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The Panasonic TX-P65VT50 has all the credentials it needs to be the daddy of all 2012 TVs. For starters, it's 65 inches from corner to corner, making most TVs look puny by comparison. It also boasts the very top tier of Panasonic's latest plasma panel technology, including a special high-contrast filter designed to deliver hitherto unimaginable contrast.
It packs dual-core processing too, which it uses to deliver excellent multitasking for the TV's online features, as well as Panasonic's most accomplished video processing system to date. This produces particularly excellent motion and colour handling, but also seems to enhance the set's standard definition upscaling.
There are a couple of image flaws you need to work around, but so long as you do this then as a serious movie machine, there really is nothing else out there right now to touch the Panasonic TX-P65VT50.
The 65-inch screen size brings movies and 3D content to life like nothing smaller ever could - especially as every inch of it is filled with spectacular, high-contrast, colourful and detail-rich images of unprecedented quality. The Panasonic TX-P65VT50's multimedia talents mostly hit the right notes, too, and 3D is as good as we've ever seen it.
The pictures tend to lose quite a bit of their punch if you happen to be watching them in a very bright room. There's a little dot crawl over motion too if you drive the picture quality too hard or sit too close, and some flickering problems if you leave the set in its Dynamic preset. But all these issues are pretty easy to avoid.
After seeing its plasma TV rivals gain on it substantially last year, Panasonic has pulled out all the stops for 2012 to put clear blue water again between its top-tier plasmas and the chasing pack. In fact, its efforts have resulted in the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 delivering the best pictures we've yet seen from a flatscreen TV - including the legendary Pioneer Kuro sets.
There are still one or two areas Panasonic could work on to nudge even closer to perfection, but if you love watching films and can afford the entrance fee, the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 is pure home cinema heaven.
To be honest, the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 is so good that we're tempted to say you shouldn't consider buying anything else. But of course, not everyone will be able to afford the £3,500 (around $5,490) asking price.
If you want most of the quality of the VT50 series for a bit less money, you could consider Panasonic's GT50 series. But there's no 65-inch model available here, and the sets don't get the same level of high-contrast filter.
The most compelling alternative to the Panasonic TX-P65VT50 from a rival brand is Sony's 55HX853. This is surprisingly affordable, and thanks to a brilliant new local dimming system for its Edge LED lighting, it delivers the best black levels yet seen from Edge LED technology.
Another option would be the excellent 55-inch Samsung UE55ES8000. This needs a bit of care with setup to get the best out of it for watching films - in particular you need to sacrifice substantial luminance to get a convincing black level and backlight uniformity. But you can get there in the end, and with normal daytime TV viewing its pictures are outstanding. It looks the part, too.
Next there's the phenomenally affordable Sharp 60LE636, which you can get your hands on, amazingly, for under a grand if you shop around. This looks great with bright material, but be warned that there are backlight uniformity issues during dark scenes.
A final option to mention here is the LG 55LM660T. This has a few backlight flaws too, but its pictures generally look great, and its passive 3D technology is the family-friendly option.
John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.