Hands On Panasonic’s 2013 VT60 Series Plasma HDTV
Last week we paid a visit to Panasonic’s US headquarters to get our first post-CES look at Panasonic’s TC-P55VT60 plasma. Panasonic reconfigured its plasma TV line-up for 2013, making the VT series the next to top-of-the line of its new 60 series. In descending order it’s now the ZT, VT, ST, S and X60 series. We also had a chance to compare side-by-side its 2012 VT50 plasma against the VT60.
The VT includes numerous picture and feature advances over the 50 series. Read the details after the break.
Plasmas emit light via a voltage pulse within on each sub-pixel (red, blue, and green). When a voltage is applied to the electrodes within, UV light is emitted, which in turn causes the phosphors within to emit red, blue or green light. Combined as a single pixel white light is created. One of the improvements is a shorter peak firing time for 2013. Last year it was 1/2500th of a second (Panasonic called it 2500 Focus Field Drive). This year it’s a 3000 Focus Field Drive or 1/3000th of a second per pulse. Panasonic claims this creates better motion sharpness and permits more gradations of black to white. The VT60 is spec’d at 30,720 steps, up from last year’s VT50’s 24,576.
The VT60 panel includes a new red phosphor for deeper (less orange) reds.
Due to our short time with this new plasma we relied on the default THX mode settings for our evaluation and comparison (we checked the settings for accuracy using our HD signal generator). Please note, Panasonic’s product manager referred to this sample as a pilot production model. The results may differ when we receive a unit from its normal production run.
With a TC-P55VT50 side-by side we observed deeper blacks on the VT60. Unfortunately, the room could not be completely darkened, likely inflating our meter reading of .002 ft. lamberts for black on the VT60. In our visual comparisons using the Skyfall Blu-ray disc, the VT60’s image had better contrast with brighter whites and deeper blacks. In a simple terms, it had more “pop”. Reds were also redder when compared to last year’s VT50. There is a DCI color mode for a wider color gamut, however we stuck to the HD (Rec. 709) color mode for our evaluations.
The VT60 also has a new signal processing for claimed improved performance with all resolution sources including streaming Internet video such as YouTube or Amazon Instant. We checked out the HD performance and confirmed it passed all the signal processing tests on the HQV HD test disc.
The VT60 has 3 HDMI inputs down from 4 last year. It also has 3 USB jacks as well as Wi-Fi. There are numerous controls for picture settings as well as modes for THXand ISF calibration modes. New for 2013 is a Color Management app for Andriod and iOS devices. The app features a CIE color diagram and provides the ability to change the color points of the primary (red, blue and green) and secondary (cyan, magenta and yellow) colors, gamma and other picture criteria. If it works as well as it looks, this app could be really a nice aid in calibration (of course you will need an accurate color meter to find verify the settings).
The user interface (shown above on the 2013 WT60) is all new for 2013. Its “Home Screen” provides live content as well as customization for up to 5 users. You decide what you want to see on the portal screen such as weather, favorite channel content etc. The built-in HD video camera enables face recognition to determine the user as well as Skype video calls. In addition, you can leave a video message to a family member. A notice will appear on the Home Screen the next time the TV is powered up.
There is also an optional touch pen that permits writing notes on the screen or captioning photos.
Voice interaction is used for searching by speech for content. For example you can say Ahna O’Reilly movies and the list will pop-up. There is a touchpad remote control as well as a standard unit included. In addition to apps, movie and music content via Amazon, Netflix and other sources, the VT60 has a web browser and a text to audio function, that will read to you printed text.
The VT60 also permits photos and video to be transferred from the TV to a tablet/phone or visa-versa. The Panasonic VT60 is compatible to both iOS and Android devices.
We have requested a sample ASAP and will perform a full review under more controlled conditions as soon as we can.
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