Thursday 7 November 2013

Resolution revolution transforms television!

Longtime readers already know I'm obsessed with sci-fi and technology! So, when Panasonic invited tech writers, including myself, to an exclusive event in Covent Garden. Resistance was futile.

The Japanese electronics giant unveiled its flagship 4K Ultra HD TV.

Smart VIERA TX-L65WT600, the world’s first Ultra HD TV with a 4K 50/60p input designed based on HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2a specifications. Offering up to 60 frames per second 4K playback, the WT600 is the ultimate choice for consumers looking to access the next level in home entertainment, as well as professionals – such as those working in small TV studios – for whom picture quality is imperative.

At an eye-watering £5500. The WT600 is a future-proof investment for the home cinema enthusiast who won't accept comprise. A well-appointed television that embraces 3D for those with a penchant for Hollywood's current obsession with frothy optics.

James Cameron's Avatar remains the most successful use of 3D technology to date, and the director worked closely with Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory (PHL) to affect such startlingly imagery.

As is de rigeur, the television includes a comprehensive collection of catchup channels and social networking apps accessed with built-in Wi-Fi. Panasonic has a dedicated 4K channel (requiring a minimum broadband speed of 30Mbps) and Netflix is trialling Ultra HD streaming in the US. NOW TV is a notable omission due to a timed exclusive with Smart TV partner LG.

Users can create individual login profiles much like on a Mac, PC or PS3. Customising and curating their own Home Screen, and can be recognised using face and/or voice recognition via automatic pop-up camera. Thanks to a built-in dual HD tuner, owners will be able to watch two sources at once and can wirelessly stream to a companion device such as an iPad in another room.

Wisely, Panasonic hasn't lavished this model with form factor spoiling speakers. Most (if not all) home cinema systems will already include separate speakers (mine are KEF) and HDMI AV systems. It's all about the screen. And what a screen...

To suggest it's comparable to IMAX would not be marketing hyperbole. There are no image artifacts and it boasts the deepest black levels I've ever seen on a consumer product. This is a THX-certified 4K display, which can be calibrated using the included remote or companion app for Android and iOS devices.

If the thought of calibrating a television makes you squeamish: there are THX presets. However, I'd encourage experimentation; you can always switch back to default settings at anytime. For the record I calibrate televisions using Which? magazine's laboratory test results and DVE to set below black.

Blu-ray discs are upscaled to 4K and look fantastic (as evidenced by the photo of Megan Fox in Transformers). It's worth noting 'Remastered in 4K' Blu-ray discs are not native and the benefits of the higher resolution won't be fully realised until an industry-wide codec is agreed upon.

As a self-confessed geek. It would be remiss of me not to mention voice control!

Panasonic has included a voice recogniser, which looks like a Star Trek Communicator from the original series. You'll be able to issue voice commands in your best Captain Kirk impression. But, I was also reminded of Apple's Siri technology and what an Apple television might be like as envisaged by the late Steve Jobs...

Special thanks to @PanasonicUK and @Spreaditfast for making me feel so welcome. There was pizza for the win.

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