So here it is at last: the 3D-loving beast we’ve all been waiting for. And in terms of sheer physical presence, Panasonic’s flagship TV, the 65in TX-P65VT30, doesn’t disappoint.
For a start, there’s that sheer lovely expanse of screen acreage, which reminds us of just how much bigger 65in looks than 50in and even 55in. It somehow takes you over the line from ‘big TV’ into genuine home cinema. Which is, of course, no bad thing when one of your key features is 3D.
It’s not just the screen that makes the P65VT30 huge, though. For it also sports a rather hefty amount of bezel - more than two inches, in fact, which is a lot by today’s slender standards.
Ultimately, it has to be said that the P65VT30 is not a particularly attractive presence in your living room. When it’s turned off it’s just a gaping black hole. But we'd guess that nobody seriously thinking of buying a 65in plasma TV is buying it primarily for aesthetic reasons.
The P65VT30 is suitably prolific in the connections department, with four HDMIs, three USBs, an Ethernet port, an SD card slot and built-in Wi-fi (via an included USB dongle). The HDMIs are all built to the 3D-Ready v1.4 standard, while the USBs and SD card slot can be used to record from the built-in HD digital tuners as well as playing back multimedia files. Impressive.
The mention of HD tuners in the plural back there was deliberate, as the P65VT30’s ‘completist’ approach to AV finds it sporting both Freesat HD and Freeview HD tuners. This is pretty handy given the current chaos that seems to be surrounding digital terrestrial reception in many areas following the great digital switch over.
The Ethernet port/Wi-Fi connectivity provide access not only to files stored on DLNA-ready PCs but also Panasonic’s Viera Connect online smart TV portal. While this portal has some useful video-centric services on it, including the BBC iPlayer, the AceTrax video rental/purchase service, YouTube and Eurosport, and also supports Skype, Twitter and Facebook, it’s currently rather off the pace in content terms compared with some rival online platforms. But that’s about to change.
For starters, Panasonic’s online marketplace has just opened, allowing you to purchase further apps. This is still rather sparsely populated, at the time of writing, but coming very soon are is a selection of impressive-looking games and health and fitness programs, as well as accessories such as joysticks, heart-rate monitors, scales and even a fully functioning treadmill that can sync up with Viera Connect and GoogleMaps so you can run virtually anywhere in the world where you fancy a jog.
Panasonic has also just opened its Viera Connect platform for independent developers to use, which should, in Smartphone style, lead to an explosion of apps appearing over the coming weeks and months.
As regular readers will appreciate from earlier reviews of other models in Panasonic’s VT30 series - most notably the P55VT30 - the P65VT30 benefits from all the very latest weaponry in Panasonic’s plasma TV arsenal. This includes the latest NeoPlasma panel design, complete with faster responding phosphors (to reduce 3D crosstalk noise); reduced ‘ribbing’ between the screen’s plasma cells to boost brightness and efficiency; a reduced ‘ignition’ point for the plasma cells to again boost efficiency; and not one but two new filters: one newly louvred one on the front to suppress room reflections, and a further one inside to enhance contrast levels.