For at least the past two or three TV generations, Panasonic’s VT series of plasma screens have represented the pinnacle of TV performance - at least for any serious movie fans. So to say expectations are high for Panasonic’s flagship 2012 VT50 model, the 65in P65VT50, would be an almost criminal understatement.
Right out of the box you get the feeling the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 big-boy flagship isn’t going to let you down. It’s a truly imposing bit of kit, with its surprisingly slender black bezel offset delightfully by a metallic silver outer trim. Also, as usual with Panasonic plasmas, the P65VT50 is built like the proverbial brick outhouse - which is intended to be a compliment.
The P65VT50 is extremely well connected, meanwhile, with highlights of four v1.4 HDMIs, three USB ports, a LAN jack, LNB and RF inputs to support the set’s integrated Freesat HD and Freeview HD tuners, and built-in Wi-Fi.
As you would expect of a 2012 high-end TV, the LAN/WI-Fi and USB jacks provide extensive multimedia support, including streaming from DLNA PCs, access to Panasonic’s increasingly impressive Viera Connect online platform, and playback of a wide variety of multimedia files from USB sticks. Oh, and you can also record from the digital tuners to USB HDDs.
For all its exterior finery, though, it’s inside the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 that you find its flagship heart. For starters, tucked away inside its screen is Panasonic’s latest top-end filter, designed to boost black level depth by stopping ambient light from entering the screen while only slightly compromising the amount of light emerging from behind the screen.
Home cinema special
With this filter in mind, it’s our opinion that while you certainly could use a P65VT50 in a living room so long as you don’t mind dimming the lights to get the best out of it, it’s going to be at its unfettered best when used in a dedicated home theatre room.
Another key flagship element of the P65VT50 is its dual-core processing. This ultra-powerful engine filters into multiple elements of the set’s performance, from allowing you to have up to six different apps and features open simultaneously to improving picture processing.
The app multi-tasking impact of the dual-core processing is very welcome indeed once you’ve gotten used to how it works, making the TV’s multimedia talents feel much more naturally integrated into the TV’s ‘core’. We also found ourselves using a wider range of the TV’s multimedia tools than we did while using Panasonic’s non-dual core 2012 TVs.
We’ll get to the impact of the dual-core processing on picture quality presently, so all we’ll say for now is that it helps the set produce an unprecedented ‘2500Hz’ sub-field drive system (which on paper at least has the potential to take judder removal and motion clarity to a new level), and that it helps the set produce a massive 24,576 steps of colour.
We’ve pretty much done Panasonic’s Viera Connect online platform to death in the course of our previous 2012 Panasonic TV reviews, so we won’t go into much depth on it again here. Highlights of the service include the BBC iPlayer, YouTube, AceTrax movies, BBC News, Eurosport, Netflix, Fetch TV, Twitter, Facebook, and iConcerts. Plus there’s an internet browser, and an impressively well-developed and presented online Marketplace for buying extra apps and even a few hardware accessories.
The Panasonic TX-P65VT50 is endorsed by the THX group, pointing both to a hopefully impressive picture performance and some onboard THX picture presets - one designed for a dark cinema installation, and one aimed at brighter room use. The P65VT50 is also endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF), thanks to its provision of decent colour and gamma management toolsets.