Panasonic VIERA WT600 4K TV review
Panasonic had been saving its 4K TV announcement for its IFA Press Conference this week rather than earlier this year, instead concentrating on its incredible ZT65 plasma. Once the HDMI Forum confirmed the HDMI 2.0 specification, however, the time was right to reveal the VIERA WT600. It's the first 4K TV capable of playing Ultra High Definition video at 60p, so we made sure to take a look.
With the same gorgeously minimal mirror finish stand, ultra-slim transparent bezel and illuminated Panasonic logo as the top-end 1080p WT65 LCD model, the 65in WT600 looks stunning even before you get a closer look at the screen. Of course it's the 3,840x2,160 resolution, LED-backlit LCD display that will turn heads once you pump some 4K content through the HDMI 2.0-compatible inputs. The level of detail is breathtaking, either in close-up shots or landscapes, although we're still waiting for the first 4K film footage rather than some sped-up timelapse photography to really test picture quality.
As the first TV with a built-in 4K H.264 video decoder, you'll be able to stream 4K content from the web (assuming you have fiber optic internet with cables the width of dinner plates) or from USB flash drives as well as through HDMI 2.0-ready media players. The WT600 is THX-certified for 4K video, which is another world first. Once you have some content to play on it, playback can be a silky-smooth 60p too: watching two demonstration WT600s sat side-by-side, a fast-paced football match looked far smoother at 60p than 30p, which could make it the TV to buy for 4K sports. However, we still expect films to stick with 24p frame rates once 4K home media arrives, so this isn't going to revolutionize home cinema.
Panasonic's My Home smart TV interface has been upgraded with 4K visuals, and can be controlled using either the regular remote control or touchpad remote, which will be returning with voice control last seen in the DT65. Other features include DisplayPort 1.2a inputs, which promise 4K compatibility with the latest PC graphics cards, and a built-in camera for Skype video calls.
As an LED-backlit LCD TV, the WT600 naturally wasn't as eye-searingly bright and colourful as OLED, but footage still looked vibrant on the Panasonic stand. We didn't get the chance to see the TV in the dark, so can't pass judgment on how it will perform for films, but we have high hopes based on Panasonic's stellar track record with high-end LCD TVs.
Although it's too soon to call a winner in this new round of 4K TV releases, the WT600 is most definitely a poke in the eye for anyone that has bought into Ultra HD already. We'll be eagerly awaiting its arrival in the UK to bring you a full review. Panasonic will be bringing the WT600 to the US in October for $6,000. Prices and release dates for other territories are still to be confirmed, so we'll just have to hold tight until we know the details.
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