Hands on: Panasonic 65ZT60 plasma review

"Beyond reference", is what Panasonic is calling this flagship plasma. Now that's confidence

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We had expected the latest iteration of Panasonic's king of plasmas to be a numbered upgrade of 2012's awesome VT50 Series, but although a VT60 has dutifully appeared at the CES, its thunder has been politely removed by an all-new plasma that Panasonic is calling "Beyond Reference".

That's impossible, of course - a reference is by definition the ultimate, and can't be bettered - but Panasonic's engineers have certainly given their all on the newborn ZT60 Series.

Including the 60-inch 60ZT60 as well as this 65-incher, the ZT60 uses an all-new Studio Master panel alongside all of Panasonic's latest smart stuff such as voice interaction, Swipe and Share, and Viera Connect apps.

Panasonic 65ZT60 plasma

As befits a new monarch of movies, the 65ZT60 is a stunner on the outside, too. We've rarely been crazy about the outward appearance of a Panasonic TV, but the 65ZT60 breaks the mould with a slim bezel to rival - well, probably last year's - LED TVs. The 65ZT60's plasma panel is actually bonded to the front of the glass itself, principally to remove reflections, though it would appear to have helped boost brightness, too.

Panasonic 65ZT60 plasma

A lack of brightness has historically been a problem for high-end plasmas, and a significant drawback when watched in bright daylight, but it's not an issue here. That's thanks in part to a new pre-discharge control method, and though details were scant, we witnessed some intensely bright white segments if an image on a totally black blackground.

You know something's up when a TV is given its own black-curtained room, and it's to such a place that we were ushered to put the 65ZT60 through its early paces.

Panasonic 65ZT60 plasma

NeoPlasma Black 3000 is the slightly wordy term for a couple of dramatic differences in the tech that has wound-up in the 65ZT60. The first is red – and lots of it.

Using a new red phosphor has enabled a wider colour palette that technically surpasses the parameters of the digital cinema DCI standard. It shows up most dramatically in the appearance of red, which is more nuanced, but also much more powerful, though overall this increased skill with colour lends relatively more depth than in previous models.

Panasonic 65ZT60 plasma

The Studio Master panel also appears to be much sharper. This is surely down to perhaps the 65ZT60's biggest advancement, Ultra Fast 3000 Focused Field Drive, which shortens the light emission to 1/3,000th of a second to eliminate after-images and blur.

It works well, though the increased sharpness appeared to introduce some processing artefacts. A moving shot of fine hair did include some fizzing around the edges, though it only seems to occur during close-ups.

Panasonic 65ZT60 plasma

"LED TVs can outsell plasmas as much as they want - there's no way we're giving up on the best picture tech," said a Panasonic booth attendant to a small audience of speechless AV enthusiasts. He has a good point, because when watched in a blackout the 65ZT60 simply pops eyes.

The step-down VT60 Series of plasmas doesn't offer a bonded panel, but oddly does add a pop-up webcam for instant Skype.

Panasonic 65ZT60 plasma

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.

Tech Specs

Product TypePlasma TV
Scan Format1080p
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports3
Product FamilyViera ZT60
3D Type3D
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size165.1 cm (65")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Memory Card ReaderYes
Wireless LANYes
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
Operating Power Consumption189 W
Dynamic Contrast Ratio6,000,000:1
RMS Output Power20 W
DLNA CertifiedYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand980.44 mm
Width with Stand1508.76 mm
Depth with Stand325.12 mm
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
3D TechnologyShutter
3D ConversionYes
3D Glasses RequiredYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital (SD)
Height886.5 mm
Width1508.8 mm
Depth48.3 mm
Sound SystemSurround Sound
Product SeriesZT60
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesPC Streaming, Media Player, Web Browser
Product ModelTC-P65ZT60
Product NameViera 65" Class ZT60 Series Full HD Plasma TV (64.7" Diag.)
Product LineViera
Manufacturer Part NumberTC-P65ZT60
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

My Home Screen

TV Begins with Your Own Personalized Screen. Get instant and easy access to your favorite Smart TV contents.

The screen menu leads you to a wide variety of content including smart apps, an internet web browser, videos and photos. You have complete access to it all as soon as you turn on the TV.

Swipe & Share 2.0

Easily transfer videos and photos by linking Panasonic's Smart Viera TV to your smartphone or tablet device, and freely share content among friends and family. Use one-finger swipe to share contents, and two-finger swipe to save.