Panasonic Viera TH-P65VT20A

The Panasonic Viera TH-P65VT20A plasma offers up an impressive home cinema experience whether you're watching in two dimensions or three.


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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


In the past, if you wanted a "big screen" experience the only logical solution was to buy a projector. Impressive as they are, they do present a few problems — you need to watch them in the dark, the bulbs need replacing and so on — and so patient home theatre enthusiasts have awaited the arrival of "affordable" big-screen televisions as an alternative. At last, they are rewarded with the appearance of Panasonic's new flagship plasma: the TH-P65VT20A

Design

Like the 50-inch version of this series, the colour of the VT20 was probably aiming for "copper" but somehow ended up with "metallic brown". Nevertheless, the shade is still quite subtle and would blend well with fashionable dark wood furniture.

Not only is a 65-inch plasma the equivalent of a person who is five-foot five inches tall but it weighs just as much at 54.5 kilograms! You'll need a couple of people to help you lift this one. The TV is still relatively slim and sleek but unlike the 50-inch it lacks a swivelling stand.

The remote control is Panasonic standard issue, but it's easier to use than before: the centrally-based "Viera Tools" button brings up an On-Screen Display (OSD), which includes access to IPTV and 3D.

Features

Technically, the TH-P65VT20A is based on Pioneer's Kuro plasma system and features a "glassless" waffle front, which offers better off-axis viewing. The panel has been given THX's official tick of approval and features a high 5,000,000:1 dynamic contrast for deep blacks and a full 1080p moving picture resolution for better on-screen movement.

While the manufacturer may trumpet 3D as being the most interesting thing about this TV, we think it's wrong. Why yes, it lets you watch 3D TV and Blu-rays with the included pair of 3D goggles (you read right, just one pair!), but it's the internet connectivity that's intriguing here. The Panasonic features IPTV under the name of "Viera Cast", with access to YouTube and local video content "coming soon". You can also Skype your buddies (with the addition of the AU$199 camera) and also access Bloomberg, Twitter and Picasa.

The Panasonic ships with four HDMI ports — with ARC support for single cable convenience — two components, an S-Video, a PC input, SD card slot and four AV-ins. The TV can playback media files such as AVCHD, DivX HD, SD-Video, JPEG, MP3 and AAC via one of the two USB ports or the Ethernet connection, and can also record free-to-air content on a single tuner with the addition of a USB drive.

Performance

If you're looking for a big screen, then plasma is the perfect balance of price and performance. While it's over twice the price of the 50-inch VT20, the Panasonic is still four grand cheaper than Samsung's smaller, "luxury" TV — the UA55C9000.

It's not surprising that the 65-inch performed similarly to its smaller sibling, but there were some significant differences. Let's just say this first: this TV is *insert expletive here* huge! It will dwarf most lounge rooms, and as a result one quirk that was insignificant on the 50VT20 was suddenly quite noticeable. For example, during our testing we noticed a diagonal mesh effect that didn't appear on the 50-inch. Apart from that, the 65-inch version is better in most ways.

Panasonic's strength is in contrast performance, and we'd argue the 65VT20 has the deepest blacks we've seen on a plasma. The Panasonic lures you in with inky-black tendrils and you're left mouth agape at the depth of its images. Whether it was the fine detail in the murk of Bruce Wayne's Asian prison cell or the individual hair on King Kong's arm softly blowing in the morning air, you'll see shadow details most LCDs will miss.

Colour accuracy is also a bonus, with images from the King Kong DVD looking incredibly natural. Batman Begins on Blu-ray, with its muted palette, looked gorgeous and detailed — also confirming the TV could properly handle colour gradations, which is a problem with "lesser" panels. Switching back to Kong and the TV demonstrates how talented it is in eradicating noise from an image: the long shot of King Kong on top of the Empire State displayed crisp edges with none of the mosquito noise of lesser screens.

The TV supports 24p, which is supposed to provide smoother pictures when watching Blu-ray movies, and this smoothness was demonstrated in both our synthetic HQV tests and the opening of Chapter 11 on the Mission Impossible III disc. The TV didn't pass the 30fps Video HQV tests, but this could only be an issue if you watch NTSC video content, and not even really much of a problem then.

If you're looking for a television for watching sport, you won't find any as impressive as this Panasonic. Watching both AFL Grand Finals (in 2D and 3D) brought with it a room full of sports fans, and the TV's ability to grab hold of a game as fast as Aussie Rules meant we didn't miss any of the action.

Where Panasonic can't keep up with current processing leaders such as Sony, is in its dealings with "jaggies", and on a large screen these are one of the most distracting image artefacts after judder. Like the 50VT20, the 65-inch has problems resolving a standard-definition image, and on the King Kong disc it appeared as if some actors are wearing flesh-coloured Kanye "grille" glasses instead of eyeballs.

Watching the 3D animation Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs we failed to notice any crosstalk issues, and images were bright and involving. Only occasionally did 100Hz "haloing" effects occur, which are an unavoidable side effect of the high hertz rate of 3D systems. The 3D system is also significantly less bright than competing products so you can only really watch 3D in the dark.

We tried playing some 3D games but after getting giddy playing Wipeout HD on PS3 we abruptly stopped. Despite what some pundits say, 3D games aren't where (any) TV is at.

Given that the amount of content is still small, the VieraCast internet streaming service is a little less impressive than competitors. The VieraCast screen is a little dour in dark blue, and apart from distractions like Twitter and Facebook the only real "couch-friendly" content is YouTube. Content looks as good as you can expect web-centric video to look on a humongous screen!

Lastly, if you don't have a sound system, our advice is: get one. If not, then you'll find that the Panasonic is a reasonable communicator, but of course no match for even a modest system. Dialogue is clear, but it does lack sparkle and intimacy. Music is relatively propulsive, and movie sound also carries a decent amount of bass weight.

Conclusion

So, this TV costs about the same as a good-quality projector and projection screen, and capable of an image almost as big. Would we recommend this instead? Why, yes. While it gives off a decent amount of heat it actually swallows a lot less power than an equivalently-priced projector and you can watch it comfortably in a lit room.

It may not be the prettiest flower in the bunch, and has its quirks, but the Panasonic VT20 is an impressive television. To those who buy it: you better stock up on beers, you're going to suddenly make a lot of new friends.



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AmItheOnlyOne posted a comment   
Australia

My advise is don't buy this its 3D quality sucks and 3D eye wear needs batteries and they are pretty big. Go to a store and compare with a LG unit and see the difference in 3D. LG got true 3D with normal 3D eye wear that you can use in 3D cinema.

The big screen is extremely fragile warning to all owners of this model take extreme caution with the screen.
I got two bloody units now screen cracked. Both of the units under warranty but Panasonic refused to offer any assistance.
Writing to consumer affairs on this soon.

 

"Forgive me for asking...."

benjaminroberts85 posted a comment   
Australia

Me asking this question may mean that they are not something i need to worry about but what are Jaggies and could someone elaborate on how slight is the "slight cross-hatching effect"

idiotphone4lover
10
Rating
 

"Looking through a window picture - a made in Japan star."

idiotphone4lover posted a review   
Australia

Fantastic picture, SDXC
Forget sony LCD & "lucky goldstar", this has the real "looking through a window picture"
A made in Japan star.

I hate LG
10
Rating
 

I hate LG posted a review   

The Good:Big and beautiful

The Bad:Jealous and disgruntled ex Pana and now (laugh) LG lovers

Set is big and beautiful. Best pq for BR and SD I have seen.

Even if blacks rise the 65" sets have the best MLL of all plasma's.

Last years 65V10 had an excellent MLL level after the rise.

Danny if you bought a decent sized set and the vt series you wouldn't be

on this forum carrying on like a two bob watch.

Keep pushing LG and confirm to us all you have no credibility.

PS The TX series the Poms have is the same as US version which does not

have the 50hz processor but 60hz. Given that the English broadcast is in 50hz it is no wonder they have been getting poor images on 50Hz.

 

Danny posted a reply   

'TC-P65V10 Data
Model: TC-P65V10
Build Date: OCT 2009
Original Firmware: 1.24
Updated w/ VieraCast: 1.28
Updated THX via SD card: 1.28 (slight improvement, LSI did not change)

i1 Pro Meter - will post readings with i1 LT soon.

300 Hours
.009 ftL

485 Hours
.012 ftL

825 Hours
.016 ftL'

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1167339

D-Nice .007.-.008ftl
Chad B .006.-.007ftl
- Samsung C7000/C8000 58/63 (I seen someone post that is the mll for the 50 as well due to firmware update)

PK950
'After calibration I measured a black level of 0.04 cd/m2 which is the same as Panasonic G20 but a fairly significant improvement compared to the PS8000 plasma series from 2009 that we measured to 0.12 cd/m2.

This is a significant improvement by LG that now has the same deep black levels as on the Panasonic plasma TVs. And that%u2019s certainly reason for excitement.'
http://www.flatpanelshd.com/news.php?subtraction=showfull&id=1269254363

PK550 .013ftl http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=18358288

Yes, it has the best MLL of all plasmas maybe in your dream panasonic fanboy....

 

Danny posted a reply   

'I have a 50v10 and I just discovered I am also having the grey blacks. I just took readings with the set off, on without input and at 0% stimulus in each picture mode. One thing I did discover that I haven't seen anyone comment on yet is that if you put a black or 0% stimulus window on vivid mode it is jet black and reads .000. All other picture modes on my set are grayish and range from .012 up to .024. I took the readings with 3 different meters to see what would happen. I used the enhanced spyder3, the C-5 and the i1pro. Of course the readings were a little different for each meter due each having its own accuracies/inaccuracies. My readings were taken in a completely black environment except for the light from my laptop which I had as low as possible and still able to read the screen. Unfortunately I don't have the data from when my set was new. It now has 1325 hours.
As I believe Orta already stated that changing the brightness control had no affect on readings.
In custom mode at 38fl the C5 read between .012, i1pro read .o19 and the S3 read .024. All are elevated compared to what the v10 should be reading which if I remember correctly is around .007/.008.' - link http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=17391653&postcount=334

'Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyWalters
I have the most affected model (G10) yet the lawyers have not reached out to me regarding my multi-million dollar share of their settlement. I have my eye on a Ferrari.

Donnymac51: The mll on my V10 is currently at .033ftl and a customer I did recently was at .035ftl. Can you beat that?'
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=19883439&postcount=803

'Quote:
Originally Posted by calvin35
This may be a silly question, but I have any of these sets actually stopped rising yet. Has anyone measured any of these sets and verified that there has been no rise for like a year or a half straight?

donnymac51: I can only speak for my own set which has 5200 hrs on it. I don't know the exact time of the last rise but I am guessing it was between 2000-3000hrs. I believe it should be done. The general consensus is that there would be 3 rises on the '09 models with the last around 2000 hrs IIRC. I believe XROX and D-nice have the best info on this.'
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=19889525&postcount=816

Bigdaddy
10
Rating
 

Bigdaddy posted a review   

The Good:It's not an LG

The Bad:Pricey

Danny you have got to be joking. You are the only person on the planet

that raves on about how good LG is and how bad Panasonic is.

Mate LG as a brand is one of the most embarrassing sets to lay claim you own.

They made a lot of rubbish and continue to do so.

You can't be taken seriously. My god the worlds's first and only LG fanboy.

Very sad.....

 

Danny posted a reply   

For the millionth time I'm not a LG fanboy, if I was fanboy, which I'm not... I would never have brought a Panasonic to begin with. I'm not a brand loyalist like yourself, or any of this drones like yourself.

 

AndyVan posted a comment   

@Danny, yes everyone is entitled to their opinion but it is you who seems to be coming off as the LG fanboy..... I think it's fair to say that any decent panel will come up well once it has been calibrated correctly... would you agree with that? I have had a few LG panels 42 & 50 (the first SD one was an absolute joke.. I began to laughing refer to LG as lousy goods) the second was much better after calibration... i have since moved onto the latest pani (65) and i have to say it is fantastic with both SD & HD content (after calibration) The negative reviews i have read all centre around the standard factory settings... once you set it up properly the picture is great!

 

Danny posted a reply   

Nope. I hate fanboys. Panasonic is only one who has rising blacks.... the fact that the black levels will go beyond Samsungs is a joke.

Patents back this up they are the only PDP manufacture who has rising blacks.

Not to mention that annoying feature 'floating blacks'. The thing is if Panasonic gets rid of these two issues. (they had them since the first generation Panasonics, but I heard they got rid of floating blacks in 2009, but they brought them back this year. I'd buy there TV's again, I had a 50v20a with bad floating blacks it happened on every mode I sold it it was friggin' annoying.


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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Viera TH-P65VT20A

  • AmItheOnlyOne

    AmItheOnlyOne

    "My advise is don't buy this its 3D quality sucks and 3D eye wear needs batteries and they are pretty big. Go to a store and compare with a LG unit and see the difference in 3D. LG got true 3D with..."

  • benjaminroberts85

    benjaminroberts85

    "Me asking this question may mean that they are not something i need to worry about but what are Jaggies and could someone elaborate on how slight is the "slight cross-hatching effect""

  • idiotphone4lover

    idiotphone4lover

    Rating10

    "Fantastic picture, SDXC
    Forget sony LCD & "lucky goldstar", this has the real "looking through a window picture"
    A made in Japan star."

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