Panasonic

Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 HDTV-First Review

May 16th, 2013 · 17 Comments · 3D HDTV, Plasma, Review

Panasonic TC-P65VT60 front 580

 

When we first viewed the Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 at the 2013 CES, we were so impressed with the image we chose it as our Top Pick for Best HDTV. Panasonic calls it “ The Reference TV” and offers two plasma panel features unique to this model. The front protective glass is bonded to the front panel glass, and the anti-reflective filter is an upgrade from the one on its VT60 series models. The result: a fantastic looking image! Read on for all the details.

Basics

The TC-P65ZT60 is a 65-inch diagonal screen plasma HDTV. The series is also offered in a 60-inch screen size. Like other 2013 Panasonic HDTVs, it sports a glass and metal design. The front glass extends to the TV edges where it meets a metal trim strip. The underlying bezel is thinner than on the ST60 model we reviewed. Main ZT60 features include the Studio Master panel with no gap between the front glass and the plasma top glass (it’s unique to the ZT60 series), 3000 sub-field drive (each subfield lasts 1/3000th of a second), 1080p HD resolution in 2D and 3D, 2D-3D conversion, Electronic Touch Pen (an optional extra cost accessory), built-in Wi-Fi, VIERA Connect Internet access for Video-on-Demand movies and TV programs, games and other apps, and a web browser.

The ZT60 comes with two remote controls. One is a backlit full size model, and the second is a track pad with a microphone, permitting web search of video, text, or images via speech commands.

Two pairs of Panasonic active 3D glasses are also included.

The only dealer currently offering the TC-P65ZT60 is Magnolia department inside Best Buy brick and mortar stores. They are selling the TC-P65ZT60 for $4099.98. The 60-inch TC-P60ZT60 is also being sold by Magnolia-Best Buy for $3499.98

The TC-P65ZT60 is now available from Amazon direct for $3998.00 and the TC-P60ZT60 is also available from Amazon direct for $2499.98

 

Audio

The ZT60 has two upper midrange/tweeters (5+5 watts) located at the bottom of the TV, angled to push the sound forward into the room. There is a rear-facing midrange woofer with 10-watts power output. The sound is acceptable but hardly up to the image quality of the panel. Purchasers of this TV should add at least a soundbar, but preferably a surround sound system.

Panasonic TC-P65VT60 jack pack 580

Connectivity

The ZT60 has three HDMI inputs (one with Audio Return Channel), three USB 2.0, one component/composite jack using standard RCA jacks, an SD card slot, and an Ethernet jack. The ZT60 accepts AVCHD 3D/Progressive, SD-VIDEO, MPEG4, Motion, MKV, M4v, FLV, 3GPP, VRO, VOB, TS, PS along with JPEG/MPO photos and AAC, Apple Lossless/WAV, FLAC, and MP3 music files. We would have liked to see a fourth HDMI input (an expectation for HDTVs in this price range).

Picture Controls

The ZT60 has ten picture modes: Vivid, Standard, Home Theater, THX bright room, THX cinema, Custom, Cinema, EBU, Professional 1 (ISF Day), and Professional 2 (ISF Night). There is a copy feature that permits your picture settings to be transferred to each input. Also included are 10-point gamma control (only particular picture modes), motion smoothing (with accompanying soap opera effect), and 48 or 96 refresh for 24 FPS-based content (movies and some video).

Color Management, White Balance and other advanced controls are under the “Pro Settings” and are available in the Custom, Cinema, and ISF1, and ISF 2 picture modes. In the other picture modes they are grayed out.

The ZT controls include a nifty copy settings function that permits your pictures settings to be transferred to the other inputs at a push of a button.

3D

We tested for crosstalk and found none visible with Monster and Aliens church scene. We also auditioned Jurassic Park 3D. It was also crosstalk free and not bad looking 3D effects considering the movie was filmed in 2D and recently converted to 3D.

Power Consumption

Using the IEC test disc with the ZT60 set for THX cinema, we measured 360 watts.

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Picture Quality

We broke in the panel for 200 hours prior to testing using network TV signals. After reviewing all the picture modes and settings we settled on the two THX modes for most of our testing. While Custom permits complete control of all the ZT60s available settings, the THX default(s) are very close to optimal, providing near full ISF calibration accuracy at the push of a button. The latest THX spec covers 3D as well as 2D, meeting over 400 picture quality data points for an HDTV to achieve certification.

Using our Sencore window test pattern, the TC-P65ZT60 achieved 30.4 ft. lamberts brightness in the THX Cinema Mode and became our default. The THX Bright Room Mode measured 42.3 ft. lamberts, bright enough for almost day environments. The blacks (minimum illumination level) read .0011 ft. lamberts in either mode (this is so low it is scrapping the accuracy of our meter as well as requiring a very dark environment which meant covering up a number of equipment power on lights) to see this low level of black illumination. To confirm the depth of the blacks we made a side-by-side black comparison against the highly rated Panasonic TC-P65ST60 we recently reviewed. The minimum light level visually appeared as about half the level on the ST60 (which came in at .0020 ft lamberts in our review), confirming our meter reading.

The ZT60 creates a contrast ratio of 38,454.54 to 1 in Bright Room Mode and 27,636.26 to 1 in the THX Cinema Mode. We also performed adjustments in the Custom Mode. We obtained a maximum light output of 47.1 ft. lamberts.

The panel’s anti-reflective filter is the best we have ever seen, sucking up ambient room light and creating jet black blacks with very low to medium ambient light conditions. You’ll need to get the room really dark to see any illumination in the blacks. However there is a tradeoff, some brightness falloff above the panel which we noticed when we stood five feet from the screen. The filter performs two functions: It acts like miniature venetian blinds significantly blocking overhead light sources reflecting off the screen into your eyes. It also acts like an ambient light roach motel. Light can get in, but it doesn’t appear to get reflected back out off the panel’s internals, making black 2.35 bars appear dead black with the presence of ambient room light. No filter including the ZT60’s will even remotely kill a lamp or light source directly opposite the screen (and neither will any large screen TVs filter whether it’s on an LED LCD or plasma screen. The filter acts as an absorber of diffuse room light hitting the screen.

Color points were very close to the Rec. 709 HDTV standard using THX Cinema Mode. They measured as follows with the spec in parentheses: Red x.639 y.330 (x.640 y.330); Green x.300 y.610 (x.300 y.600); Blue x.015 y .056 (x.015 y .060). White measured at 20 IRE x.313 y.336 at 80 IRE x.314 y.335. There is a Color Management Mode in custom (and a few other modes) which permits fine tuning of the color points. There are also extended color modes, especially redder reds in extended modes.

Video processing aced all the standard definition and high definition HQV tests with one note. 3:2 pulldown required the setting in the “on” position; it would fail in the “auto” mode. This is not a problem because we would set the ZT60 to the 96 Hz mode with 24 Hz material, providing smooth pans.

All noise reduction and mixed video with film content tests passed as well as the other HD and SD HQV tests. We rate the processing on par with the best we’ve seen from other TV makers. Streaming video quality, while not near HD due to the low resolution of many on-line videos, is less visually offensive. Panasonic improved algorithms for streaming video, and it appears successful.

Viewing

We looked at a variety of cable TV, Blu-ray, and some streaming content. We were constantly impressed by the accurate dark detail reproduction, HDTV color, and the deep, deep blacks. The TC-P65ZT60, along with its bonded front filter glass, creates blacks that appear completely inky if there is just a slight amount of ambient light in the room. Its black level is the deepest of any 2013 (or 2012 model we tested). In The Dark Knight Rises, at 1:10:12 (the tunnel and fight scene with Catwoman), Batman and Bane serves as an example of the ZT60’s ability to provide very dark detail as seen in the costumes and tunnel details, while keeping high dynamic range with the bright lights lining the tunnel.

Conclusion

No other 2013 HDTV to date is capable of producing blacks this deep. There are no announced 2013 LED LCD HDTVs with full backlights and local dimming, so there is no competition on the horizon for this year. If OLED (the only technology capable of deeper black levels) ever reaches dealer shelves in the US this year (it is looking doubtful as LG and Samsung keep pushing back the introduction dates), the first generation models will be limited to 55  and are expected to sell for north of $10,000. No 55-inch TV provides as immersive “big-screen” experience as you can get with a 65-inch or larger TV screen.

The word that sums up the TC-P65ZT60 picture quality is extraordinary. It is the best display we have tested to date. As this is a very significant year for improvements in picture quality, especially with plasma displays, we have decided to hold the benchmark set by the TC-P65ST60 as the minimum performance level that warrants our top five heart rating. To maintain a level playing field amongst the different brands and models we will keep the same criteria for the remainder of the2013 model year. HD Guru awards 5 out of 5the Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 ♥♥♥♥♥ (five hearts), our highest rating.
 

Disclosure: The TC-P65ZT60 reviewed is a manufacturer supplied production sample.

 

 

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Jim

    Hey there,

    As the VT and ZT panasonic have all but disappeared or cost 4000-6000 dollars now, how much of a consolation is a samsung pn64f8500?

    Thanx, jim

    The F8500 is an excellent TV and earned our highest (5 out of 5 hearts) rating. The black level is the same as the VT60 and maximum brightness is considerably brighter than the ZT or VT.

    Our Samsung sources says the model will continue this year and will be able to get Samsung 2014 GUI and features with its Evolution Kit, expected around this April.

    HD Guru

  • Howard Rosen

    If I’m watching in a dark room(minimal sunlight) mainly HDTV will the VT model give similar quality at a significantly lower price

    The VT does not have the deeper blacks of the ZT, resulting in a higher contrast ratio when using the ZT over the VT.

    HD Guru

  • stefan

    Question to the reviewer. “We obtained a maximum light output of 47.1 ft. lamberts” is this in full white screen like ST60 for max output or it is window pattern.

    We use a window pattern for all TV brightness testing. Without getting too technical, plasma TVs all have a limiting circuit that kicks in when displaying a full white screen. As this rarely occurs in normal viewing (an example of a rare exception would be a skier on a snow covered mountain). We feel the window pattern provides a more accurate reading of what real world brightness the display will produce with 99.+% of TV content.

    HD Guru

  • bill

    thank you, guru.

  • bill

    i bought the 65zt60 a few weeks ago. i’m in the process of finishing the break-in period. fan noise. i literally hear it in the adjacent room. i can’t believe panasonic let this slip through. i’ve read on line that there is a foam strip fix that they have unofficially issued. i’ve also read that with the back panel off, there is no noise. my question then. if the back panel is removed and the tv is wall mounted, is this a problem? not a warranty problem, but a physical problem in the performance or maintenance of the tv itself.
    thanks.

    We don’t know, however the back panel serves a number of purposes, not the least is protecting fingers from touching live components that could give one a severe electrical shock. The panel may also be needed to enforce structural integrity and possibly to direct air flow to the fans. We highly DO NOT recommend removing the back panel.

    We will pass along your complaint to Panasonic and will add a response when received. In the meantime, we suggest you call Panasonic customer service about the noise and see if the can provide a warranty fix that attenuates it, as it could be something wrong like noisy bearings in your fan motor(s).

    Panasonic Responds

    “Panasonic was recently made aware of instances where the cooling fans in some of our Smart VIERA ZT60 and VT60 models created an audible noise that was at times disruptive to users. Panasonic engineers investigated the issue and determined that in some instances the air flow induced by the cooling fans created a low frequency humming noise. If you are experiencing this issue with your unit, a fix is now available and can be handled via a free in-home service call which can be arranged by contacting Panasonic Customer Service at 1-800-211-PANA (7262).”

    HD Guru

  • James from MO

    Thanks for the review. We just purchased the 65″ version of the ZT60 today and it should arrive next week. Do you recommend a good 3D Blu-Ray unit to go with this unit?
    Thanks in advance.

  • felex

    the only time I can hear the fans is in a quiet room. other wise I don’t. using it as a monitor on certain tnt channels I have a flickering white line at the very top of the screen.

    The white line on top is within the ATSC standard for HDTV broadcasts. You can make the image larger by going from Size 1 to Size 2 (it may be the other way around, as I do not recall right now) which will push the line off the screen buy also no longer provide a 1:1 pixel view, thereby creating some possible aliasing artifacts.

    HD GURU

  • Gary

    This TV is amazing in person, even in bright store lighting everyone stops to have a look because the contrast immediately grabs their attention. Hopefully Panasonic continues producing these ‘studio master’ panels well into the future even in the face of market competition from LCD

  • bill

    your results for the black and brightness levels using the sencore window test pattern, was this a full window pattern or a ansi checkerboard reading?
    thanks.

    We test with the 0 IRE pattern and 100 IRE window pattern unless otherwise noted. In my opinion, based on experience the checkerboard pattern due to the amount of light it throws off into the room and reflects back on the panel, makes it impossible to get an accurate reading when the blacks are at the measured level. Testing black on the ZT required covering up the power lights on other gear in the room as they also affected the readings.

    HD Guru

  • Scoop

    When you say Panasonic has improved its algorithms for streaming video, is that only when you stream Netflix (or whatever) through the TV itself or does it also do better with a streaming feed from a Roku (or whatever) than its predecessors?

    How far down the Panasonic line does the improvement stretch?

  • Noel

    So does this TV even exceed, or match, the quality of the Pioneer Elites that to date people have said were the best TV’s ever made?

  • fred hess

    I in joyed your review that is why I brought a p60zt60. the only thing is they keep putting off a delivery date. do you know of any problem they may be having that would keep them doing this.

  • Inaba Kazuhiro

    現在VIERA vt45

    使用していますが、このtvに買い替えたら、外付けHDDhはフォーマットせずに使えるのでしょうか?

  • SamsungFan

    What about the Samsung F8500 – also getting good reviews – your thoughts?

    We plan to have a review up next week.
    HD Guru

  • Billy

    Thanks for the review. How did the motion resolution compare with says Plasmas from 5 years ago like the Kuro ??

  • Andy Sullivan

    I realize that you can review any display that you want and I also realize that videophiles everywhere have been salivating over the release of the ZT60. But it’s only been available for a few days and yet the Sony R550a has been available for over a month and no reviews. The fact that Sony is offering their first 70″ display since the LCOS days is news itself. At $2500 the Sony will outsell the ZT60 by a wide margin yet this display gets no ink. Disappointed.

    We would like to review the R550 model. We put in our requests but a number of companies don’t make review samples available so we must choose what is offered by the vendors. Sometimes product becomes available later in the year. We will keep plugging away.

    HD Guru

  • Jonthomasdesigns

    Great review ! How are the fans ? I have had 2 65″VT60 s and the fans are both very loud and noticeable pulsing sound .. Did you notice that issue on the ZT ? Do you know if they use the same fans ? Thank you very much !

    In our test room, if the A/C, heat and nearby fridge are off, and TV sound off, we can make out the whirring of the two fans (I don’t know if they are the same but we do have a VT60 in our review queue so we will look into it and report). With TV sound on it is often drowned out. If any of the above systems is on then we can’t hear its as they are far louder. Could it be quieter, probably. However, we add the panel does not have any buzz, which is not the case another brand plasma that is in final testing. Stay tuned.

    HD Guru

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