Panasonic’s first 4K TV launched in the UK a couple of weeks ago – the snappily named TC-L65WT600 is 65″ of massive telly – and might impressive it looks too. Whilst this certainly can’t be considered a review, I have seen the TV up close – and it’s got some really interesting features inside.
What can plug into it?
There’s 4 HDMI slots – one HDMI 2.0, which can support 4K pictures at up to 60 frames-per-second (fps), and three on the older HDMI 1.4 standard (30fps).
There’s also support for DisplayPort 1.2A – which at the moment is the only computing standard that can output 4K. That said – not many computers support it, but one of the big ones that do is the new Mac Pro, which was unveiled earlier this week by Apple.
Also inside is two Freesat and two Freeview tuners – which means you can not only do picture-in-picture, but also use the TV as a DLNA server to pump the picture to other devices (such as your mobile or tablet).
And of course, there’s built in wifi for connecting to the internet, to take advantage of all of the advanced features of the telly.
What’s the picture quality like?
From what I saw on Panasonic’s demo… pretty spectacular! The only proper 4K video we got to see was essentially demo footage – some lovely nature footage, and the camera slowly moving around an art gallery.
As a display though what’s pretty speculator is using the built-in web browser to display images – we were able to see a Google Maps image of London that was something like 8000 pictures across, and throughout the image was sharp and clear. There’s also different modes – so that if you’re using the screen as a monitor (say, if you’re a pro photographer or a graphic designer), you can tweak it to sharpen the straight lines.
As you might imagine – upscaled 1080p content also looks great. Like, for example, if you’re playing a standard Blu-Ray.
What else can the telly do?
A surprisingly large amount – Panasonic have really gone to town on adding clever additional features. Like every gadget these days, there’s a comprehensive selection of apps available – with more available for download. So you’ve got your basics like the BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Netflix – as well as much more.
My favourite feature is built in Skype. There’s a camera on top that will pop-out of the TV when required (you can even summon it via voice command!). Not only can you use it to make calls through the TV – and this is my favourite bit – sign in, have Skype sit in the background so whilst you’re watching TV, if someone calls you, get notifications and take calls right there through the TV. Finally realising the dream of video-phones, like sci-fi has always dreamed of.
There’s other apps too – including a Panasonic-branded 4K channel designed to showcase 4K content. After all – there isn’t much else out there. Most of the content you’d ever want seems to be in there somewhere. The only thing really missing is Spotify. If you’re going to stream 4K though, be warned – you’re going to need a good internet connection. Panasonic recommend a 30Mb connection – so if you live in the Scottish highlands, you may be out of luck.
As mentioned before – there’s also voice control. This can either be triggered with the (presumably bluetooth) remote or using the Panasonic app. This gives another navigation option when jumping around – rather than using the remote.
Speaking of which – there’s also a Panasonic remote app that can control the TV. Once downloaded to Android or iPhone, it can not only do basic functions like change channel, but also aid text input (so you don’t have to use a fiddly and tedious remote). This is also the app to use if you want to tune into the stream from the TV on your phone. Great for continuing viewing in a different room.
Panasonic have clearly taken inspiration for many of the features from a number of different sources. We’ve already seen the Apple app store and Siri’s influence – but there’s also the home screen options, which are reminiscent of Xbox with Kinect. Different users of the TV can build their own home screen – with shortcuts to apps or channels they use the most. Cleverly, the TV will figure out who is watching by using facial recognition via the camera.
More functionally, there’s also support for 3D content on the Active 3D standard – which given that 3D enthusiasm seems to have peaked, this TV could well out-live the standard, but it’s nice to have it just in case.
So, umm, this sounds great but how much does it cost?
Ah. If you’re a Russian commodities oligarch, or a Middle Eastern sheik, or basically someone rich enough to have someone killed without consequence, then keep reading. If you’re anyone else – you might have to wait a few years before 4K TVs (not to mention GIGANTIC TVs) come down to something normal people might be able to afford.
It’s apparently set to retail at £5500 – but frankly, if you have to ask the price then you probably can’t afford it.
By James O'Malley | October 25th, 2013