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CNET First Look
Panasonic's ZT60 plasma has the best picture everFive years after Pionner's Kuro and a few before OLED becomes mainstream, Panasonic's ZT60 plasma TV now owns the picture quality crown. But is it worth the extra cost?
Hi. I'm David Katzmaier, senior editor at CNET. And next to me is the Panasonic TC-PZT60. This is a 60-inch plasma TV. This series also comes in a 65. And this is hands down the best TV that Panasonic has ever made. It's also one of the best TVs we've ever tested. The picture quality on this thing is phenomenal, but of course, I'll wait till the end to talk about that. Starting off, this TV has really sleek design. Around the front, you can see it's all glass; one big sheet of glass across the front. There's also a really nice metal edge here. The stand is not swiveling. It's really kinda ugly-looking below the belt. It's got sort of this V-shape, all chrome plate and everything. But of course, if you can afford this TV, you're probably gonna wall-mount it anyway. Seeing from the side like most brand of plasma, it's also really thin. So, it's really not that much thicker than an LED TV. This is a high-end set, so Panasonic did throw in an extra remote. It's got a little Touchpad on it, so it's great for navigating the web-- this TV does have a built-in browser-- or just flipping around the menus a lot faster than a standard remote. Of course, the downside is there's not too many buttons on here. And it's not really gonna replace the standard remote that the TV does come with. One nice touch remote extra, though, is the voice control. You can speak into it and do a couple commands on to the TV just by activating your voice. You can also perform a couple of searches and activate some apps with voice. The remote is also Bluetooth, so you don't have to have line of sight to control the television. Panasonic Smart TV suite has some of the best content out there, but it doesn't have HPO Go. That's a Samsung exclusive this year. It does have Netflix, Amazon Instant, Vudu and pretty much every other app you want, however, including a healthy selection of audio apps. The app store is pretty nice. There's even some physical merchandise you can buy with this thing. And as we mentioned, there's a web browser. But if you want heavy use you can-- you wanna plug in a USB keyboard. Of course, the TV does work with standard third-party keyboards. That's a nice touch if you're heavy in the web browser. Unlike some high-end TVs, this does not include a built-in camera; that's actually reserved for the step-down VT series. The set also doesn't have the beefy speakers included on the VT, so its sound quality isn't quite as good. Another feature Panasonic throws in is two pairs of Active 3D glasses, so you don't need to buy separate glasses that retail for about 80 bucks. You get two in the box for free. Connectivity isn't quite as good as some of the other high-end TVs out. There's only three HDMI ports instead of two, and also a few USB ports, as well as an SD card slot and a component video input. Picture settings on the ZT60 are extensive. This TV does have the ability to adjust 10 points of grayscale and Gamma. There's also a full-color management system, as well as a couple of THX modes so you can zap this TV right into excellent picture quality with the push of a button. So again, the picture quality adjustments, pretty much as good as we've seen on any TV. That brings the picture quality, which is the main reason you'd want to pay extra for this television. The real benefit this TV over the step-down VT60 is not in a dark room. They actually have pretty much identical dark room picture quality including those super inky black levels that are good enough to challenge the Kuro, which long reigned as the black level champion. This TV's advantage is in bright room. So, when you turn up the lights a little bit, you'll notice that it preserves black levels just a little bit better than the VT and better than pretty much any other plasma you've seen. Of course, in a brighter room it's not gonna produce as good of a picture as some of the better LED TVs which can get a lot brighter, and it won't get as bright as the excellent Samsung F8500. So, if you have a very bright room, there are a couple of better options out there. Then again, for all-around picture quality, the ZT60 is the best we've seen, including those super deep black levels; it also has excellent color accuracy, superb video processing, and excellent off-angle and uniformity characteristics we expect from any plasma TV. In addition to all that great 2D picture quality, this TV is also an excellent performer in 3D, although not quite as good as some of the brighter TVs out there. So, of course, the ZT60 is not cheap. In fact, it's one of the most expensive plasma TVs we've ever seen. But for that, you do get superb picture quality-- again, the best we've tested. That's a quick look at Panasonic's ZT60 plasma TV. I'm David Katzmaier with CNET.