After much speculation by anxious videophiles, Panasonic today announced the release of two of its most anticipated, highest performing, and just plain massive 4K UHD TVs to date. The company’s flagship 65-inch AX900, the glory of which we got to drink in recently at the Luxury Technology Show, may cost as much as $7,000, while the massive 85-inch AX850 could run double that, at $14,000 according to Twice. Both TVs will be available next month at Best Buy and at Panasonic’s website. Panasonic has not released pricing for the TVs as of yet, so the numbers above are purely speculative at this time.
The AX850 will be another monster of the genre when it hits showroom floors, dazzling with its sheer size and unflinching 4K resolution thanks to a loaded arsenal of some of Panasonic’s best technologies. Those include illumination matched for your environment, top black level reproduction, and the company’s best color reproduction technology which offers a color pallete designed to deliver the exact experience film directors intended through collaboration with Panasonic’s Hollywood Laboratories division.
However, while the AX850 and its sheer size are certainly impressive, it is the AX900 that represents the ultimate delivery on Panasonic’s promise to deliver an LCD TV lineup that can provide plasma-like picture quality. Employing one of the most advanced direct LED backlighting systems in the business, the AX900’s unprecedented 5 x 5 matrix local dimming virtually eliminates the dreaded LCD halo effect, creating ultra rich black levels behind sparkling whites for an image as close to plasma as we’ve encountered outside of OLED TV technology.
That’s big news for those lamenting the recent shuttering of Panasonic’s plasma division, which offered some of the top picture performance available before it was decommissioned last year, preceding similar moves from across the industry that has left still-unproven OLED technology as its only real successor. We knew Panasonic had been working on creating LCD screens that would compete with plasma when it came to black levels, and it appears the breakthrough in local dimming for the AX900 represents its silver bullet there. The only TV we’ve seen in the LCD space that comes close is Sony’s similarly spectacular X950B.
Along with excellent picture performance, both TVs have been THX 4K Certified to assure image quality and stability, as well as offering top specs including HDMI 2.0 support for 4K input at 60fps, a quad-core Pro5 super-high speed processor for a snappier smart interface, and the latest H.265 codec for 4K streaming, including the recently procured ability to stream Netflix in 4K.
Historically, pricing can vary by thousands of dollars from inital speculation, so we’ll have to wait and see if the retail prices match up with the rumors. You can get your hands on both of Panasonic’s new 4K titans direct from Panasonic, or at Best Buy in a few short weeks.
[Updated 10/21/2014: This post was updated to reflect that the pricing for the TVs is speculative at this point. We will update again once the official price points for the TVs are released.]