Plasma TVs have been on life support for quite some time but a few companies continue to stick around. Panasonic was one of the biggest contributors to this category as it continued to produce highly impressive plasma TVs that beat LED TVs in a lot of ways while still being competitively priced. But the results were unfortunately unprofitable for the Japanese giant and it led to the announcement of the company discontinuing plasma development by March 2014. Popular models like the ZT60 and VT60 series will be remembered as truly impressive 1080p displays with very deep blacks. But models in the low-end spectrum like the Panasonic TC-P50S60 deserve some recognition too and should be priced far less the original price.
Low-end displays always get the basic design treatment and the TC-P50S60 is no exception. But plasma TVs were designed to be big anyway so the overall look shouldn’t matter that much. That being said, the design of the Panasonic TC-P50S60 isn’t so bad with a reasonably thin bezel with nice silver highlights running across the very top and bottom bezels. It looks like a standard LED TV at best and should match well with the other home theater components. The glossy black pedestal supports the plasma TV well but it would have been nicer if it allowed the TV to swivel.
One of the main issues of the flagship Panasonic ZT60 series was its number of HDMI ports (3). 3 HDMI ports would have been more understandable for the lower costing TC-P50S60 but the number was brought down to just 2 HDMI ports. Some consumers with a gaming console and standard media player could be fine with that limitation but owners of multiple gaming consoles and set-top boxes would have to purchase an AV receiver or HDMI switcher.
The Panasonic TC-P50S60 is positioned as an entry-level model but is more well-equipped than the barebones X60 series (which also has a 50-inch model). To start things off, the TC-P50S60 features a 1080p display making this Panasonic’s cheapest plasma 1080p TV. It has none of the fancy bells and whistles that the more expensive Panasonic displays have like the Focused Field Drive, Ultimate/Infinite Black filter and NeoPlasma Black panel. Instead, the display settles for the ordinary 600 Hz Sub-field Drive which was a staple feature in past plasma displays. Despite the lack of these fancy things, the Panasonic TC-P50S60 still manages to impress providing that the lighting conditions are ideal. The 6,144 steps in gradation look inferior to the 10,000+ steps of gradation featured in higher-end models but color accuracy was still very good and quite comparable to LED displays. The standard LED versus plasma issues apply with the TC-P50S60 but one area where the Panasonic TC-P50S60 decisively beats the other LED displays is in deep blacks. Deep blacks are phenomenal with great shadow detail.
Aside from the limited HDMI ports, the main weakness of the TC-P50S60 is its picture quality in brighter lighting conditions. Dark scenes become grayish and colors get washed out under bright lighting. Plus, the maximum brightness level is pretty inferior compared to the latest LCD displays. The reflective panel doesn’t help either. Higher-end models, particularly the flagship ZT60 series do not have this issue.
The Panasonic TC-P50S60 isn’t exactly a smart TV nor it is a 3D TV but this TV manages to keep the most essential networking features intact. The TV’s built-in Wi-Fi makes it very simple to set the TV up for Internet. Once the TV successfully connects to the router, you will find that your options are fairly limited compared to the higher-end Panasonic TVs with the full VIERA Connect experience. The My Home Screen feature for instance is absent and you won’t be able to install apps. Instead, you have 6 apps to deal with fortunately, they are all key apps – Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, CinemaNow and Hulu Plus. Music lovers will be disappointed here but nothing should stop you from plugging in a real PC or set-top box so you can enjoy additional features if you are willing to sacrifice that HDMI port. Because the networking features are so basic, the interface is easier to navigate and less bloated.
It also has DLNA support which means that any active Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers actively sharing content can stream media to the TV. If the performance is too slow,
If your connection isn’t so fast, you also have the option to enjoy movies, music, photo slideshows and other media stored on a flash drive. With DLNA compliance, the Panasonic TC-P60S60 can also stream media stored in DLNA-compliant computers (basically any Windows 7/8 computer). If the performance is sluggish, you can either use the Ethernet port for faster network speeds or go the traditional route and put stuff on a USB drive so 1 of the 2 available USB ports on the TV can read the content. No SD card slot can be found on the TC-P50S60 unlike the more advanced models.
Another fun feature is the TV’s support for the VIERA Remote 2 app which is available for free on Google Play and the iTunes App Store. This means that Android and iOS devices can serve as secondary remote controls where you can change settings through Wi-Fi. It comes with a nice feature called Swipe & Share which allows you to take any photo on the screen and put it on the TV after performing a swipe gesture.
The Panasonic TC-P50S60 is a 50-inch plasma TV is strictly recommended for people that are aware of the display’s weaknesses in bright lighting conditions and lack of 3D functionality. Once you accept the weakness and actually decide to get the TC-P50S60, you will be rewarded with massive savings without sacrificing so much in overall picture quality and even online features.
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