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Panasonic TH-65PX600U 65-inch Plasma HDTV Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 April 2007
Article Index
Panasonic TH-65PX600U 65-inch Plasma HDTV
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The Downside
The TH-65PX600U’s main performance issue is one I’ve found with other Panasonic plasmas: processing. The TV’s scaling is solid; as I mentioned, 480i DVDs lack some detail, but neither DVD nor SDTV is excessively soft. It’s the deinterlacing that is a concern. Stair-stepping and shimmer were consistently evident with 480i SDTV signals, be they film- or video-based. The TV created noticeable jaggies in my standard DVD torture test from chapter 12 of Gladiator (DreamWorks) and didn’t fare much better with video-based DVD signals, like my Pilates DVD (Guthy-Renker) – all of those diagonals give a TV quite the workout. If you’re still watching a lot of standard-definition DVD movies, you’ll want to mate this TV with a good progressive-scan or upconverting DVD player.

Wisely, Panasonic has paid more attention to the TV’s deinterlacing ability with 1080i content. The HQV HD DVD test disc revealed that it correctly deinterlaces 1080i and picks up the 3:2 signal with 1080i film content, although it’s somewhat slow in doing so. I saw fewer artifacts with 1080i HDTV and high-def DVD content, but they didn’t disappear entirely. With the Black Hawk Down BD, I perceived a bit more detail when receiving 1080p from the Samsung player, as opposed to 1080i, suggesting that the player’s internal deinterlacer does a better job. The best solution to the processing dilemma is to invest in a high-quality 1080p scaler through which you can route all of your signals, but it isn’t an absolute necessity.

Digital noise was also a minor concern. As I mentioned earlier, the TH-65PX600U will expose quality differences between signal types, and the larger screen made it easier to see compression artifacts like mosquito noise and blocking in my HD cable signal. A 1080p display can reveal more high-frequency noise in a signal. With lesser-quality HD feeds from TNT, PBS, or NBC, I noticed a fair amount of noise in background details, while the better feeds from CBS, Discovery HD, and HDNet were usually pretty clean. Essentially, the TH-65PX600U won’t do much to make an inferior signal look better, but it does allow high-quality DVD, HDTV, and high-definition DVD signals to look their best.

The other day, a colleague and I were discussing the mystique that surrounds larger flat panels. We both use projectors in our home entertainment set-ups, so we enjoy a big-screen image every single day. And yet, for some reason, we’re still enticed by the thought of a 65-inch plasma. I don’t know if it’s the product’s physical presence in the room or its formerly astronomical price tag that gives it such an air of luxury, but there’s no denying that a big-screen plasma is just plain sexy.

Are you prepared to pay for that sexiness, for the reaction this panel may garner in your living room? The TH-65PX600U renders gorgeous HDTV and high-definition DVD images. But, truth be told, if picture quality and screen size are the only things you care about, you can get an even larger and equally attractive 1080p image for about half the cost, thanks to the recent crop of 1080p projectors priced around the $5,000 mark. Many people avoid two-piece projection systems because of the ergonomic challenges they present, but I think we’ve established here that the TH-65PX600U isn’t without its share of set-up obstacles. (By the way, Panasonic offers various levels of set-up assistance for a cost.) The decision to invest in the TH-65PX600U is about more than just picture quality and ergonomics. For one, it’s about flexibility, wanting to enjoy that beautiful picture day or night, outside the confines of a dedicated theater space – something most projectors can’t offer. Above all, it’s about sex appeal, about owning a TV that will have your friends and neighbors talking. Of course, if you really wanted to get them talking, you’d go for the 103-inch Panasonic plasma. I wonder how many people it takes to get that one out of the box.

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