Many TV manufacturers are determined to focus on LED and OLED technologies to power their current generation and next generation HDTVs. Of course, these wonderful technologies come at an added cost which is why the ordinary LCD models are still available for those on a tight budget. But what ever happened to plasma displays? Plasma had its negative reputation for being outdated, thicker, consuming more power and possibility of image burn in. But Panasonic is one of the few companies that still believe in plasma displays and the Panasonic TC-P55ST60 is living proof that plasma technology can be affordable while excelling in the attribute that matters the most – picture quality.
The TC-P55ST60 is a fairly new 55-inch model for 2013 and it enters an arena of ridiculously slim 50+ inch displays with pencil-thin bezels. The Panasonic TC-P55ST60 may not have those pencil-thin attributes but it still looks great with fairly a thin bezel that helps modernize that classic and simple monolithic style. For a plasma display, it is also nice to see Panasonic take the environment into consideration by designing a panel that is both lead and mercury free. The panel was also built to last so you can essentially watch TV 8 hours a day and won’t notice any brightness reductions until at least 30 years later.
For a mid-range display, the TC-P55ST60 has a nice arrangement of connection ports with 3 HDMI ports on the side along with a pair of USB 2.0 ports. There is also an SD card slot that can accept those high-capacity SDXC cards. Finally, there is an Ethernet port although it probably won’t be needed since this display has Wi-Fi built in.
Panasonic’s Infinite Black Pro technology is infused in the Panasonic TC-P55ST60 and it allows the display to show off its very deep black levels when those dark scenes kick in. In addition to that, the picture quality as a whole is simply stunning and it easily looks better than even some of the competing LCD and LED models that are priced a little bit more. Since 55-inch displays are excellent for the living room, the TC-P55ST60 really flaunts the images well even if you are viewing from afar. Colors are accurate and the shadows are well-detailed. Even bright-room performance is decent although it can underperform compared to non-plasma models when placed in very bright rooms. The overall quality is so good that you don’t really have to understand the technologies responsible for the good quality like the “2,500 Focused Field Drive“.
The Panasonic TC-P55ST60 is also a 3D display which is good if you have a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player and love to watch 3D movies. Unfortunately, the 3D quality isn’t stellar compared to other displays but Panasonic at least decided to include 2 sets of 3D glasses so you can immediately enjoy the third dimension. There is also a 2D to 3D conversion feature which you can turn on in case you don’t have 3D content to watch.
The TC-P55ST60 is also a “Smart TV” and it has plenty of features that you would normally find in a flagship TV that was released a couple of years ago. The “My Home Screen” feature serves as a gateway to these features where you have the freedom to personalize your own main screen. You get to decide what particular apps and widgets you want to see in this home screen. There are plenty to choose from ranging from weather and calendar apps to RSS and video-on-demand apps. The cool thing about this feature is that other people in the house can create their own personalized home screens too and switching presets is simple.
Plenty of features contribute to the smart experience but the VIERA Connect service still stands out because it lets you enjoy all sorts of video-on-demand content and there is a good selection of games and educational media. Plus, there is a full-featured Web browser that can supports HTML5 so you should be able to browse today’s websites. Since wireless LAN is built in, you don’t have to worry about hooking up a cable to the router or dealing with complicated settings. No extra adapter is needed either. With an Internet connection, you can access numerous services like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus. DLNA compatibility also means that you can stream videos, pictures and music from other PCs and laptops in the network.
The other features are a little bit on the gimmicky side but they can still be useful. The VIERA remote 2 comes in the form of a free downloadable app that iOS and Android users can install. It basically serves as a more interactive alternative to the usual remote control as you can immediately adjust settings like the color and brightness settings right from the smartphone or tablet. For more basic operations like adjusting the volume, you can also use the voice guidance feature to control those functions without using a remote.This app has this pretty cool feature called Panasonic Swipe and Share 2.0 that lets you swipe images, audio tracks and videos towards the display so they immediately appear there. If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on the optional electronic touch pen accessory, you can use the Panasonic TC-P55ST60 as a nice 55-inch whiteboard where you can write notes and add captions to pictures.
If you are not so into networking, you can always view photos or videos the traditional way using the USB port. Plenty of file types are supported including JPEG, MP4, MOV, AVCHD, MP3, AAC and FLAC. You may also extend the TVís screen to the tablet or smartphone in case you want to display any photos stored on the connected USB on the portable device.
The TC-P55ST60 may consume more electricity than any LCD or LED display out there but this Panasonic plasma display definitely takes the crown for price-to-performance ratio. $1,499 is simply an unbeatable price for the picture quality that you get and it deserves to be one of the top picks for 2013 even if the other features won’t be used.
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