The last major TV maker to jump into the 4K pool, Panasonic has made a 65-inch splash with the TC-L65WT600, its first with 4k Ultra-High-Def resolution.
The 65WT600 is the first TV compliant with the new HDMI 2.0 standard, which gives it access to 4K Ultra HD at rates up to 60 frames per second (fps). The current standard is limited to 30 fps.
Panasonic USA is taking preorders now for $5,999, citing an October ship date. Given the recent precipitous drops in other makers' 4K TV pricing, however, a preorder of this Panasonic might be even riskier than usual.
Meanwhile the set is also due out in Europe around the same time and price, under the TX-L65WT600 name. It was shown off at the IFA show in Berlin, where we had the chance to see it in action.
Whether or not you're familiar with 4K, or Ultra HD as it's also known, you'll be impressed by the demos. Despite its huge 65-inch screen, it's so high-res you have to get within a a foot or so -- far closer than is comfortable -- before you can see any of its 3,840x2,160 pixels.
As for 60fps, we saw two side by side, showing a Japanese football match in both 30fps and double the frame rate. We couldn't discern enough of a difference to say it's worth paying through the nose, although it's fair to say there was less blurring when players moved quickly on the 30fps set. Of course this is a manufacturer-staged demo, so it's tough to say how accurate it was.
While the fast frame rate allows better display of fast-moving video like sports, it has no effect on films and movies, which are typically captured at 24 fps--The Hobbit notwithstanding.
The company also showed off its 120Hz engine and compared against a Sony and Samsung 4K set the WT600 exhibited less "haloing" artefacting than the other too
Meanwhile current 4K sets from LG, Samsung and Sony use the HDMI 1.4 standard, meaning their 4K inputs cap at 30 fps. The latter two companies, however, say their current 4K TVs can be upgraded to handle HDMI 2.0 too, Sony's via a simple firmware upgrade and Samsung's via some variation of the Evolution Kit.
One use Panasonic envisions is as a professional display. Video producers can play back their fresh Ultra HD footage at 60fps via the 65WT600's new DisplayPort 1.2a connector.
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Another newly announced standard, DisplayPort 1.2a is smashing news for gamers. It's supported by Nvidia, so a compatible PC will be able to pump out 60 frames of Ultra HD gaming action every second. Watching someone far more coordinated than us play a driving game, it looked extremely smooth and detailed.
Other 4K-specific features include the requisite fancy-named upscaling circuit (because you'll most likely be watching good old 1080p on this and other 4K sets for the time being), a 4K-compatible USB and SD card slot with a 4K native decoder, and 4K-friendly versions of 120Hz processing, a Web browser, and streaming video playback.
As far as picture specs are concerned this is an edge-lit television with 32 zones of local dimming which means it should be capable of decent black levels in a dark room.
Of course the 65WT600 has Panasonic's latest smart TV system, too -- one new feature is in-picture widgets that can show you the weather, headlines, and other info (we definitely needed another way to keep an eye on our stocks).
You can also link your mobile device and display videos, photos, and Web pages from it in Ultra HD on the big screen. When the image changed on the tablet we saw it demoed on, it took a second or two to appear on the TV, so it's not instant.
We'll have a full review for you as soon as we can. For tonnes more product hands-ons, photos, and videos, head to our IFA home page.
CNET US's Ty Pendlebury also contributed to this report.