Panasonic's best plasma TV for 2012 beat out five other contenders. In descending order of average score (see the scorecard below), they were the Samsung PN64E8000 plasma, the Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD LCD, the Samsung UNES8000 LCD, the LG 60PM9700 plasma and the Panasonic TC-L47WT50 LCD. Despite a lower average score, the voters gave the Elite second place overall however, ahead of the Samsung PNE8000.
The Panasonic VT50 outscored the others in color accuracy and general content quality, and pulled in close second-place finishes in the other three categories. Sony was the only major TV brand absent from the list, which is too bad since I'd be curious to see how the KDL-55HX850 would fare against this crowd.
Scores were derived from votes cast by the attending audience of videophiles over two days. The shootout -- which I did not attend and which is not affiliated with CNET -- has been put on by Scarsdale, NY, electronics retailer Value Electronics for the last eight years. Last year's winner was the Sharp Elite while the 2010 crown went to another Panasonic plasma, the VT25.
Proprietor Robert Zohn stresses the unbiased nature of the event. Three professional calibrators, including former CNET TV reviewer Kevin Miller, calibrated the TVs to ensure a level playing field. Industry and independent figures, including Larry F. Weber, creator of plasma TV, presented to the audience.
Zohn told me this would be the first of two shootouts in 2012. The second one will be held sometime in the fall, after OLED TVs become available for sale. He plans to pit the upcoming LG and Samsung OLED sets against the top three winners of this event.
This article was updated to reorder the TVs by average score and clarify 2nd and 3rd place votes from the audience.