When it comes to high-end HD sets, you get what you pay for. And in the case of Panasonic's new top-of-the-line plasma set, it's worth every cent.
What Is It?
A THX-certified flat-screen television, and arguably the single best-looking plasma set on the market right now.
Who's It For?
People whose home theatres are actually theatres — not just two rows of couches and some blackout curtains — and want their display to reflect the investment. Simply put, rich folk.
The VT60 may be beautiful to look at, but that's only when it's on. The 55-inch single-sheet screen is surrounded by a roughly 2-inch black bezel and rested atop a flat, silvery-grey stand — just like most every other one we've seen. Nothing about the set itself really stands out save for the integrated pop-up camera.
Setup was simple and straightforward but exhaustive. Setting up the TV and stand requires at least two people and performing the initial software registrations — setting up Wi-Fi, setting up the voice-control, setting up the motion-tracking remote, setting the home screen options, registering streaming accounts, etc — took the better part of an hour, and that's not including calibrating the picture.
The VT60 offers a slew of calibration setting options. In addition to the standard sharpness, brightness, hue and saturation tweaks, you can apply filtering like the Brilliance Enhancer, Motion Smoother and others. It also has a full complement of ISFccc options for professional installers.
While the video camera's facial recognition feature (which loads a personalised home screen depending on who turned it on) is more gimmick than feature, the voice command functionality is freakin' awesome. Panasonic built a mic into the Viera touch remote so that it now not only acts as a mouse for web browsing and data input, it also understands your speech. This allows you to effortlessly input user information, dictate web addresses, and even control video playback. And it actually, you know, works.
The Best Part
Once you get through the setup and actually sit down with this set, it's just incredible. The black levels and shadow details are unreal, the colour accuracy is nearly perfect and the colours themselves are syrupy-saturated without making skin tones overtly Boehner-orange. This is one great, great looking screen. What's more, it's expansive enough to hold a video feed and a web browser window simultaneously without looking squeezed and crowded.
The bright room performance is nothing to write home about, with noticeable glare even when watching on overcast days. Also having an integrated camera constantly staring at you would make watching porn on this thing rather uncomfortable.
This Is Weird...
Calibrations are tailored per input — that is, the Custom calibration setting you set on HDMI 1 can be different from the same setting on HDMI 2 and 3 — which is helpful if you use the one channel for normal TV watching in a well-lit room but turn the lights down to watch DVDs on HDMI 2. Handy, but can also be a pain if you want the same calibration across all channels.
- The VT60 loves to auto-switch between input channels on its own accord when you turn a device on or off.
- The Viera's voice recognition isn't Google-good but it's definitely better than typing.
- For this test, I used the Mastered in 4K version of Ghostbusters, Blu-ray discs that will also be able to play on the 4K TV you get after this one.
Should I Buy It?
Whether or not you want to shell out $3500 for the best-performing plasma we've seen in the past year is entirely up to you.
- Class: 55 inches or 65 inches
- Display: plasma 1080p
- Media player: SD/USB & DLNA
- 3D: active (two pairs of glasses included)
- I/O: 3x HDMI, 3x USB, SD, Composite, RJ-45, DAO, Voice command
- THX: THX 3D Certified
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet
- Sound: 2x 5W fronts, 1x 10W sub
- Notable features: Smart TV (built-in web browsing and content streaming), My Home Screen (personalised content presentation), Swipe & Share 2.0 (content sharing from mobile devices), Voice Commands
- Price: $3499 RRP in Australia