Panasonic Viera TH-P65VT20A review: Panasonic Viera TH-P65VT20A

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Deep, deep blacks. True-to-life colours. Excellent noise performance. Access to YouTube and more. Impressive size.

The Bad Slight cross-hatching effect. Prone to jaggies. No swivel mount. Costly.

The Bottom Line 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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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.

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Where to Buy

Panasonic Viera TH-P65VT20A

Part Number: CNETPanasonic Viera TH-P65VT20A

Typical Price: $5,999.00

See manufacturer website for availability.