A British TV-review site conducted a flat-panel faceoff, and—surprise, surprise—a plasma won. But the Panasonic AX802B won Best UHDTV by a landslide.
Mark Henninger's report from his press preview of the Panasonic AX800U
LED-edgelit LCD UHDTV has inspired tons of comments—over 1100 last time I looked. Of course, the title he chose for that report—"Panasonic Beats Plasma Picture Quality with the TC-AX800U Series"—is highly controversial; some might even say, "Them's fightin' words!"
The results of a recent flat-panel faceoff conducted by British TV-review site HDTVtest.co.uk
in collaboration with retailer Crampton & Moore and Leeds Trinity University demonstrate that LED-LCD might not actually beat plasma picture quality quite yet. However, the AX802B (the European version of the AX800U) trounced the other LED-edgelit UHDTVs from Samsung and Sony by a landslide, indicating that Panasonic could be regaining its position near the top of the TV heap.
The six sets were placed side by side in a gentle curve—from left to right in the photo above:
- Samsung UE65HU8500 (curved LED-LCD UHDTV, comparable to UN65HU9000 in the US)
- Panasonic TX-65AX802B (flat LED-LCD UHDTV, comparable to TC-65AX800U in the US)
- Sony KD-65X9005B (flat LED-LCD UHDTV, comparable to XBR-65X900B in the US)
- Samsung UE65HU7500 (flat LED-LCD UHDTV, comparable to UN65HU8550 in the US)
- LG 55EA980V (curved OLED HDTV, comparable to 55EA9800 in the US)
- Panasonic TX-P60ZT65B (flat plasma HDTV, comparable toTC-P60ZT60 in the US)
All six TVs were calibrated to D65 grayscale, 2.4 gamma, Rec.709 color gamut, and 45 foot-lambert peak-white level. (The site's normal peak-white level for TV reviews is 35 fL, but it was set higher for this test because of the light coming from all the TVs next to each other.) The Panasonic plasma achieved the high peak-white level with its Panel Luminance control set to High. The edgelit LED-LCD TVs had their pseudo-local dimming enabled at a level that resulted in the least backlight fluctuation, gamma skewing, and shadow-detail crushing.
The source devices included an Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player, MacBook Pro with 4K output, and a Panasonic DMR-BWT735 HD DVR set to output an interlaced signal to simulate broadcast signals. All sources were connected to the TVs using QED cables and Lindy HDMI splitters.
In the original article, you can read about how the TVs performed in various specific categories, including 4K, HD and SD, contrast, color, backlight/screen uniformity, and motion. In the end, the Panasonic TX-65AX802B won Best 4K Ultra HD TV in a landslide, while the TX-P60ZT65B plasma won Best TV by a much closer margin over the LG 55EA980V OLED. Interestingly, none of the UHDTVs garnered a single vote for Best TV.
Out of more than 30 attendees, only 17 stayed until the end to participate in the voting, so these are hardly statistically significant results. Also, there were no FALD (full-array local-dimming) LED-LCD TVs in the faceoff, so the results cannot be considered definitive. Still, they support the notion that Panasonic is making great strides in LED-LCD picture quality and that the ZT65/ZT60 plasma remains hard to beat.
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