Panasonic has been "kicking goals" for years with its plasma range but has struggled to produce competitive LED LCDs. While its performance is seemingly a bit better than the previous model, which put up one of the worst pictures of last year, the new DT60 still flounders against its 2013 peers.
The DT60 offers a striking design, probably one of the company's best ever, and nifty features such as voice search. Its picture quality is just mediocre though, for while color is better than last year, black levels are similarly poor -- and I simply expect much more at this price.
The DT60 is a case of "better, but not nearly good enough," and until proven otherwise, we'll continue to strongly recommend Panasonic's plasmas and just as strongly tell you to avoid its LED LCDs.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 55-inch TC-P55DT60, but this review also applies to the 60-inch size in the series. Both sizes have identical specs, and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
The DT60 is a fine-looking television, with a very thin chrome bezel and the same kind of floating glass/plastic bottom edge that first appeared on Sony's TVs. It comes comes attached to a swiveling silver stand via the now-familiar V-shaped plinth. While last year's LG G2, for example, shared a similar color scheme, it didn't look anywhere near as classy as this.
The TV ships with two silver remotes -- one standard-issue Panasonic and a touch-pad remote. The standard remote is covered with a plethora of buttons but is easy to use, if only the Menu button was a little more obvious. The touch-pad remote is similar to that which ships with the VT60 and incorporates an onboard microphone, but lacks some of the buttons you'll need for the new Home interface such as apps and the colored buttons.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Edge-lit|
|Screen finish||Glossy||Remote||Standard and Touchpad|
|Smart TV||Yes||Internet connection||Built-in Wi-Fi|
|3D technology||Passive||3D glasses included||Four pairs|
|Refresh rate(s)||120Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes|
Voice interaction is probably the "biggest" feature of the DT60, with a microphone integrated into the touch-pad remote, but this is all very tied to the Web-browser (see below).
The TV is a passive 3D model, and thus Panasonic is able to include four pairs of glasses in the box -- they're cheap to make compared to active glasses. If you ever kept the 3D glasses from the cinema, you can use those as well.
Like many LED LCD TV makers, Panasonic is inflating the number associated with its refresh-rate specification; in the DT60's case the claim reads "1200 backlight scanning." At least the company is honest enough to include the "120Hz" spec too, which is the only one that really matters.
If you have a smartphone, Panasonic's improved Viera Remote app enables some functions like basic control if you misplace the remote and "swipe and share" to display photos on the big screen. It also allows direct access to relatively advanced calibration functions, although I didn't test this feature.
Smart TV: Panasonic customizable "welcome screens" lack the pizzazz of competing Smart TV systems and with their analog clocks and calendars look more like a '90s version of Microsoft Office than a modern entertainment suite.
The multiple "pages" show the currently playing input in an inset window along with the grid of apps. You can place any app anywhere you want on the grid, a welcome change from interfaces from makers like Samsung that offer only partial customization. Panasonic ups the custom ante further by offering three different templates for new pages you can create, custom backgrounds (including your own pictures), and the ability to name pages -- for example, each member of a particularly tech-savvy family could set up his or her own page.
The series of new home screens are an interesting idea, but I'm not too certain people will customize more than one screen -- even large households. You can easily toggle between each one if you like, though.
The app selection is superb and very similar to last year's with Netflix, Amazon Instant, and Hulu Plus all present. If you want to dive into the non-pre-installed selection in the Viera Marketplace, there's also Vudu, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, Rhapsody, and full episodes and photos from a Panasonic-sponsored series on National Geographic TV about World Heritage sites. There are also a smattering of kids apps and a few forgettable games.
With the touch-pad remote comes voice search, but it's much more limited than Samsung's system -- it doesn't integrate with your cable box or any many Smart applications, but mostly lets you search the Web. Yes, the TV includes a Web browser, but with better browsers on mobile devices, who really needs one on their TV? Navigation is a little better with the touch pad, but sometimes pages don't render properly, and using voice search results in a two-step process that is frustrating at best -- especially when it mishears your search terms! While you can also browse connected USB disks or networked servers, it's probably something most people will use only once.