and classy look and feel, while not as slick or modern looking as the frame-less Samsung or LG top end LED TVs (or even Panasonic's LEDs). We recently reviewed the ET60 from Panasonic and it's better looking than the VT60. The front facing pop-up camera on the VT60 is fairly small and curious looking.

    Menu Settings



    This is the easy to navigate picture settings menu

    The picture menu for the VT60 is quite good with a 10 point or 2 point white balance control. As mentioned above there are additional picture mode settings as well. The menu is easy to access and navigate and very thorough with loads of Picture, 3D, and Sound options.

    Sound Quality – Somewhat better

    Sometimes has a hollow (tunnelesque) effect from the VT60 that turning the volume up does not remedy. Sound is generally good from the 2.1 sound system, has a small 10 watt woofer with 2 X 10 watt speakers. There are lots of sound options available with a surround mode. The standard modes are Standard, Music, Ambience, User. The Natural Surround mode isn't bad for movies but we prefer the simple Standard mode with everything else off. Treble (+6) and bass (-5) which helped slightly.

    Front Facing Camera

    The included front facing camera is convenient and a useful “extra” if you're a Skype user. It pops up automatically when accessing the Skype App in the TVs Viera Connect menu. There are a couple of settings options but generally the camera is of medium quality and with a fairly narrow focus.

    Value Rating - 7.9/10

    Here is where quality and price converge and man, these top end plasmas are up there this year in price. The TC-P65VT60 is around $3399 - no bargain basement TV and $1000 more than the 55 inch version. Yes, it has best in the market black levels that rival the best ever. In a dark home theater type environment the picture quality is astounding. Competition for this top model (along with the ZT60) comes from Samsung's UN65F8000 LED, and the Samsung PN64F8500. LG does not make a 65 version of their top LED. At this price, 4K TVs will not have to come down much to compete – the Sony XBR-65X900A is $6999 and coming down fast.

    Overall Rating: 8.7/10

    Other Specifications

    • 65 inch Diagonal Screen
    • 3 USB
    • 3HDMI
    • Dual Core Processing Engine (Hexa)
    • Includes 2 pair active 3D eyewear
    • Built-in Camera for Skype
    • Voice Interaction




    Robert Wiley Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert

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