TV manufacturers continue to pursue a 4K agenda, even though standards (unlike Ultra High Definition images), are far from clear. Panasonic though has stolen a considerable lead over competitors, with the launch of its first 4K set, the 65-inch TX-L65WT600. This is currently the only UHD screen able to support high frame rate content, thanks to the provision of both HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort v2.1a. See all Digital Home reviews.)
Cosmetically, the TX-L65WT600 looks much like Panasonic's current Full HD range topper, the TX-L55WT65. It's slim with a narrow chrome bezel and distinctive translucent lip. This plastic pout can be illuminated if you want. (See also: Panasonic announces Smart VIERA TX-65WT600 65in 4K TV: specs, details, pictures.)
Panasonic 4K TV review: two Freeview HD tuners
As with the rest of Panasonic's business-class fleet, there are two Freeview HD tuners and paired Freesat HD tuners onboard. The inclusion of multiple tuners opens up novel viewing options. A MultiWindow preview mode allows the main screen to be scaled alongside a vertical TV listing. This fast-zapping program guide, with live window, can reflect either the DVB tuner, satellite feed or HDMI input. You can swap the channel positions as required.
The WT600 comes with a pair of remotes, a standard IR controller and dumpy Bluetooth touch pad with integrated microphone, which can be used for some rudimentary, but easily ignored, voice control.
The TV features four HDMIs, only one of which is 4K HDMI 2.0 enabled, plus Scart and component/composite inputs, three USBs (one for external hard drive recording), Ethernet, an SD card reader and an optical digital output. Wi-Fi is integrated. The surprise is the provision of the aforementioned DisplayPort connection. More commonly found on Apple kit and PC graphics cards, DisplayPort, like HDMI 2.0, supports 4K UHD.
The screen shares the same Smart feature set as its stablemates, albeit with some differences. Apps include Panasonic's own 4K streaming service, allowing 50/60Hz 3840x2160 clips to be viewed, for which a connection of around 50 Mb/s is suggested. There's also a native 4K web browser, which can be used to view the 4K channel on YouTube, as well as high definition maps. See also Group test: what's the best TV? The 5 best HDTVs of 2013.
Panasonic 4K TV review: 8 million pixels
Of course, the set's main claim to fame is its 8million pixel panel. To this with native 4K, we connected a media server loaded with UHD content from Eurosport, via DisplayPort. Unlike other 4K demo material we've seen, this footage was shot at 60Hz.
While UHD clarity always impresses, high frame rate 4K footage of European rally car driving and equestrian events proves truly stunning. There's not only a natural motion to the material, but even greater image depth. The set also makes for a totally outrageous gaming monitor, when hooked up to a PC sporting a 4K graphics card. Project Cars at 60Hz via DisplayPort on a 65-inch panel is probably the next best thing to sitting in the passenger seat. An increasing number of cards support 4K, including nVidia's Quadro and GeForce series, as well as AMD's Radeon HD 7000 and FirePro models.
The WT600 also does a fine job upscaling Full HD sources, be they from its own tuner or Blu-ray. The set's 4K Hexa-processing engine references a database of textures and applies them dynamically; alternatively you can simply scale 1080p inputs to the pixel dense display.
Panasonic 4K TV review: vibrant colour
The screen's black level performance is satisfying, and not particularly prone to greyness (an LCD trait), even in full black out conditions. Colour vibrancy is also high. While edge-lighting uniformity is good, the set does struggle to maintain colour and contrast when viewed off angle though.
The WT600 uses Active Shutter 3D tech and does a reasonably good job. While there remains some crosstalk, stereoscopic images are bright and immersive. Two pairs of glasses are included in the box. Shuttering specs suffer from flicker in mixed light sources and for that reason we'd prefer a Passive implementation on a 4K screen, but at least these 3D glasses are light enough to wear for the full duration of a blockbuster.
Audio is this set's weakest feature. A low level of amplification and downward/rearward firing drivers make for a muddy noise. See also: Panasonic 4K tablet: specs, release date.