Panasonic VT60 Review

Specs

ManufacturerPanasonic
ModelTC-P60VT60
Display TypePlasma
Resolution1920x1080
Inputs3x HDMI, 1x Component, 1x Composite, 1x Antenna/Cable, 3x USB, 1x SD Card
OutputsOptical, Audio Return Channel (HDMI 2)
Streaming ServicesNetflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, YouTube
Wi-Fi SupportYes
3D SupportYes
Display Size56.2" x 32.7" x 2.0"
Display Weight80.5 lbs.
Review DateDecember 21, 2013
PriceOut of stock

After years of speculation Panasonic finally confirmed that plasma production would end. Early in 2014 the last panel will come off their line and the best current displays will go away. Despite having not spent much time viewing one in person, I still took advantage of the current availability and bought myself a 60” Panasonic VT60.

After spending time watching and analyzing the Panasonic VT60 I can say, without hesitation, that anyone after the best display they can get should pick one up now. Black levels are amazing, light output is high enough for almost any situation, and the contrast ratio is jaw dropping. It is a beautiful set that will keep you happy for years to come.

So Long Plasma

Specs
Manufacturer:Panasonic
Model:TC-P60VT60
Display Type:Plasma
Resolution:1920x1080
Inputs:3x HDMI, 1x Component, 1x Composite, 1x Antenna/Cable, 3x USB, 1x SD Card
Outputs:Optical, Audio Return Channel (HDMI 2)
Streaming Services:Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, YouTube
Wi-Fi Support:Yes
3D Support:Yes
Display Size:56.2" x 32.7" x 2.0"
Display Weight:80.5 lbs.
Review Date:December 21, 2013
Price:Out of stock
Company Website

Buy From Amazon

Why Amazon Links?

The demise of plasma is something that many of us have seen coming and hoped would not happen. The comparisons between LCD and plasma are old-hat to people now and each has their own benefits. The overall triumph of LCD is probably due to cost over performance, as LCDs are everywhere. It is in our TV, our laptop, inside projectors, inside our phones, and even on the credit card machine when we check out at a store. When LCDs are everywhere spending the money for larger LCD plants that lead to cheaper displays make more sense than a plasma plant that only makes TVs.

The final straw might be the rise of 4K. As detailed in an article at HDTV Test, making a 4K plasma is hard to impossible. The limitations that keep us from seeing plasma screens under 42” will keep us from seeing a reasonable 4K plasma display. When the writing is on the wall like this, it probably makes sense for Panasonic to move away from plasma to LCD.

Four years is forever

My 50” plasma, a Samsung PN50B650, is just over four years old. At the time it was a mid-range model that was affordable and let me replace my hulking DLP display. Though the Samsung works perfectly, and is calibrated to be very accurate, I felt the need to upgrade to the Panasonic VT60 before it went away for good. What I didn’t expect was how much things had improved in this time.

The VT60 manages to completely blow away the Samsung in every way. Subpixel noise, which makes many people avoid plasma, is almost non-existent now. Black levels are an order of magnitude better and the contrast ratio is 20x as high.  The peak light output, despite being a 60” model instead of 50”, is far higher and I can push over 50 fL now instead of 32 fL. For watching during the day this makes a large difference.

The VT60 also has filters to help reduce reflections on the screen. Compared to my older plasma with a plain glass screen, reflections are more subdued. I have it directly across from a large window and have no issues watching football on a Sunday afternoon. Even with ambient light the improvement in black level is instantly apparent over the older plasma. It is almost impossible to determine when letterbox bars end and the screen bezel begins. Aside from a $9,000 OLED display nothing I have seen in person comes close to the blacks the Panasonic VT60 can produce.

Compared to my old display the Panasonic VT60 is far better in design and profile. It weighs less at 60” than my old display did for 50” and it is far, far thinner. I never bothered with the thinnest wall mount because the plasma was so thick but now I will. The three HDMI inputs are all mounted to the left side and HDMI 2 supports Audio Return Channel. There is also an optical output for the integrated tuner and apps.

There are three USB ports for photos, movies or music and they will also power a Chromecast. It even includes an SD card reader for photos. In a nice little touch the IR sensor extends to the bottom of the display so IR emitters for universal remotes are hidden away.

I’m not a fan of the included touch-pad remote. It is too hard to navigate around using it and the voice search does not work that well for me. Searching for “Netflix” or “Hulu Plus” brings up a lot of options, none of which is the app I want. The standard remote is better, though the Home button is too large and prominent I feel. I’m happy that Panasonic provides the normal remote and the gimmick remote as other companies only offer one.

So, So Black

Watching anything on it is a joy. The bright colorful trains when my sons watch Thomas and Friends jump off the screen. Everything is bright and bold, but also dead-on accurate. Watching football on the VT60 the motion is very good compared to a LCD. The Panasonic VT60 offers motion interpolation, of which I am not a fan, if you want things even more fluid.  Even if you have a snowstorm, like during the Lions-Eagles game this year, t