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Panasonic Premiere plasmas are great, but not quite as good as Kuro

CNET editors review the Panasonic TH-VX100U series of plasmas, dubbed "Premiere," which are designed for custom installation and high-end home theater.

The Panasonic Premiere series of plasma TVs has its roots in the company's professional monitor lineup. CNET

Despite the fact that Pioneer has exited the HDTV business, we still consider its Elite Kuro plasma TVs, such as the PRO-111FD, the best-performing televisions we've ever tested. Now Panasonic has released a new lineup of so-called Premiere plasmas that takes direct aim at the Kuros. While they deliver a superb picture, they still fall a bit short of the mark.

We reviewed the 65-inch member of the series, model TH-65VX100U ($9,995 list), and there's a 50-inch version coming in late February, model TH-50VX100U ($4,995 list). Aside from their high price tags, these displays must overcome the fact that Panasonic announced a slew of new plasmas at CES that use the company's next-generation NEO PDP panels, which consume less power and deliver even deeper black levels, according to the company. Before somebody asks, no, the Premiere series does not use the new panels.

Still, there's a lot to like about these expensive displays. Picture quality is excellent, with deep black levels and superb shadow detail, although color accuracy (along with black level) didn't match the Kuro. The Premiere plasmas have the same build quality we lauded on Panasonic's standard professional monitors, like the TH-50PF11UK. They also share some of the same "professional" characteristics, such as the necessity to purchase a separate stand and speakers if you need them, and relatively sparse input selection.

Read the full review of the Panasonic TH-VX100U Premiere series.

Below you'll find the settings we found best for viewing the 65-inch Panasonic TH-65VX100U in a completely dark room via the HDMI input with a 1080p, film-based source. Your settings may very depending on source, room conditions and personal preference. Check out the Picture settings and calibration FAQ for more information.

The TH-VX100U also comes in a 50-inch screen size, model TH-50VX100U. While we don't expect the settings below to apply as well to the 50-inch version as they did to the 65-incher, they should be in the ballpark.

The Panasonic TH-VX100U series is equipped with an External Scalar mode that disables all of the set's video processing, as well as many of its picture settings. The settings in bold below are the ones that remain active when you select that mode. In general, however, we recommend keeping external scalar mode turned off to allow full adjustment, as well as compatibility with non-1080p sources.

Picture Menu: Cinema
Picture: 30>
Brightness: 14
Color: -10
Tint: 0
Sharpness: 0
Color Temp: Warm
Color Management: Off

Advanced Settings Menu:
Black Extension: 0
Input Level: 0
Gamma: 2.2
AGC: Off
W/B High R: 4
W/B High G: 24
W/B High B: 23
W/B Low R: 0
W/B Low B: 1
W/B Low G: 2
3:2 pull-down: On
Noise Reduction: Off

Pos/Size Menu:
1:1 Pixel Mode: On