Panasonic jumps straight to ‘2nd generation’ Ultra HD TV

New connectors mean high frame-rate Ultra HD support for 65-incher

Panasonic has decided to “skip the first generation” of Ultra HD TVs — the débutantes from LG and Sony, released in late 2012 — and move straight to what it calls the ‘second generation’, relying on new connection standards to differentiate its 65-inch Ultra HD TV from competitors.

The Panasonic TH-L65WT600A, announced yesterday at IFA 2013, is unique in that it is the first TV to be announced with HDMI 2.0 support — meaning 4K Ultra HD content playback (from a compatible media player) at up to 60 frames per second, double the current maximum of HDMI 1.4A’s 30 frames per second. The new Panasonic TV also includes a DisplayPort 1.2A connector, so the TV can be directly connected to any of a wide range of PCs or laptops or future devices able to output 4K Ultra HD video at up to 60 frames per second.

This frame rate jump is a huge advantage for Panasonic — its Ultra HD TV will be able to display super-high-resolution video more clearly and with better motion than competitors. Content at native Ultra HD TV resolutions is extremely limited though, and cinematic video is usually shot and mastered at 24 frames per second (the ‘film look’).

The company is also pushing hard to promote its new TV's ability to play back 4K Ultra HD video over USB. Using a USB 3.0 port, the TH-L65WT600A can play Ultra HD video files compressed in the popular H.264 standard — used in a wide range of Web video including YouTube and many downloaded TV and movie purchases &8212; and says that it is currently the only TV on the market with this ability.

Panasonic’s 65-inch Ultra HD TV is the only model that the company is announcing — there is no 55-inch option, as competitors Sony, Samsung and LG have recently released. Panasonic’s group marketing manager for VIERA TVs, Matt Pearce, told GoodGearGuide that while it intended for the 65-inch to be a hero model and to represent a clear premium choice for consumers, to “watch this space” for further screen sizes in the future.

No price was announced by Panasonic for the TH-L65WT600A, but it will be released into major electronics retail stores in the third week of October. LG’s 65-inch Ultra HD TV is $7,499, while Sony sells a 65-inch panel for $6,999 with a slightly cheaper model also announced at IFA 2013.

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