Home Reviews Entertainmnent Panasonic Viera DX900U, 65” 4K Ultra TV (review)

The promise of a 65” smart TV tuned in collaboration with Hollywood colourists and filmmakers and Panasonic's 4K Blu-ray player was too much to resist when offered the chance to review it.

I get many TV review offers, but for the most part, I prefer to go to see the TV in situ because I live in a townhouse with steps and limited space for monster TVs. And I don’t like untangling all that spaghetti wiring carefully hidden behind the TV cabinet.

Which is a great way to start because this is a big, huge even, 65” TV — 1.457m wide, 888mm high and 334mm depth weighing 42.5kg — over 50kg in an even bigger box which the poor courier and I had to carry up the stairs. But the size and weight also meant I had to ask the nice Panasonic rep to come over and help me unpack and lift the TV into place on the sideboard and vice versa when it sadly had to go back – hernia material, so do buy a home installation package.

DX header

Two words describe this TV – huge and impressive.

Out of the Box – Panasonic Viera 65” 4K, DX900U

Having mentioned the “box” I will not go there again, except to say that you will need to keep it should you ever decide to move house again!

The box contains the 4K, 65” TV (a 58” model with similar specs is also available), a pedestal base, one standard remote, one touchpad controller, and various hardware screws and ties.

DX baseThe 8kg base is one of the contributing factors to the weight and depth of the screen. It needs to counterbalance the 34.5kg screen and does so by tilting it slightly back – the angle is not at all unpleasant.

Once in place (remember that you need a 33.4cm depth) Panasonic recommends you screw the supplied load straps to the back of the TV cabinet. It can be wall-mounted using a special optional wall mount, with one caveat – there are several fans on the back (to keep the backlight cool) and you need to leave 100mm clearance. So it is not a flush mount.

 

 

Setup

This TV has major connectivity options that can obviate the need for a separate AV amp/switcher. It has:

  • 4 x HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 ports, all 4K pass-through (One with ARC – audio channel return for connection to a sound bar or AV amp). All support Viera Link HDAVI for compatible Panasonic products.
  • Two USB 2.0 (500mA) and one USB 3.0 (900mA) – No SD card slot.
  • AV Component in (RCA) and L/R Audio.
  • Ethernet RJ-45.
  • Wi-Fi N, 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 3.0.
  • Antenna.
  • Digital Audio output (no headphone jack – use the amplifier or Bluetooth).

It was easy to connect a Foxtel STB, Panasonic 4K Blu-ray player, a Microsoft Windows 10 Media Centre (a PC with Radeon 4K video card for Web browsing and content streaming), WD MyCloud (Ethernet DLNA storage device), Xbox, and an AV, 5.1 amplifier and speakers (using the HDMI ARC).

In connecting the last-named device, I realised my Media Centre and the 4K Blu-ray needed 4K pass through, and my Pioneer did not support that, so connecting to the TV and using its HDMI switching was the only option. That worked very well!

I will not go into all the menu settings but suffice to say there are heaps, most of which you will never use. What you may want to do, as I did, is look up what these do or simply play to see if it improves an already spectacular picture. I found the Auto setting works well.

Specifications

Here are the relevant ones:

  • 3840 x 2160 resolution, 16:9, HDR Premium, VA, Backlit, LED screen.
  • 200Hz motion and quad-core processor.
  • Twin TV DVB-T tuners (for USB/HDD recording).
  • 4K upscaling from all four HDMI ports, 3D capable (with active glasses).
  • 512 local “honeycomb” dimming zones (possible only because of the backlit design).
  • HDR Premium, THX certified.
  • 40W RMS (2 x 10W mid/high range and 2 x subwoofer) Standard/Music/Ambience/User.
  • Firefox 2 OS including voice interaction, 7-day EPG, Hbb (Freeview Plus), Netflix and small range of apps.
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (keyboard and mouse), Mirroring (cast).
  • DLNA compatible media player (AVI/HEVC/MKV/WMV/MP4/M4v/FLV/3GPP/VRO/VOB/TS/PS, MP3/AAC/WMA Pro/FLAC/Apple Lossless/WAV, JPEG/MPO).
  • 12-month warranty.

These are impressive specifications. I especially liked the twin tuners (watch and record different programmes at the same time), and the backlit dimming must be seen to be believed.

Using the TV

It comes with a standard “46 button” remote that features a left/right/up/down/ok cursor control and buttons for EPG, Apps, eHelp, Input switching, Teletext (not used in Australia), and basic operations for connected devices e.g. play, pause, etc. Although not backlit, it is easy enough to follow and use.

It also comes with a smaller Bluetooth touchpad remote that supports voice commands and became my preferred remote (the wife preferred the standard remote). The touchpad was more intuitive to me, and it was accurate on all menus. Voice control was hit and miss, but I am sure that is just me!

There are also the usual buttons on the right side of the TV – on/off, volume, channel, input and menu.

While I purposely did not use the printed manual during set-up, in later reference it is very well laid out and easy to follow.

Netflix, ABC iView, SBS On Demand and Telstra BigPond are among standard apps, but standard commercial TV catch-up services are missing. These are available through HbbTV, (FreeView Plus – not tested) and IPTV services (requires Internet access and data charges apply).

Picture quality – superb

I cannot fault it – Panasonic's six-colour, Hexa Chrome Pro, 10-bit, VA panel produces amazing blacks; great, rich, intense colours (DCI-P3, 98% sRGB); stunning grayscales; good shadow definition; good brightness; good uniformity; and good motion – it is a 10 out of 10 and the UHD Premium certification is evidence of that.

There is a ton of brightness (well over 1000 cd/m2 for UHD certification – it was 1310 cd/m2), and HDR Premium certification makes the most of the metadata in the video stream – hyper-realism.

Having said that, it does depend a little on your input source. For example, Foxtel IQ2 is still stuck at a maximum of 1080i (not p) and, while clear when up-scaled, it was not as sharp as the TV, Windows Media Centre or 4K Blue-ray.

The secret sauce is a full array, 512-zone, honeycomb back-light that, on an LCD screen, is a basic pre-requisite for proper HDR display.

To accommodate its direct LED backlight, the unit is far thicker and heavier than most other edge-lit televisions. Powering 512 LED dimming zones (especially for HDR) produces substantial heat, which is why it has six silent cooling fans at the back.

I did not test 3D, but it uses Bluetooth connected, battery powered, active glasses. There is a small market for this, and there is a limited catalogue of 3D Blue-ray movies.

My only small nag was that the 46° (practical) field of view was slightly more limited than I expected, although not uncharacteristic of the VA panel. Room layout and keeping most viewers in a reasonably tight arc (instead of 90° side on) is recommended.

Power consumption is up to 364W in HDR. If you can afford the TV, you can afford the power.

Sound quality

For normal TV viewing in a normal lounge, the 2.1 sound is adequate. Bass is good, mid-range recessed, and treble is clear. You can adjust bass and treble to your liking.

But it is not the quality one would expect for a premium TV – it needs reinforcement for larger lounges and to get that cinematic effect. Fortunately, I had a Pioneer 5.1 AV Amp and Jamo speakers, and it hooked seamlessly into that.

My advice is that you will need a quality sound bar or AV Amp setup and that is going to set you back at least another $2000, if not more. But the 58” TV version costs $4999 and the 65” costs $5499 so I assume that buyers will not quibble over the extra money for sound (and a 4K Blu-ray Player) to match the picture quality.

Firefox OS and apps

Firefox OS comes from the people who make the browser – Mozilla. It is a discontinued open-source OS that runs mainly Web-based apps (not native).

It feels “limited” after having tried Samsung’s Tizen, LG’s WebOS or Android TV.

Firefox version 2.0 has "Web apps" and casting, but it is neither, in my opinion, a strength, nor the OS that should come with this premium TV.

To be kind, it works perfectly adequately.

DX Apps

Panasonic Blu-ray DMP-UB900 player

While I concentrated on TV and tended to ignore the 4K, HDR Premium, Blu-ray — after all, it is a player — it has some great features you need to consider.

Let’s gloss over image quality – fabulous 4K even when up-scaled. Let’s gloss over use – the remote and UI are fine. Let’s look at what makes it a little different.

For starters, it will play most "discs" back to an old CD audio. Compatibility is excellent. It is will reproduce Dolby Digital/Plus/True HD 7.1 audio, DTS, FLAC, WAC, ALAC, DSD and more It does not support Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision (as used on LG’s top-end TVs), but that is no big deal as it supports HDR-10 and Ultra HD Premium.

It has an SD memory card slot, USB 2.0 port, and two HDMI ports (one for Pure Audio over HDMI) and 7.1 component video/audio, etc. It does not have a headphone port.

It has an Ethernet port, Wi-Fi, Miracast, DLNA support, and 4K upscaling. It will stream Netflix and has a few other apps.

In many ways, it doubles up on the DX900 TV, but in many ways, it extends its usefulness.

Its on-screen user interface (UI) is basic and gives control over video, music, photos, home network, network services, and set-up.

At $1099 it is a perfect match for the Panasonic 65” 4K, UHD TV. It is a very smart premium device with audiophile appeal for perfectionists.

But there are competitors – Samsung’s K8500 4K Dolby Atmos player and surprisingly the Xbox One S that supports 4K UHD, 4K upscaling, DTS-X and Dolby Atmos. Both are half the price, and you get perhaps more than you pay for.

DX Player

Conclusion

The TV is one of the best I have seen, and I have seen the best from LG, Sony, and Samsung this year. I just wish I could put them all side by side and make the final cut.

The amazing backlit screen makes it worthy competition for high-end OLED and Quantum Dot TVs but you want to see it in a shop where you can see the others too. Colour preference is a personal thing, and the Panasonic signature is natural/neutral.

It is beautifully made – Panasonic quality with great Australian support. Now if they would just give it a three-year warranty (Australian Consumer Law covers that anyway).

The Panasonic DX900 and UM900 4K Blu-ray player are an exceptional combination that produce a picture quality that is possibly the best for an LCD TV in 2016.

Postscript

iTWire uses manufacturer’s recommended pricing – in this case $5499 for the 65” DX-900. I resisted commenting if that was good value, because while there are so many excellent 65”/165cm 4K TV’s around at under $4000, few match the feature set of the DX-900.

I note that in this week’s JB Hi-Fi catalogue (ends 9/11/2016) the TV is $3998 which brings it in line with pricing for similar Sony, LG, and Samsung LCD products. At that price it is a bargain.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

 

 

 

 

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