Panasonic TH-85VX200 review

The Panasonic TH-85VX200 is a massive plasma screen with the promise of top class three-dimensional images in a brightly lit room Tested at £42000

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A mighty and talented screen. The price is high and features are limited, though


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    impressive 3D

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    rich yet convincing colours

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    good detail

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    fine blacks


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    High price

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    not the last word in white brilliance

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    limited features

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    poor scaler

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This is one case where the figures tell the story: 85 inches, 117 kg and £42,000. That said, even knowing the numbers doesn’t diminish the sense of awe we feel when seeing a display this massive in full flow.

The Panasonic TH-85VX200 is a monitor, so there’s no on-board tuner or speakers. There’s also a lack of features such as internet access or content streaming across a network. These are becoming standard in most top-end screens, so it’s quite a surprise not to see them here.

Once up and running this Panasonic is a fine performer. It does a mostly good job with standard-def material.

Feed it a DVD of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull from a Panasonic DMP-BDT100 player, and this massive screen will reveal all the format’s foibles, but show enough of the good to keep things enjoyable.

The scaler isn’t all that talented, though, giving away a fair bit of fluidity to the one in the disc player. Still, we think anyone buying this screen is likely to have pretty capable sources. Of course, a monitor like this is all about HD material.

While results from our Sky HD box showed an uplift in performance from standard def, it’s with Blu-ray that this screen really pleases.

Excellent motion handling
With content as varied as George Clooney’s Up in the Air (chosen for its natural colours) and Inception (useful for testing most other things) the VX200 delivers a bold and detailed picture. Colours are rich without being garish, while complex detail remains stable, even during movement.

For a huge screen this Panasonic handles most movement impressively well. The company claims a contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1, which sounds high, but in use the screen never quite manages to deliver whites with the kind of brilliance we’d hope for.

It’s good – very good, in fact – but not exceptional. At the dark end of the scale, though, the VX200 excels, producing solid, dark blacks without hindering resolution.

This screen’s fine performance with motion suggests it might do well with 3D – and so it proves.

Using Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, this Panasonic produces a natural feel to depth (at least as much as is possible with animations). There’s a lovely stability to the picture, and it’s certainly less tiring to watch than most other 3D screens we’ve seen.

Impressive 3D performance
All the Panasonic’s strengths shine through with material such as this. Its rich colour palette comes to the fore, and those pleasing detail levels combine with strong black rendition to really enhance the action.

In the short time that 3D screens have been around, there’s been a notable improvement in performance – long may it continue. If you’re into home cinema, a projector will serve you better, and cost far less.

But if you’re in that specific situation of needing a massive screen in a brightly lit room, this Panasonic pretty much has the market all to itself.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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