Panasonic Premiere TH-65VX100U Plasma HD Monitor Page 3
The differences are most obvious on star fields, which is probably the darkest type of image that still has significant detail. The star field at the begin- ning of Stargate: Continuum is one of the most dynamically layered star fields I’ve seen on film. Viewed alone on the Pana- sonic Premiere without a side- by-side comparison, it looked superb. It’s arguably at least as good as it is on a local- dimming LCD like a Sony XBR8.
I was unable to view this set directly next to a Pioneer KURO (or a Sony XBR8) in time for this review. Still, the Panasonic Premiere clearly doesn’t deliver quite the same sensation of the inky, infinite blackness of space behind the stars that the Pioneers can. On this display, this also trans- lates to a slightly less consistently rich, dark look on less challenging but otherwise very dark scenes with few bright highlights. While the black letterbox bars on 2.35:1 films looked respectably dark, they were more visible than on a Pioneer.
In the above com- parisons, I’m definitely splitting hairs. But such hairs must be split con- sidering that the Pana- sonic Premiere is much more expensive than the Pioneer and Sony flagship sets, which aren’t exactly selling for chicken feed, either. Still, apart from those sets, the Panasonic Premiere’s blacks are the deepest we’ve ever measured on any plasma or LCD flat panel. It never failed to produce a con- vincing image on a high- quality source. By any reasonable standard, its overall performance on dark scenes is excellent.
The Panasonic Premiere’s shadow detail is superb. It’s arguably as good as or better than those other sets. It’s largely immune to the gray fog effect—a lightening that can subtly wash out the dimmest regions of a dark scene. Plasma’s inherent ability to deliver punchy highlights in otherwise low-brightness scenes also works to this set’s advantage.
I had no complaints with this display’s per- formance in any other important respects. Motion lag was not an issue. Like other plas- mas, you can comfortably view it from far off axis without any visible image degradation. Of course you should use reasonable caution with stationary or partial-screen images on any plasma display. Still, I found the Panasonic Premiere’s resistance to image retention (the first stage of possible perm- anent burn-in) to be well above average for a plasma.
Many, if not most, of the sets that we review these days are excellent performers. But they usually have one or two major weaknesses, such as motion lag or poor off-axis viewing, video processing, or black level and shadow detail. The TH-65VX100U isn’t perfect, either, nor is it the best set we’ve reviewed in every respect. And it’s undeniably pricey. But with good program mate- rial, it offers a canny balance of strengths with no serious weaknesses. It’s the type of set that draws you in. It’s the type of set that keeps you up until 1:00 a.m. watching stuff that’s been sitting on your DVR for weeks, waiting for you to find time to see. This is the type of set that turns well-made and great- looking program material into compelling entertainment.