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Panasonic TH-85VX200 - Dodgy Glasses and Quality 2D

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


The bottom line is that the 85VX200’s 3D talents are surely good enough to make believers out of even the most die-hard 3D haters. Or at least, they would be were it not for two irritating issues.

The first is Panasonic’s 3D glasses, which are, frankly, horrible. Their lenses are simply too narrow, meaning that pretty much anyone wearing them will either have to incline their head permanently to align the glasses properly with the screen, or else perch the glasses right at the end of their nose. As well as being uncomfortable, the latter option means you get lots of ambient light sneaking in between your eyes and the images received through the shuttering lenses.

The second problem, naturally, is the 85VX200’s terrifying price tag. For obviously it leaves the door open for people to say ‘so 3D can only look truly brilliant if you spend £42,000 on it, then?’...

Not surprisingly given its screen technology and Panasonic plasma heritage, the 85VX200 is also pretty wondrous with 2D material. Its contrast, in particular, is out of this world, as deep, rich, detailed blacks reside right alongside extremely bright - if marginally yellow-tinged - peak whites.

The screen’s colour performance is outstanding too, combining the most potent saturations yet seen from a Panasonic plasma TV with some extraordinarily precise blends and wonderfully subtle detailing.

HD 2D images are outstandingly detailed and sharp, with the exceptional contrast seemingly enhancing the sense of definition versus Panasonic’s consumer TVs. Motion looks slightly more natural on the 85VX200 too - and that’s without needing to use Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) system to reduce judder. Though to be fair, on its lowest setting at least, IFC delivers more watchable and natural results than many rival motion processing systems.

Even standard definition pictures are surprisingly watchable, given that the 85VX200‘s 85in screen would leave any rescaling errors with absolutely nowhere to hide. There’s a slightly soft look to standard def proceedings, for sure, but this is vastly preferable to a picture that looks sharp but distractingly noisy.


Shorn of the usual price-based limitations associated with making plasma TVs for the mass consumer marketplace, Panasonic has produced a true AV masterpiece in the 85VX200. Clearly its crazy price means that precious few people will be able to seriously think about buying one, and will turn to the much cheaper big-screen route of a front projection system instead.

But if you can afford to punt 42 grand on a home cinema screen and don’t want or can’t accommodate the room set up issues associated with projector systems, then at least you can console your bank account with the thought that the hefty hole that’s suddenly appeared in it has bought a screen that truly sets new standards.

Energizer Bunny

February 22, 2011, 1:52 pm

I know its very large John, but at that kind of price tag wouldn't you be better off just getting a top-end projector? I know you've sort of addressed that in your conclusion, but who can seriously accomodate a room big enough for this monster but not one for a projector?

One of my customers at work has a screen roughly this size (not this screen sadly) in their board room and they had to have it craned into the building through a window and have the wall reinforced to hang it!


February 22, 2011, 2:37 pm

John, I am drooling by just reading your review and you had it for a few days. You lucky man !

Ian Yates

February 22, 2011, 2:57 pm

As awesome as that all sounds, 85" of screen seems wasted on 1920x1080.

Was it not noticeable how "low" the resolution was for the size? I would have thought a higher native res and some intelligent scaling would give a better picture...


February 22, 2011, 3:39 pm

hd600x,3d-xl,85" pull down screen=£750,picture quality may not be as good but you can buy a bmw m3 to make up for it with the spare change.


February 22, 2011, 5:14 pm

@ian,no it dosent work like that 1080p looks amazing on an 85 or even 120" inch screen,the difference is with a 50" screen you sit 5 foot away and with an 85" screen you sit 10 feet away so the pixels look the same.

therefore a 24" 1080p from 2 foot and a 85" from 10 foot actually fills the same amount of your vision and are comparable,yet the bigger the screen the more wow it feels like.


February 22, 2011, 5:54 pm

For 42 grand, let's hope Panasonic fixed their 50Hz motion judder issues.

@Ian Yates - as betelgeus says, resolution isn't an issue if you sit the correct distance from the screen. To get the full benefit of 1080p with an 85" screen you need to be about 11 feet from the screen or closer. Obviously it will start to look poor if you sit too close, like 6 feet away, but if somebody were to purchase a 42 grand screen and sit too close, it probably means they have more money than sense!

Energizer Bunny

February 22, 2011, 6:00 pm

Think I might get one of these puppies mounted on my desk then use it as a monitor.


February 22, 2011, 6:14 pm

@betelgeus and Metalex

This might be a dumb question, but what's the point in buying a bigger screen and then sitting proportionately further away from it?

I suppose it means you can get more people in the room watching it at the same time, but for the individual viewer surely it means you're just cancelling out the benefit of having a bigger screen.

If it's not perceptibly bigger from your sitting position, where's the "wow factor", and what's the point?

Mark Rollason

February 22, 2011, 6:49 pm

3 of these in eyefinity or Nvidia 3D Vision surround...lol


February 22, 2011, 7:28 pm

scale pim


February 22, 2011, 9:05 pm

@Energizer Bunny

And that's even before the energy consumption and heat this thing must spew out is taken into consideration!

I bet a projector doesn't need its own nuclear powerplant and air conditioning system that this thing must do :)


February 22, 2011, 9:08 pm

@ Ian Yates - to add to what the others have said, if an appropriate distance isn't assumed then, yes, it would be like going to the cinema and sitting in the very front row :)


February 22, 2011, 9:09 pm

lol, another £10k every time it breaks down. You'll need a lifetime warranty at this price.

Ian Yates

February 22, 2011, 9:10 pm

I'm with Pim. I don't go to the IMAX to sit proportionally further away so that it feels like I'm at home watching TV.

This size screen screams of being great for more immersive viewing, but you don't have the option to go above 1080 vertical pixels. For 42k, I'd want a similar pixel density to a 40" TV.

If I replaced my computer monitor with a larger one, it wouldn't be to sit further away, it would be to get more real-estate and be able to play games with more detail.


February 22, 2011, 9:12 pm

@ pimlicosound - I think the term "wow factor" can be taken in different ways. Sure one of the main benefits of going to the cinema is to see the latest films, but the other is surely for the experience. Sitting in front of a massive screen and, usually, in the optimal centre of the middle row so your head is level with the centre of the screen.

This brings you closer to the cinema experience than just sitting closer to a 50" set. But so would a projector, though the latter is even more dependant on a blackened out room to get the best out of it.


February 22, 2011, 10:03 pm

If the resolution isn't enough, a couple of models up Panasonic has the TH-152UX1 - a 152" plasma with 4K2K resolution:


Power consumption is 3.7 kW and it weighs over half a ton. No confirmed price yet, but one article suggested half a million dollars.


February 22, 2011, 11:41 pm

@ Ian Yates - but this isn't a computer screen. In the mean time blu-ray will stay at the same resolution so there's nothing to gain from having a higher res if unless you're going to be using it for a media centre. In fact, upscaling br to a higher res would likely only detract from the image quality, never mind push the price up of th set.

I sit mere feet away from my high res computer displays because of the nature of the task. The bigger the screen the higher the res in general. It's not like you're talking 1024x768 and stretching it to 24". You also often look at a tiny area of the screen that you're working on. To take in a movie on a pc screen you'd also likely sit further back than normal. It's not comparable.


February 23, 2011, 3:24 pm

@Hans - There is no "regardless of viewing distance", as viewing distance is completely relevant to this.

4K is all very well, but if the human eye can't resolve the additional detail, then is there any point? Certainly not in average living room viewing conditions.

"I don't think we're there yet" - actually, we are to a certain extent.

On a 40" screen (which I read somewhere is about the average size of household TVs in the UK), you need to be sitting a maximum of 5 feet away to see the full benefit of 1080p. Move progressively further away and you will see less and less detail. Higher resolutions will not yield any benefit at this point.

Have a look at this chart: http://s3.carltonbale.com/reso...

Even with the 85" behemoth reviewed here, 1080p is all you would need when viewing at 11 feet or more. 1440p would be good enough at 8 feet. Do you still want 4K?

I'm not saying 4K won't happen at mass market level - manufacturer's will need something to flog after 3D has either died a death or reached saturation - but for me it certainly isn't something to get excited about.


February 23, 2011, 5:25 pm


I think you've put the argument for > 1080p resolutions well.

An 85" 16:9 TV has a width of 74".

At 11 feet, where you argue 1080p maxes out, this massive TV occupies a paltry 31 degrees of your visual field.

Hardly an immersive experience... the same experience, in fact, as watching movies on a 17" laptop screen from 2 feet, but you get to accommodate more viewers.

For 'wow', the IMAX specification has the screen filling the entire visual field for those in the front of the cinema (about 120 degrees horizontally).

To fill your visual field with an 85" TV, you'd have to be at about 2 feet(!), at which distance you could perceive a resolution of about 5940p from your chart.

So if you're talking IMAX-type viewing distances, and you want detail up the limit of the eye's resolving power as given in your chart, then this TV should have about FIVE TIMES the vertical resolution! Where you'd practically get the content is another matter.

I'm fairly certain of these numbers: you really would have to sit 2 feet from this TV to get an IMAX front row experience, at which point you could discern 5940p. Even if you feel this is over the top, 1080p reaches its limit with the TV occupying only about a quarter of your visual field horizontally - that's not immersive or 'wow' at all.


February 23, 2011, 6:28 pm

I was Technical Manager at Panasonic when the 103" Plasma was first introduced and see all the same old arguments, so lets look at them:

1. Ideal viewing distance is between 3-6 time the height of a 16:9 screen. So between 1.8 and 3.6M for a 50" screen. In fact for immersive viewing it is the lower figure. For most people they are the far end of this and in my case, the screen (50") is 2.8 metres from the viewing position. I would like to sit at 1.8M but my wife objects to me sitting on the coffee table. I really need a 58" or 65" screen but it won't fit in the recess.

I have a smallish room so it just over 3M wide but it it were to go to 4,5 or 6M would means that to get the same viewing experience I would need a bigger screen.

2. Green issues. Yes on 3D this consumes a lot of power but for most material, I am guessing less than the first 50" screens. In addition, most people will not have the £42K or the room to install this size of screen so the overall impact of the power consumption will be neglibible.

I assume that, like all Panasonic Plasma screens since 2006, there will be no lead in the screen and zero, or trace, levels of mercury.

3. Performance. If you have ever seen really good uncompressed 1920x1080P images on a 150" 4K screen you will know that pure resolution is not everything when it comes to picture quality. Just as you cannot judge a TV, Display or Projector buy its brightness, you cannot judge a screen by its resolution, black level or moving image performance.

All add or subtract from the viewing experience and cannot be considered in isolation.

Finally look upon this as a Ferrari, McClaren, an F1 car. his screen will be incorporating much of the technology that you see refined in next years Vieras.


February 23, 2011, 7:34 pm

@simonm firstly i cant coment on imax as ive never been to one(perhaps they use a curved screen or something judging by your comments)but the thx viewing angle is almost exactly 31 degree with a max of 36.

my projector screen sitting on the wall infront of me is 84" call it same size as this telly there is no way you can sit 2 foot from the screen simply because the entire picture would not be in one single frame without having to move your eyes(from 2 feet i would have to turn my entire head to see something on the left side of the screen plus the stress would make it unwatchable regardless of the resolution


February 23, 2011, 10:14 pm


Absolutely agree. I wouldn't want to sit 2 feet from an 84" image.

But in the front row of an IMAX cinema you do sit 24 feet from an 80-odd feet image.

(Interestingly, your objection that you'd have to turn your head to see something at the corner of the screen is considered a _desirable_ feature of IMAX. You might have noticed that you have to do that in real life! It helps create a sense of being involved in the scene rather than passively watching from a distance.)

They aim for a more immersive experience by occupying your entire field of vision, and then of course 1080p is no longer the limit of what you can discern, or even remotely close.

If the screen occupies your entire field of vision, you come out with the limit of visual acuity being about 6000 vertical lines.

I didn't invent IMAX just for the purposes of this argument - it's a real thing you know. :)

And although it's an extreme, IMAX helps illustrate why with a larger TV people might - even if they don't want to sit 2 feet from their TV (I wouldn't) - want to sit closer than 11 feet. And then you can discern the extra resolution.

Given which, I think it's wrong to dismiss the folk who've said they'd like more than 1080p.


February 24, 2011, 12:32 am

@pimlicosound on "what's the point in buying a bigger screen and then sitting proportionately further away from it?"

The biggest problem with 3d is that while your eyes cross BEHIND the screen, each eye focuses ON the screen, which is one of the causes of strain and poor experience. The further the screen is from the viewer, the better is the result. Moreover, since distance from camera to the object is usually in terms of "meters", looking from a similar distance feels much more appropriate and natural to the watchers. That's why 2d cinemas still exist as such.

Hans Gruber

February 24, 2011, 3:26 pm

Why not just sit closer to your existing screen and save yourself a huge amount of cash? If your friends want to watch a film with you tell them they need to watch it after you've finished or just go and watch their own TVs instead.

The bezel looks nice though. Definitely a good step forward in the right direction.

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