Panasonic 4K Is The First With DisplayPort

Panasonic has officially entered the 4K Ultra HDTV fray with a single model, the 65-inch TC-L65WT600, an edge-lit LCD priced at $5999 and available later this month at Magnolia stores and the Web site.

Notably, the set is the first to offer a DisplayPort connection, making it the only available Ultra HDTV today able to handle 4K content at 60 frames per second from computers or other sources. The set’s HDMI inputs are also HDMI 2.0 compliant. Other Ultra HDTVs are currently limited to 4K/30p.

Another effort to future-proof the TV and maximize content is inclusion of an H.264 MPEG-4 decoder that plays online 4K video, and allows 4K web browsing.

In a briefing at Panasonic’s New Jersey headquarters today, Panasonic execs discussed and demonstrated technical details of the TC-L65WT600, in some cases providing side-by-side comparisons with directly competitive 65-inch 4K models from Sony and Samsung for criteria such as black level rendition, motion resolution, and scaling of 1080p content. All of these areas were tested by THX in its certication of the TV, the executives pointed out.

While black level differences were difficult to detect by eye under the demo conditions, the additional motion resolution provided by 4K/60p content was clearly noticeable over the same video content of an automobile ride played simultaneously at 4K/30p on the competitor HDTVs. All the sets were interpolating to a 120 Hz frame rate for display.

Panasonic was duly proud of its scaling engine that bumps up 1080p content to fill out the 3840 x 2160 pixel screen. A menu from the Blu-ray for the movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close clearly showed jaggies on the rounded edges of the title letters on the Panasonic’s competitors where the TC-L65WT600 had none. Differences were harder to detect on a clip from Skyfall, but some details in the edges and stony surface of the castle-like home from which film takes its name seemed slightly more apparent on the Panasonic. Panasonic even provided a white paper discussing the workings of its proprietary scaler technology, dubbed the 4K Fine Remaster Engine.

The TC-L65WT600 is 3D-capable and uses passive glasses, though there was no 3D demonstration. The 3D images Sound & Vision and its predecessor Home Theater have experienced on other 4K HDTVs to date have been the best we’ve seen—exceptionally bright and largely free of ghosting.

Magnolia will have an exclusive on the new set at retail for the month of October, Panasonic execs said, joining with Panasonic’s own Web site in being the only available outlets. Afterward, the TC-L65WT600 will go into wide distribution for the holiday season.