LED TVs are becoming more popular as plasma displays slowly fade into obscurity. Displays with edge-lit LED panels are known for their better energy efficiency while maintaining excellent image quality. The technology also allows manufacturers to build very thin TV designs and go beyond the usual 55-inch screen sizes. But Panasonic is playing the game differently by manufacturing LED models without giving up the production of plasma models. Even in 2013, Panasonic offers a full lineup of 2013 LED and plasma models. Panasonic’s plasma displays were big hits in the past so it is natural for the Japanese giant to continue production. Customers still prefer plasma if they want those massive 65-inch TVs taking the center stage in their living room. But in Panasonic’s LED lineup, their models max out at 55 inches, save for one particular model – the Panasonic TC-L65E60. This is a 65-inch TV with tradeoffs and this review will expose them.
The TC-L65E60 is huge and that could be enough to make a huge impression. Any huge TV would look great in the living room and you can expect a very lively display once it is turned on. But since LED technology offers more flexibility, Panasonic was able to build a 65-inch display that looks more aesthetically pleasing than most Panasonic’s plasma displays. The cabinet itself is very thin measuring less than 1.5 inches and the black bezel is quite thin as well. It lacks the elegance that Panasonic’s high-end LED displays have but the Panasonic TC-L65E60 still offers a unique style. The thin strip of plastic below the bottom bezel gives this TV a pretty distinct look. Functionality-wise, this strip actually contains remote and ambient light sensors. For such a huge TV, it is a bit disappointing to see this large display only featuring 3 HDMI ports. It also has a pair of USB ports and standard set of composite and component AV jacks.
The display is the area where the tradeoffs are noticeable. Unlike any of the smaller Panasonic displays in the WT60, DT60 and ET60 series, the TC-L65E60 isn’t equipped with an IPS panel. This has resulted to slightly poorer viewing angles (although still very good) and some instances where the blues and greens look a bit oversaturated. Fortunately, the contrast ratio remains high so you can still enjoy those dark blacks and a bright overall picture. It also uses Panasonic’s older Back Light Blinking (BLB) technology in addressing motion blur so you might notice some backlight blooming. The good news is that the motion handling is still quite acceptable thanks to the panel’s 120 Hz refresh rate.
Those that are critical on things like color accuracy still have the option of fine tuning the picture. There is a basic picture settings menu that allows you to adjust common setting like the backlight, contrast, color temperature and brightness. Beginners can try out one of the 5 available presets that suit different types of content like movies for instance. There is this other cool setting called A.I. Picture which manages to enhance the dark areas without adjusting the brightness and black levels. Explore the menu even further and you’ll encounter the Pro settings menu which offers even more customization from the black level gradation to the luminance levels and RGB hue.
The Panasonic TC-L65E60 still offers a pretty decent VIERA Connect experience with many of the features intact. It starts out strong with built-in Wi-Fi so you can immediately connect the TV to a wireless router without a cable or separate dongle. Your USB ports will remain free if you prefer to use a flash drive to play back any movies, music and other media. Connecting to the network is necessary if you want to take full advantage of VIERA Connect and the My Home Screen which pretty much serves as the hub for VIERA Connect. Unlike some other smart TV interfaces, the My Home Screen is more customizable where you can place your own widgets and icons on the home screen. It feels like managing an Android smartphone or traditional PC where you can put memos, calendar items and other app shortcuts so they can be easily accessible. Some notable apps include the Web browser for checking out websites, YouTube, Skype, AccuWeather and a multitude of apps for social networking and online streaming. It is also possible to change the background to any wallpaper you like including any pictures that are stored on your mobile device.
Mobile connectivity is one of the cool features of the TC-L65E60 that make navigating the VIERA Connect interface a bit friendlier. With the freely available VIERA Remote 2 companion app for iOS and Android, you can use your own smartphone or tablet to adjust different settings quickly or launch any installed apps on the TV. The Panasonic TC-L65E60 does not include a separate touch pad remote so this mobile app is the next best thing to use if you really enjoy using VIERA Connect. The app comes with 4 modes – Pad Control, Remote Control, Keyboard and GamePad so you can use your device’s touchscreen to interact with the TV in various ways. It also has a feature called Swipe & Share which makes it easy to send any picture to the big screen by means of simple gesture swiping.
65-inch TVs can consume a lot of electricity although it mainly applies to those plasma displays. With the Panasonic TC-L65E60, you won’t have to worry so much about power consumption as the usage can fall below 100 watts if you switch to a certain mode like Cinema. Use the Eco mode and the power usage can go even lower going below 90 watts.
At the time of writing, it is not known if Panasonic will go ahead and release other 65-inch variants of their higher-end models. While that might be disappointing for some, at least the TC-L65E60 is reasonably priced at $2,699. You can just imagine how much higher-end Panasonic 65-inch displays would cost especially considering the fact that an IPS panel drives up the price. Despite the minor tradeoffs, the Panasonic TC-L65E60 is still a pretty good large screen display with decent image quality. But if you are fine with a smaller display, you can enjoy more features for the same price by going with a higher-end model.
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