Review: First On TechTree: Panasonic VIERA TH-P65VT30D
65 inches of pure awesomeness for those who can afford it.
Excellent picture quality; Good 3D experience; Excellent connectivity options.
Glass screen is too reflective; Power consumption.
When it comes to televisions, the latest rage in town is those equipped with some form of 3D technology, and almost every major manufacturer having its own 3D TV category. Panasonic had introduced its VIERA 3D plasma 3D television range last year and we have reviewed the largest in this range available in India at present, the 65" TH-P65VT30D, which is an upgraded version of the TH-P65VT20D. This TV can display 1080p content in 3D using RealD 3D technology and can also convert 2D content into 3D. It is THX certified with Dolby Digital, featuring a memory card reader, and two USB ports with support for AVCHD and DivX HD. It supports a proprietary 600 Hz sub-field drive engine, which claims to give a smoother, flicker-free display. This huge television makes for an awesome display of opulence.
Remote control with 2xAA batteries
2x 3D Eyewear TY-EW3D2M
Wireless LAN USB dongle with extension cable
2x Composite (AV) adaptor
Component (RGB) adaptor
RF (co-axial) adaptor
2x Audio (stereo to RCA) adaptor
Optical digital audio adaptor
D-Sub PC adaptor
3D Eyewear And Remote
Panasonic provides only two pairs of 3D eyewear with this TV. If you want to watch 3D movies with the entire family, you will have to buy extra. The eyewear looks sleek and is considerably light-weight at just 39 g, despite the fact that it is battery powered, making it easy to use for long durations. The battery is rechargeable via a microUSB port, and lasts for 30 hours on a 2-hour charge. A small switch lets you switch it on and off to conserve battery power when not in use. It automatically switches off when it detects that 3D viewing is not being done for around 10 minutes. Bespectacled users need not worry because you can easily wear these over your glasses.
The remote control powered by two AA batteries, as is the case with almost every television today, is quite long, which is understandable because it has to accommodate all the function buttons necessary to completely control the television. Additionally, it has the VIERA Tools and VIERA Link function buttons. Extra buttons are present to control media devices connected to the TV and supporting VIERA Link. All the buttons are neatly labelled and it is easy to find what you are looking for on this remote.
Design And Features
The Panasonic VIERA TH-P65VT30D is a huge television with a size that makes it suitable to be installed only if you have a large living room. Describing its presence in words cannot do it justice because its sheer size is overwhelming.
Before you decide to purchase it, you should know its dimensions to decide how and where to install it. Its height without the stand is 96 cm, width is 157 cm, while the thickness is 6 cm, which is surprisingly thin for a plasma TV and is definitely a lot thinner than its predecessor. We think that it is best to install it on a wall, but if you wish to use the pedestal stand, then you must keep in mind that this stand has a thickness of 40 cm, while the total height of the TV with the stand comes to around 100 cm. Also, if you decide to place it on a platform, you have to keep in mind that it is considerably heavy, weighing 63 kg with the pedestal stand, and 56 kg without.
The first thing we noticed about the VIERA is its single glass sheet design, which gives it a stylish monolithic type of look. A single strip of aluminium strip turned all around the length and breadth of the bezel makes it look elegant. However, the bezel behind the glass sheet is still too thick with the thickness being 6 cm for the top and bottom, and 6.5 cm for the left and right bezels. While it doesn't make the TV look bad, the general aesthetic trend is towards thinner bezels, which seem to allow the TV to merge into the wall once it is wall-mounted. The glass sheet has a glossy finish, which makes it difficult to view when placed opposite to a bright source of light such as a window during day. Also, it easily catches fingerprint smudges, so hands off the panel. The various certifications of the TV are printed at the bottom of the bezel besides indicator LEDs. Four fans are present inside the body of the TV at the back near the top to vent out hot air produced inside.
Control buttons are almost completely absent at the front with the exception of a power button almost hidden just below the centre of the bezel at the front. The rest of the controls are placed on the right side, just behind the bezel. Function, Volume, TV, and AV buttons are present here.
There are many connectors at the rear, which are very difficult to access once the TV is wall-mounted. These include the co-axial connector for cable TV signal, three AV connectors, a composite connector, PC connector, and an audio out connector to connect to an HTS. An RJ-45 port is also present in this group to connect and make use of DLNA \ VIERA CAST \ Internet features of the TV. Due to size constraints introduced because of reduction in the thickness of the TV, most of these connectors are not standard connectors, but Panasonic has provided all the necessary adaptor cables to be used with these connectors.
Connectors are present on the left side of the TV at the back to provide easy access even after it is wall-mounted. These include four HDMI connectors to let you connect a HD set-top box, a gaming console, a PC, and a HD media player all at once. There is even a headphones jack. Of course, if you really plan to use this headphone jack, then you will need a really long cable due to the huge size of the TV screen making it impractical to watch from too close. It would have been a good idea to provide at least one AV connector in this region for easy accessibility, because most SD set-top boxes or media players support only such connectivity options.
Panasonic has also provided two USB ports and an SD card slot to view movies, pictures, or listen to music placed on these media types. Unlike the previous version, this TV supports NTFS file system as well as a host of media formats. It supports playback of up to 1080p video in DivX, AVCHD (MTS), MKV, MPEG-1 \ 2, MP4, WMV, MOV, and many other formats. USB hard drives are also supported.
We connected the TV to the Amkette FlashTV HD media player using a HDMI cable to view HD movies, and to a PC with a GeForce GTX 460 using an HDMI v1.4 cable to view 3D content using NVIDIA 3DTV Play software. A Tata Sky+ HD connection was used to find out the quality of standard television programming and a few HD channels being offered.
HD HQV Benchmark
The VIERA scored high marks as far as the colour range is concerned with smooth gradations like we have never seen before. The black levels for which plasmas are so famed, are evident in the test, especially in the Cinema, Game, and THX mode. However, there were a few minor issues while running the Video Resolution Loss test with some flicker. Noise reduction was also found not to be the most efficient.
2D Picture Quality
As expected, watching HD movies was a treat on the TV, thanks to the rich colours, wide contrasts, amazing brightness, and the larger than life images. The colour reproduction is natural with no noticeable saturation. HD channels from the set top box look amazing on this TV. Switching to SD channels was found to be surprisingly good, although you can't help but notice some blurriness due to the SD content being blown up to such a large size screen. Also, you end up with vertical bars on the left and right when watching at the correct aspect ratio, because the display is 16:9 widescreen, while the current SD channels offer only 4:3. Since the quality of normal Cable TV is generally worse, we recommend against using it with this TV. Audio is surprisingly good for a TV, thanks to a 2.1 audio system with the two satellites on either side just behind the bezel with openings at the bottom, while a sub-woofer hidden inside the body at the centre.
As mentioned earlier, this TV plays 3D content in Full HD using Real D 3D technology, which uses circular polarisation to eliminate problems experienced with other 3D techniques, where turning your head results in loss of 3D effect. In order to be able to view 3D content, you must connect this TV to either a PC capable of producing 3D video output, or a 3D Blu-ray player, which will limit the possibility to just using 3D Blu-rays. Using a PC will let you view a variety of 3D content including computer games. In our case, the TV was connected to a PC equipped with NVIDIA 3DTV Play and a 3D Blu-ray player.
Space Station Blu-ray 3D was used to gauge the 3D performance in movies. We also tried 3D gaming by connecting it to a PC with NVIDIA 3D Vision. Additionally, we used the TV's 2D to 3D conversion facility to convert some 2D movies into 3D. This TV really immerses you into the 3D world it recreates around you delivering an overall experience rivalling that of a movie theatre. The 3D experience is good enough to even convert sceptics into fans. Watching for long hours does not cause any headaches, and there were absolutely no flickering or crosstalk \ ghosting issues, which are the common complaints about 3D. You can turn your head or even move around the TV and get the same 3D experience. The only problem we noticed was that the brightness reduces when a switch is made to 3D. However, increasing the TV's brightness solves this issue. The 2D to 3D conversion works well with some content, while it may not work as well with others, which is understandable because it is just an algorithm, trying to approximate the 3D video from a 2D source with no 3D information.
This TV also supports playback of 3D content through its own media player. However, the content has to conform to certain standards such as Frame Sequential, Side by Side, and Top and Bottom. While it might work well, that might not always be the case. Some people may find it uncomfortable to watch in this way because there is no facility to adjust the inter-ocular distance (distance between the eyes) in the TV. While this distance is generally assumed to be 6.5 cm, a little more or less can cause discomfort. Also, there is no option to switch left and right eye visuals if the source has them in an wrong sequence.
The built-in media player works well, but the interface could have been a little better. The listing of files can lead to confusion and navigation can be a problem because the directory structure is not clearly visible. Playback is not a problem as long as the content is supported. Panasonic could have assigned the playback controls for externally connected devices, already present on the remote control, to control this internal media player.
Some of the other notable features of this TV include DLNA, which makes it easy to use on a home network to display content from supporting devices on the network. In addition to the RJ-45 port, you can also use the Wi-Fi dongle provided with the TV with one of the USB ports to wirelessly connect the TV with a Wi-Fi router for internet connection. VIERA CAST is yet another feature, which allows you to enjoy internet content such as YouTube, Skype (along with the TY-10W web camera with inbuilt mic), Facebook, Twitter, photos, movies, weather, etc on the TV screen.
There is always a hue and cry about plasma TVs consuming a huge amount of power, especially big ones such as this. While it does consume more power, it does not consume a constant amount as is the case with LCDs or LED backlit LCD TVs. This particular TV features the Neo Plasma, which claims to consume half of the earlier plasma panels. While that figure is an exaggeration, it did consume around 65 percent of the predecessor. The power consumption peaked at 375 W when the entire display is white with the brightness set to high. The power consumption drops to 60 W when the entire screen is black at the lowest brightness.
There is no way to find average power consumption because it depends on the brightness of the scene being displayed. When set to Normal mode at default brightness, the TV consumed 1 unit of electricity in 4 hours of normal viewing. The power consumption drops to a unit every 6 hours when you switch the Eco mode, which seems to reduce the brightness a bit and possibly optimises other settings we are not aware of. The most power is consumed when using Dynamic Contrast setting when it consumes a unit every 2.5 hours on an average. The TV also generates measurable amount of heat, thus ruling out the possibility of watching the endless soap opera programming or probably even a cricket match, unless the room is air conditioned.
The Panasonic VIERA TH-P65VT30D leaves you overwhelmed with everything - size, performance, and of course, the price. The huge 65" panel really turns your living room into a mini theatre of sorts. There is no question that plasmas beat LCDs hands down as far as the colour, contrast, and brightness are concerned, and this TV is a glittering example of just that. The 3D experience is surprisingly pleasant, because we usually expect headache or discomfort after a few minutes of wearing due to flickering, none of which was evident in this case even after hours of viewing. The TV comes with two pairs of 3D eyewear, but you can buy more for the family.
Being an upgraded version of the TH-P65VT20D, the TH-P65VT30D has done everything right, what was wrong with its predecessor. It supports USB drives with NTFS file system and almost every format an HD media player supports. In addition to memory cards and USB flash drives, it also supports USB hard drives without any problem. It does consume a lot of electricity, but even that has been reduced by leaps and bounds when compared to the earlier version. In general, it consumes around 65% of what its predecessor consumes. The cost of power consumption might not bother someone who has the money to buy such an expensive TV. While it is still an energy hog and going for an LED backlit LCD TV with a similar screen size appears to make better sense in the long run, it is going to take a long time to recover the extra Rs 1,00,000 you pay for the latter. At an MRP of Rs 3,79,000, this may seem an expensive proposition, but you can get it for around Rs 37,000 less as mentioned at the start of the review.
Ease Of Use: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
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