Usability

The Panasonic TX-P65VT50 tries hard to make itself a no-brainer to use, but not all of its efforts pay off.

The TV's main set up menus are OK. They're not the prettiest in town by any means, but they're reasonably well organised, their text is very legible, and there are brief on-screen explanations of what each feature you highlight does.

A Tools button on the remote, meanwhile, takes you to a simple jump off menu for accessing content stored on USB drives, SD cards or PCs, while a separate internet button takes you to Panasonic's Viera Connect menus.

The main menus here are a mixed bag. On the one hand the very large icons make the system feel friendly and colourful. But unfortunately they also mean you can't fit much content on screen at once, requiring you to delve through numerous layers of icons to find all the apps at your disposal.

Panasonic TX-P65VT50 review

You can, at least, rearrange the order of the apps, so that you can put your favourites on the home screen. But it still seems likely that Panasonic will eventually have to shift to a smaller icon system as content levels on Viera Connect continue to rise.

In fact, a glimpse of the potential future of Panasonic's Viera Connect menu might be seen in the excellent presentation of the Viera Marketplace, from where you can buy both software and hardware using the smart TV world's first fully functioning secure, online payment system. Here the icon size seems much better judged, enabling you to see many more options on-screen at once, and there's some impressive use of quick content-finding shortcut lists on the screen's left side.

Also excellent is the multitasking system introduced this year on Panasonic's dual-core TVs. This makes using all the smart features on the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 much easier, and definitely led to us using these features more extensively than we tend to on normal smart TV operating systems.

A great touch in control terms is the Viera Control app you can download for free for iOS and Android devices. This makes great use of the touchscreen controls of your smart device, and even enables you to easily share content on your device with the TV, or reproduce the video on the TV on the screen of your portable device.

Panasonic TX-P65VT50 review

However, while we appreciate the thought behind Panasonic including a second remote control for free with the Panasonic TX-P65VT50, the design of this second touchpad remote is poor. The touchpad area is too small, its circular shape doesn't gel well with the rectangular screen you're trying to control a cursor on, and having to tap the pad to select an option leads to lots of accidental cursor movements and incorrect selections.

It doesn't help, either, that the pressure you need to apply to your taps of the pad seems to differ almost every time you use it.

Sound

Accompanying the mostly sensational pictures of the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 is some good sound. Not brilliant - not quite as brilliant, in fact, as we might have hoped from such a mammoth screen - but certainly satisfactory.

The speakers make good enough use of their 8-train design to ensure that there's both excellent clarity and plenty of volume. But the mid-range doesn't exhibit as much breathing room as we'd like during action scenes, and a touch more deep bass wouldn't have gone amiss, either.

Value

Handing over around £3,500 (around $5,490) for a TV is clearly not something that most people will be able to contemplate. And there's an argument to be made that you could get a bigger picture still for considerably less money if you opt for a projector instead.

But projectors come with all sorts of hassles where room lighting and set up are concerned, so just don't fit in with most people's normal living spaces.

Panasonic TX-P65VT50 review

We guess you can also argue that the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 is expensive versus most rival big-screen televisions. But then it's also substantially better than any of them, especially when it comes to the all-important business of watching films or playing games.

It's worth considering, too, that you get two pairs of 3D glasses free with the Panasonic TX-P65VT50, while you don't get any with models lower down Panasonic's range.

Overall, we actually find the price to be quite fair - even if it's likely to be aggravatingly beyond most people's reach.