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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
Using the IEC test disc with the ZT60 set for THX cinema, we measured 360 watts.
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.
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.
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 the Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 ♥♥♥♥♥ (five hearts), our highest rating.
Disclosure: The TC-P65ZT60 reviewed is a manufacturer supplied production sample.
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