TV shoppers: Now is the time to buy a Panasonic plasma

Panasonic has confirmed that its excellent plasma-based televisions won't be available for sale after March 2014. If you were waiting to get a new TV, now's the best, and close to the last, time you can acquire one of our favorites.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
3 min read

S60 series: 42-inch (sold out), 50-inch ($699), 55-inch (sold out), 60-inch (sold out), 65-inch ($1,499)
Best for: Tighter budgets, somewhat dimmer rooms, serious twitch video gamers.

The S60 represents the low end of Panasonic's 1080p plasma lineup, but its picture quality is simply phenomenal for the price. Its main downside is a screen finish that doesn't hold up well in bright rooms. It's not a full-fledged dumb TV, but the selection of just six apps -- Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, YouTube, Hulu Plus, and CinemaNow -- is refreshingly simple and easy to access via a little pop-up menu and built-in Wi-Fi. Among the TVs on this list it also has the lowest input lag, making it the best choice for twitch gamers.
Read the full review of the Panasonic TC-PS60 series.

ST60 series: 50-inch ($999), 55-inch ($1,499*), 60-inch ($1,499), 65-inch ($2,599)
Best for: Mainstream budgets, picture quality enthusiasts who aren't serious twitch gamers.

Until the ST60 came along, we'd never given a five-star review to a TV at CNET. It's just that good. The picture quality will please even the most persnickety videophile, although those who can afford better might be even happier with a VT or ZT below. Gamers who demand instantaneous response should avoid this laggy set, but more-casual gamers are unlikely to notice the difference. We gave the ST60 and S60 the same 10 in value, but the ST's superior antireflective screen makes it much more versatile under all kinds of lighting. If you're not on an extra-tight budget, it's worth stepping up to the ST even if you don't care about its added features like Smart TV and 3D.
Read the full review of the Panasonic TC-PST60 series.

VT60 series: 55-inch ($1,599) ($1,499), 60-inch ($1,799) ($1,849), 65-inch ($2,149) ($2,299)
Best for: Videophiles who don't demand the ZT60's picture.

This plasma earned a 10 in image quality and outperforms every other TV we've ever reviewed, with the exception of legendary Pioneer Kuro (the VT60 basically tied it) and of course Big Zed below. It beats the ST60 in every way including daytime viewing, although if your living room is particularly bright, the ZT60 is an even better choice. In the dark the two are equal in every important way, however -- and when you throw in its superior sound quality and features, the VT is the better value, too.
Read the full review of the Panasonic TC-PVT60 series.

ZT60 series: 60-inch ($2,499), 65-inch ($3,199)
Best for: Those who want the best non-OLED picture available today.

Did we mention value before? OK, well, compared with OLED or 4K TVs, the ZT60 isn't a bad value at all. It's still crazy-expensive, however, and only high-end shoppers with a burning desire to own the best image quality we've ever tested need apply. It beats the VT60 in only one area, bright rooms, but on the other hand isn't quite as good in those situations as the ultrabright Samsung PNF8500, or any of the brighter LED-based LCDs. The ZT60 trounces the F8500 and any LED LCD in the friendly confines of a dark room, however, giving it an overall edge that deserves the "reference" hype.
Read the full review of the Panasonic TC-PZT60 series.

Looking for specs and more info? Compare these TVs head-to-head. Click through to the reviews for additional screen sizes.