Panasonic BT300 Reference Plasma Monitor

In a secret, blacked-out room, Panasonic was demonstrating its new professional reference monitor, the TH-42BT300, shown here between last year's TH-42PF11 to the left and this year's TH-42PF20 on the right. In addition to a 42-incher (~$4000), the new model will be available in a 50-inch size for around $5000.

The BT300 is the first Panasonic pro monitor to include a full color-management system. All three in the demo were calibrated for grayscale, and the BT300 was also tweaked to conform to the Rec.709 color gamut, and it showed in the more natural skin tones that seemed almost washed out next to the overblown skin tones on the other two screens.

Of course, the big question on my mind was whether or not the new monitor incorporated more Kuro technology than previous generations. The blacks were clearly no better than on the other two, so I had my doubts. When I asked about this, I was told that black level isn't the only important criterion, and Panasonic is emphasizing shadow detail over absolute black level. It's true that the shadow detail was better on the BT300, but I want deep black as well.