Panasonic has been top of the picture-quality pile for the past five-plus years, ever since the Pioneer Kuro (now known as the "K-word") bowed out of the frame. Panasonic inherited technology and engineers in Pioneer's shakeup and has been inching toward beating the K-word ever since, but never quite got there. I would argue that 2013 is the year Panasonic has finally cracked it.
The VT60 is an excellent plasma with perhaps the best image quality you'll see this year not powered by light-emitting diodes. It is a shade better than the Kuro we've been using as a reference these long years, it beats the Samsung F8500 in critical dim-room viewing situations, and it's demonstrably better than the ST60. It boasts industry-leading black levels, illuminating shadow detail, and rich, saturated colors.
There are a couple of problems, however. The first is price: the VT60 is exactly twice the cost of the ST60, and its picture is by no stretch of the imagination twice as good. In other words, this is a TV not just for videophiles, but, like the Kuro and the F8500, it's a TV for relatively wealthy videophiles.
Another problem looms for those who can afford it: Panasonic's own ZT60, a step-up model the company describes as delivering "beyond the reference" picture quality that's even better than that of the VT60. Videophiles in this tax bracket who simply want the best picture quality they can get, money no object, won't bat an eye at the extra $500 the ZT60 demands.
We haven't reviewed the ZT60 yet, so we don't know whether it can live up to those claims, but as soon as we do, we'll update this review. In the meantime, we do know one thing: the Panasonic VT60 is the best-performing TV we've ever seen.
Read the full review of the Panasonic VT60.
May 6, 2013 4:16 PM PDT
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET
| Caption by: Ty Pendlebury
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