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3DTV REVIEWS

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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 20, 2013 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Very wide viewing angle
Accurate out-of-box color
Great GUI and Smart features
Minus
Some picture-uniformity issues
Pricey compared with high-end LCD competition

THE VERDICT
Panasonic’s LCD boasts an impressive array of Smart features and decent picture quality, but some uniformity issues on dark movie scenes prevent it from stacking up to the high-end LCD competition.

Panasonic is a company that has stuck with plasma TV tech through thick and thin. In the thick column, you’ll find loads of great reviews and general raves from videophiles. In the thin column, there are claims (largely unfounded) of burn-in damage generated by everything from video games to stock tickers; more crucial, there’s bruising sales competition from LCD. What’s less known about Panasonic is that the company actually does sell LCD HDTVs—quite a few of ’em, in fact. If you were to check Panasonic’s Website right now (do it!), you’d see that its TV lineup is divided equally between plasma and LCD. And with rumors circulating about the company’s imminent departure from the plasma manufacturing biz (say it ain’t so!), that balance could soon swing fully over to the LCD side.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 01, 2011 4 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,900 At A Glance: Good blacks and shadow detail • Odd gammas in Custom mode • THX certified • Uniformity and calibration issues

The GT30 line is the baby bear in Panasonic's range of 3D plasma HDTVs—not to expensive, not too bargain-basement, but, for many buyers, just right. And at 50 inches, one of today's most popular sizes, the P50GT30 lands right in the sweet spot. But does it offer more than Panasonic's entry-level ST30, perhaps even challenging the pricier VT30 lineup? We're here to find out.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 01, 2011 10 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,500 At A Glance: Crisp, detailed images • Odd gammas in Custom mode • Little to complain about • Exceptional value

Panasonic means plasma. Yes, the company now offers a line of LCD displays, but only in smaller sizes. If you want a 50-inch or larger Panasonic, it will be a plasma. And that's not a bad thing. The TC-P50ST30 is Panasonic's latest, budget-priced, 50-inch 3D model. Only a few short years ago, you couldn't touch this level of quality in a 2D-only flat panel for five times the price—or more.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 14, 2012 6 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,700 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Vivid yet natural color • Solid black level and shadow detail • Outstanding value

HDTV manufacturers’ fortunes have been in a perpetual state of flux for years. With prices continually dropping, profit margins are slim. While the TV makers haven’t quite yet adopted a business plan that calls for losing money on each sale, there isn’t much further they can go without them paying you to take the set home. Just kidding, of course. But apart from the dicey economy (or perhaps because of it?), this is a golden age for the consumer to buy a great HDTV for not a lot of cash.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 01, 2011 4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,800 At A Glance: Accurate color points • Odd gammas in Custom mode • THX certified • Best black level and shadow detail

Deciding among Panasonic's range of 3D plasma sets can be more than a little intimidating. But it's a Sunday stroll through the park compared to choosing from the bewildering flood of 3D LCD flat panels that glut the market. And for buyers who want a bigger plasma, Panasonic's top-of-the-line VT30 range—including its smallest member, the 55-inch P55VT30 reviewed here—pushes the envelope in both performance and features.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 03, 2012 10 comments

3D Performance
2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,700 At A Glance: Bright, punchy picture • Blacks and shadow detail approaching reference quality • Near-complete adjustability

Panasonic has improved its plasma sets each year, and while that march forward has generated torturous verbiage to describe its continually improving plasma HDTV black levels (Infinite Black, Infinite Black Pro, Infinite Black Ultra, and, perhaps next year, Infinite Black Pro Ultra), the company has kept pushing the design envelope. And it has done so even as flat panel prices continue to drop. A 65-inch plasma for $3,700 would have been considered an impossible dream just a few years ago when the goal was to get prices down to $100 per diagonal inch.

Tom Norton Posted: Sep 04, 2013 3 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price $3,000

At A Glance
Plus: First-rate blacks and shadow detail • Impeccable color and resolution
Minus: Color decoder error calls for care in calibration • Adequate but not terribly bright 3D

The Verdict
With performance nearly identical to the flagship ZT60 series, Panasonic’s VT60 offers state-of-the-art image quality at a more affordable price.

If the Panasonic ZT60 series is the company’s statement product for 2013, the VT60 is an update of its long-running VT flagship line. What’s in that silly little one-letter difference? Less than you might expect, and more. For starters, the ZT60 line is available only in 60- and 65-inch sizes. The VT60 adds a 55-incher to the mix. In addition, the ZT60 is said to be something of a limited edition, the result of a complex, time-consuming manufacturing process associated with that set’s Studio Master panel.

Tom Norton Posted: Sep 04, 2013 12 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,800

At A Glance
Plus: Rich, accurate color and superb resolution • Full adjustability • Unsurpassed blacks and shadow detail
Minus: Adequate but not very bright 3D

The Verdict
Four years after the Pioneer Kuro plasma exited the market, Panasonic has finally, in its ZT60 series, created an HDTV that is essentially its equal in all key areas of image quality.

In 2009, Pioneer ceased production of its highly regarded Kuro plasma HDTVs, and videophiles everywhere took to wearing hair shirts and pondering self-flagellation.

We knew back then that Panasonic produced excellent plasmas as well, but the Kuro’s inky blacks remained unsurpassed. So when a number of former Pioneer engineers went to work for Panasonic, there was new hope. Big changes don’t happen over a single product cycle, however, or even over two or three. But now, with the release of Panasonic’s new ZT60 series, Panasonic claims to have reached that elusive summit. But has it? Can Kuro buyers stop sweating about their sets breaking down, and can those who missed the Kuro express altogether finally stop kicking themselves? We’re here to find out.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 16, 2011 2 comments
Price: $2,100 (3D glasses: $150/pair) At A Glance: THX certified for 2D • Accurate color and superb resolution • Near reference-level blacks and shadow detail

Deep Impact

Plasmas have gotten a bum rap in the market for all sorts of nutty reasons. They break when shaken? No, not unless you’re talking about dropping them off the delivery truck, or them falling off the wall in an 8.0 trembler. In either case, you can kiss any flat-panel set goodbye. They leak plasma gas and need to be recharged frequently? A big-box retailer reportedly started this rumor several years ago, apparently in an effort to sell a special power conditioner that was said to eliminate the need for regular plasma transfusions.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 19, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $2,600 At A Glance: Precise color gamut in THX mode • Near reference black level • Sparkling 3D—and 2D—performance

Walking the 3D Talk

You might think that reviewing—and reading about—one flat panel after another would get boring, if not downright numbing. And it would, if the technology were static. Fee-fie-ho-hum, a new flat panel joins the scrum.

Rob Sabin Posted: May 24, 2013 12 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,699 At A Glance: Top-tier black levels and color accuracy • So-so 3D • World-class value

Last year, the number-one TV I recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who would listen was Panasonic’s ST50 series plasma. Although a serious enthusiast might have appreciated the superior black levels and more extensive picture controls of the company’s then top-line VT models, 2012’s ST50, like the ST30 models of the year before, delivered most of the VT’s performance and easily beat out all but the most expensive LED LCDs. It was simply an incredible value and was recognized as such in Home Theater’s Top Picks of the Year.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

For a time, there was Kuro, and Kuro was king. Kuro made other TVs envious of its awesomeness. Then. . . there was no Kuro. TV reviewers wept; everyone else bought LCDs. Under-intelligenced “pundits” foretold the end of plasma TVs — but Panasonic, Samsung, and LG quietly coughed and politely said, “Umm, we still make plasmas.”

Al Griffin Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

While Panasonic plasmas traditionally excel on the picture-quality front, they’ve lagged a bit behind other flat-panel TVs when it comes to style. Take last year’s VT25 series. The picture on those sets was hard to fault (the 50-incher we reviewed won our 2010 Video Product of the Year award), but when positioned alongside new, ultra-slim plasmas from companies like Samsung, the Panasonic’s 3-inch panel depth and thick gloss-black bezel rendered it caveman-like by comparison.

Al Griffin Posted: Aug 29, 2011 0 comments

While 3D movies haven’t totally taken over the multiplex, the format remains a force to be reckoned with. Michael Bay just released a new Transformers installment in 3D (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), James Cameron is at work on Avatar sequels, and the entire Star Wars saga is being formatted for 3D release.

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 01, 2013 5 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $9,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional contrast
Bright, crosstalk-free 3D
Uniform picture at off-axis seats
Upgradeable One Connect box
Minus
Geometric distortion due to curved panel
Slight tinting from anti-reflective screen coating

THE VERDICT
While the curved screen prevents it from being our dream OLED, the exceptional performance of Samsung’s set points the way toward TV’s future.

Nothing elevates the pulse of an A/V enthusiast more readily than the prospect of new video display tech. I may be showing my age here, but I remember when the first plasma TVs made the rounds for review. Looked at next to today’s models, those sets were bulky (4 or more inches deep) and had poor contrast compared with the tube TVs they replaced. Many were plagued by banding artifacts that made pictures look like a paint-by-number kit.

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