Panasonic has just shown off its first entry into the 4K (or UHD) TV war.
The special event (held near London’s Covent Garden area) was by invitation only and Techstrike was lucky enough to be one of ten UK sites invited. The TV being shown was Panasonic’s new flagship 65inch 4K WT600B LED panel. After an introduction given by Panasonic experts we were let loose to test and ask questions.
The 4K Experience
The WT600B LED 4K TV (only available in 65inch) was launched at IFA 2013 a few weeks ago in Berlin. Panasonic’s new line of LED panels are set to take over from its plasma range after the company confirmed in the last couple of days that it will stop plasma development this coming Spring. This may come as a shock to some of you. Panasonic’s plasma range (specifically the GT60, VT60 and ZT60) are some of the best panels available on the market. The sheer quality and abundance of features (including THX certification) have led the range to countless awards. Although at the prices these screens are being sold at you should expect the best – The GT60 (of which I am a happy owner) is currently priced around £999 and the ZT60 is priced around £3,999. Panasonic’s flagship models, though, have always been expensive. That’s because they boast exceptional picture quality, colour and contrast. The new WT600B (even though it is an LED screen) is no exception.
The image detail displayed by the WT600B is superb, the colours rich and the blacks pure. Full HD content also looks sharp and full of detail, thanks to the WT600B’s true 4K upscaling capability. The screen is also the only THX certified LED panel on the market today. When we asked the Panasonic representatives how they felt the price justified the features offered they replied, “future-proof”. They explained that the WT600B features full 4K 60P support (the recommended speed at which to watch 4K footage) as well as the new HDMI standard 2.0 which fully supports the 4K format (HDMI 1.4 supports 4K 30P only). Panasonic are also the only manufacturer currently to use the new HDMI 2.0 standard (bearing in mind that companies such as Sony already have 4K panels on the market – presumably only displaying 4K 30P).
Other 4K related features include a 4K internet browser (hi-def maps anyone!?), 4K still picture display and a Panasonic 4K channel displaying the only true 4K content available in the UK at the time of writing (4K transmissions won’t be around for a few years more). One other interesting 4K feature is that the built in SD card reader and USB port both support external 4K content, although only up to 30P.
These and additional features place the WT600B at the top of the 4K tree.
During the introduction given by the Panasonic reps we noticed a “Monitor” picture mode; it turns out that the WT600B has a Mini Display Port on the back (something we’ve never seen on a TV before). This allows you to connect up your Mac or other compatible devices and display full 4K images on screen. Good for professional photographers or video buffs.
Other features as standard include: 3DTV (2 pairs of active glasses supplied), pop-up webcam (useful for Skype), 2000Hz refresh rate, 3x HDMI 1.4 ports, 1x HDMI 2.0 port, WiFi, USB-HDD recording, touch remote with microphone, isf Professional Calibration Mode, twin-tuners and a 176 degree viewing angle…
We did have two major issues with the WT600B. The first was the fact that to watch true 4K at this moment in time you have to live in a city. Why? Because the Panasonic 4K channel requires a minimum 6Mbit (unlimited data – 4K footage is huge!) connection to view 4K content and a recommended 30Mbits for optimal performance – not good if you live in the countryside…
The second issue is the size. As stated above the WT600B is only available as a 65inch screen. The Panasonic experts tell us that the reason why is because 65inches is the minimum suggested size to properly appreciate 4K footage. And although it’s true that the average TV size in the UK is growing, you wouldn’t be able to fit this size screen in most consumers’ front rooms. It’s simply too big!
Other than the issue above we were completely blown away by the new WT600B system. Pin-sharp details, breath taking colour and a nice THX certification too…not bad for a cool £5,500.
For more information on the new 4K range from Panasonic please visit: http://www.panasonic.com/uk/consumer/viera-televisions/led.html