September 5th, 2008 · 19 Comments · Plasma, Review

Panasonic has just unveiled its latest and highest performing plasma display, the TH-65VX100. It is part of a new Premiere series of displays designed specifically for the custom installation market. The initial model is a 65” 1080p monitor (no built-in speakers). I was able to obtain an early production sample (the TH-65VX1000 plasma is scheduled for release in late December 2008) to test and review.

This new Premier plasma panel retails for $9999 and boasts the highest contrast and lowest black levels of any Panasonic HD display with a rated contrast ratio of 60,000:1. In addition, Panasonic has increased its signal processing to 18-bits for 7,160 equivalent steps of gradation. Panasonic widened the color gamut as well, to a rated spec of 120% of Rec. 709, the HDTV standard. A Panasonic spokesperson said the improvements within the panel when compared to its top consumer model the TH-PZ850U include improved glass filters for lower reflectivity and an increase of the residual discharge of the panel from 1/3 of the “idle” level of previous generation levels, to 1/6th the “idle” level with the VX100, resulting in the best black level performance in Panasonic plasma history. A Panasonic engineer said this was aided with the addition of a new magnesium oxide layer within the panel as well as thinner cell walls to increase the “aperture” making more of the surface area active (being able to emit light) for higher light output. This combintion of darker blacks and brighter whites produce a higher contrast ratio.
The TH-65VX100’s feature set reflects Panasonic target audience, high on performance and low on ordinary TV functions, with the first being the omission of a built-in HDTV or analog tuner. As mentioned above, this is a monitor. Other TV “omissions” include standard definition source inputs, namely composite and S-video. The TH-65VX1000 has four HDMI jacks (all rear), one component video, and one PC input (VGA). There is also a RS-232 jack for control for automation systems by Creston, AMX and other remote control companies. The inputs are mounted into removable boards (two HDMIs per board). Panasonic plans to offer other input boards including one with HD SDI (most suited for broadcasters and production studios), one with a DVI input and another with S-video and composite standard definition inputs.

The TH-65VX100 is finished black with a dull black brushed aluminum bezel to avoid screen or room reflections on the frame. The panel 61.181” (W) x 36.417” (H) x 3.897” (D). A table stand is an extra coast option.

The user interface allows separate settings (color, brightness, tint etc.) for each input as well as 8 locking memories to prevent unwanted adjustments of image parameters. There are also user adjustments for gamma as well as drives and cuts for white balance adjustments.

Panasonic boasts a new improved image processor not found in its consumer panels, as well as a full bypass mode for buyers that would prefer an upgraded external scaler that’s built into some top line surround sound receivers and pre/processors or a separate scaler such as the Flexible Picture Systems HQV Insight with the Silicon Optix Realta chip.

Prior to making my viewing observations, I optimized the user controls and calibrated the TH-65VX1000 very close to d6500K ideal color temperature. All measurements were made after calibration. Image brightness using a 10% window pattern at 100IRE measured 30.5ft. Lamberts, a level comparable to top rated calibrated LCDs and plasma panels previously tested. Next primary color points were measured. The results:

Red x.666 y.323
Green x.265 y.660
Blue x.154 y.068

These results are close to the Digital Cinema Initiative Standard:
DCI Stan Red x .680 y.320
DCI Stan Green x .265 y.690
DCI Stand Blue x.150 y.060.

The primary color coordinates of red and blue were close the ones I recorded from the latest 50” Pioneer Elite Kuro HDTV and measured:

Color Space 1 Red x .670 y.322
Color Space 1 Green x. 269 y.654
Color Space 1 Blue x. 146 y.059

Next, internal scaler tests were performed. Using 1080i signal, I checked deinterlacing and 3:2 film conversion. The Premier passed both tests making it the first Panasonic plasma with perfect 3:2 HD processing. Static and motion resolution came in at 1080 and 850 lines respectively, slightly shy of the 900 line plasma record, but better than any LCD tested to date. The Panasonic has full bandwidth clear showing black and white sing pixel wide vertical lines. There are the usual aspect ratio controls including 1:1 that was verified to produce an image with no overscan.

A Panasonic spokesman said this is panel has a new signal processor chip, and it did a good job with HD sources and withg the Silicon Optix HQV HD jaggies tests. However, it did a poor job on the standard definiton (480i) Silicon Optix jaggies tests and only a fair job on the SD waving flag test.

With all adjustments and tests completed, I conducted a side by side comparison with the latest generation Pioneer Kuro 50”. The results proved interesting. The Pioneer won on ultimate black level, being a smidgen darker than the Panasonic. Both displays blacks were too dark to be measured accurately using my light meter. With the lights off, and 2:35 content on screen, I could not discern where the bezel ended and the panel began producing the black bars of the letterboxed 2:35 image on either display.
I compared a number of Blu-ray discs and HD cable fare with the two displays side by side. Both panels produced excellent images. However, the Pioneer’s anti-reflective screen coating proved more effective than the one Panasonic employs, in reducing in-room reflections. The extra effectiveness came at a cost; it adds a purple-reddish tint to the image that was clearly seen with both displays side by side. Calibration was not a solution; it is the nature of the KURO panel.

The other major difference between the KURO and the Panasonic Premiere is the way they revealed dark detail. The KURO takes a higher level signal to come out of black, which caused details in dark movies (think Batman Begins and Alien Versus Predator) to be obscured. The same content on the Panasonic revealed the dark details the KURO hid.

The conclusion? The new Panasonic TH-65VX100 is overall the best flat panel tested to date, and should be considered by anyone contemplating a flat screen display in the 60”-65” screen size range.

Copyright ©2008 Gary Merson/HD Guru® All rights reserved. HD GURU is a registered trademark. The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.


19 Comments so far ↓

  • Alejandro

    I am moving very soon to live in Spain, and already have the Panasonic TH65PF11UK, let me tell you I love it like a son!! thus now its part of the family. I read in the specs that it is PAL compatible, if I just take a powerful 220-120v converter (2000 watt) will that be all I need to make it work in Europe??

  • gt350

    Does anyone have a opinion if the 65-11 is better or the 65-100 is better?

  • Michael Leader

    Obviously both the Panasonic and Pioneer panels make great pictures. I work in Digital Cinema and spend much of my life in Post production facilities. I almost NEVER see a Pioneer flat panel product in even a board room. Panasonic’s (claibrated) abound in technical areas where necessary, but none are considered a “Grade 1” reference any cost.

    I have often noted that, all Panasonic professional series displays consume more juic out of the wall than Pioneers…and “others”. In tis case the Panasonic 60″ is 755 watts…and the Pioneer is 524 watts. Something definately IS going on deep inside these competing units. I do not want to hear that the Pioneer is “more efficient”. All makers have access to the same levels of technology and well understand power supply designs. My simple question….if Pioneer is so great, why do I never see them in exceptionaly hi-end post production facilities….and….across the broad range of Panasonic displays, why do they consume more power than the competition? Certainly one issue is the processing power and performance of Panasonic operating at 16 to 18 bits.

    By the way…a premium Grade One Studio monitor is in the $ 30,000 price range….so, $ 9,000 for a great 65 incher in my book is a bargain! and, the Panasonic will display studio HD-SDI which i very much doubt Pioneer will do.


    Michael Leader

  • Captain Pedro

    Oh, well. Pioneer is OUT OF THERE now anyway…

  • maxnix

    Funny, but Panasonic manufactures the Kuro Plasma display, with Pioneer only adding on some proprietary electronics, right?

    Who said Panasonic produces annual changes in their Professional models? They don’t. Technology and manufacturing processes drive their model changes, not the calendar.

  • plasmaman

    There ar a number of things that make up good picture.

    1. Black level. If black ain’t black it is gray.

    2. Colour reproduction. Red should be red-Orange is orange and grass is green. So no orange Ferrari F! cars and no flourescent green/yellow sports fields.

    3. Contrast ratio. As with black, white should not look gray.

    4. Number of levels of gray achievable. The more you can resolve, the better the picture looks. In bright areas it is not so important but in dark areas of the picture it is vital.

    It is clear that the Panasonic is not a KURO killer because as mentioned earlier the is a price difference and they are clearly the two best in class by some way.

    As I read what the HD Guru wrote, I saw that on balance the Panasonic was “better overall”.

    Finally to the person that said that TV/Movies should not be viewed in darkness or close to dark. Would you judge a HiFi when played next to working jackhammer?

  • Brian

    Wow, seems there’s quite a few fanboys drinking the Pioneer coolaid. Interesting review, but does the new Panny accept and display 1080p/24 without flickering? I think that was the key difference between it and the Kuro in the last generation showdown. Might be an idea for Pioneer to provide a discount on sedatives for their rabid fan base.

  • Chad

    Your post is the most misinformed post I have read in a long time.
    You do realize that the Pioneer Kuro outperforms any TV on the market don’t you??
    If you think I am wrong take a trip over to CNET or ask any respectable ISF calibrator and they will tell you that the Kuro performs better in the most KEY areas than any display ever made. thats not an opinion, thats a fact.

    And contrary to your uninformed statement that “pioneer sold its plasma buisness to panasonic”, Pioneer is using Panasonic as a contract manufacturer to Build the PDP module (glass) of thier 10th generation Kuro TO PIONEER SPECIFICATIONS!!!!
    This means pioneer will still be pioneer designed.
    Only the glass will be manufactured by panasonic and the rest of the panel (electronics, processing, driving technology, etc.) will still be made by Pioneer.
    Maybe you should read up some more before posting such ill informed non-sense.

  • kamm

    KURO was always a joke, an overpriced, marketing-based trick and it didn’t even work, Pio lost a fortune in the past couple of years, thanks to the enormous costs – it’s a failed attempt and they knew it hence they sold their panel business to Panasonic.
    Now Panasonic is raping Pioneer’s @ss and everybody knows it (sans the usual clueless fanboys and -girls who apparently after all this public embarrassment of Pio still think Kuro is some magical, exclusive panel technology LOL.)

  • DavidLee

    Why would anyone spend that kind of money when you can get an excellent 52″ Vizio for 1/5 of the price?! You get a whole lot more bang for your buck and you aren’t bankrupt at the end of the day!

  • Tijs

    any word on usb ports?, is it gonna be slimmer than the 800 series?

  • ultra

    ALSO !! you nerds. Its not that Panasonic caught up to Pionner since Pioneers were always 4x as much cash.

  • ultra

    Well if the kuro cant display darks properly the image will look fake like on most lcd hdtvs. shadows are what makes plasmas excelent..

    I noticed that there is not Phosphor lag on the pictures is this problem finaly fixed?

    10k is to much I hope the 50″ cost around 2k. I will buy it .

  • HD 2000

    How it compares to TH-65PZ850U?


  • Candido Dessanti

    yap panasonic catched up pioneer (but not in black department)… hey they have surpassed pioneer going for the double of the price.

    good job panasonic

  • Steve

    Bill I disagree – LCD sets in “dimly lit”, “normal”, “dark”, etc., rooms are very easy to distinguish from plasma’s whenever any sort of content is on the screen, particularly 2.40:1 content.

    Black levels disappear on a plasma, they NEVER do during content on an LCD.

    As for movie viewing, yes I imagine most people watch movies with the lights off. You don’t see too many movie theatres that have anything more than dim floor guides when the movie plays do you?

  • bill

    When will this lunacy end???
    Comparing “blacks” really makes little sense . . .
    except for those who intend to watch television in a completely darkened room all the time.
    The “black level” available on just about any 2008/9 model TV, whether LCD or Plasma is below the visual acuity range of most humans in a VERY dimily lit room . . . increase room lighting to just plain “real dim” or even “normal” and there’s just nothing to be gained by pushing this envelope any further . . . except bragging rights and higher prices, I guess.

  • Chad

    Hey Gary,
    I was just wondering why you are comparing a 2009 Panasonic to a 2008 Kuro??
    Pioneer Extreme contrast concept (10G 2009 model) has already been unvieled at CES.
    This is the TV you should be comparing to the panny.
    And by the way,
    What was the reason that you claim the panny to be the new king??
    I only saw one area where you said the panny was better than the Kuro (shadow detail).

  • Gus738

    this new panasonic is not worth it, because the pioneer signiture 60″ cost 5k-6k and its better then the panasonic, an extra 5k for 5″ more?

    its not a kuro killer but its within the 8th generation kuro legue, it wont touch the 9th generation kuro.

    The  60″Pioneer Signature will be arriving soon and will be in a face off review against the Panasonic


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