"An Outstanding TV for the 99%"5.0 starson by Roland-Arnold
Pros: + Superb colors and black level
+ Extensive pro-level calibration settings
+ User interface is impressive and easy to navigate
+ 2 free pair of 3D glasses included
+ Great price
Cons: - TV inputs are in a weird position close to the left edge of the TV and could cause certain stiff HDMI/etc cables to be noticeable
Summary: I am definitely not a videophile but am a techie. So when searching for a TV to replace our twenty year old Sony tube (which is still great) I was able to catch on pretty quickly to new features. Our list was fairly simple: light TV viewing, medium movie viewing, light video game usage, light web and apps usage, $1500 or less and 50+ inches.
As my daughter and I drove to Costco she poured over the March 2013 Consumer Reports and had concluded that we should get a Panasonic plasma. I like Panasonic but has reservations about plasma based on vague anecdotes about short life spans and energy use. We arrived at Costco and were lucky enough to quickly find their electronics guru. I described our criteria and he firmly recommended the Panasonic ST and VT plasma's but said Costco did not carry them.
We looked around Costco's impressive selection and asked for guidance. Features aside, our eyes easily picked out the sharpest pictures and they were the Samsung Smart TVs in the $1550 - $2800 range (we didn't bother to look at the more expensive sets). The $1550 Samsung did not have 3D, had a plain plastic bezel and was at the high end of our price range so we were at an impasse. The friendly guru reminded us that in his estimation, the Panasonic ST50 (exactly the one Consumer Reports raved about) or the 2013 version, ST60, was his first choice by far in our price range. We left empty-handed.
That evening we researched the Panasonic and found that it really was in a class by itself for the price, underscored by CNET's 5-star rave review. So we headed to a local video store the next night and checked out their selection and came to the same conclusion: Samsung Smart TVs and a couple others had outstanding pictures. But the Panasonic Viera 55" ST60, at nearly half the price, stood fearlessly among the best. The decision was easy. Not surprisingly, the store was fully stocked on Friday but by Monday night had only one left in the region so we had to drive further to selfishly snag it.
We've barely scratched the surface but setup was easy and the remote is fine though not universal. The picture is jaw-dropping and is plenty bright in our fairly sunny living room. The user interface is impressive and easy to navigate (Netflix, YouTube, web, etc.). On a humorous note, my daughter downloaded the Panasonic app for her iPhone and commandeered the TV, rendering my remote useless. Then, with a flick of her fingers, swiped a picture from her iPhone onto the TV screen. We will send in the rebate to order a touch pen that allows drawing on-screen and, apparently, is free.
Worth noting: because the TV's processing power is so robust, it is prone to something called the "Soap Opera Effect" (Google it). This is not unique to Panasonic. The TV interpolates frames to make the picture as smooth as possible. In most contexts this is probably desirable. But watching a movie I immediately sensed something bothersome. The movie lost a certain richness and didn't look like film, but more a nicely produced PBS British serial. Fortunately, a quick Googling provided guidance: simply turn down / off motion smoothing. In the ST60's case, it's a menu option called "Motion Smooth." Upon turning it off, we were instantly dropped into the front row of a grand cinema.
For great place to buy this TV, I suggest at: Amazon.com/dp/B00AVRJK76/?tag=cnetamz-offers-20
I hope this review is helpful.