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Panasonic TC-P55ST60 3D Plasma HTF Equipment Review

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#1 of 24 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted May 13 2013 - 07:19 AM

Panasonic TC-P55ST60 3D Plasma HTF Equipment Review

I’ve spent a lot of time this year focusing on our new theater room. In putting together that room, I wanted the best that I could get.. within reason, and I wanted to be able to have a theater that really brought the movie experience home. As we worked to build that room, I realized – with a little prodding – that I spend more than my fair share of time watching TV in our bedroom, and the 4+ year old Samsung 46” LCD we were using could use a refresh too.

One of the decisions to make really revolves around how much money you really want to spend for what kind of quality. There is no doubt that cheap LCD big screens are available everywhere – no name brands with mixed quality. I wanted to get the highest quality possible at the best bang for the buck.

 

Panasonic Viera ST60-55” 3D Plasma Display




ST60_zps601888ee.jpg


In the distant past, I have stayed away from Plasma – early plasmas were known for their deep, fantastic blacks.. but also issues with burn in, ghosting, and concerns about durability. But over the last few years, several have really refined the process of making a great plasma, and the things that made them most attractive in the past continues – Plasma still delivers, at least to me, the most beautiful picture on the market and closest to real film with in a set.

So when we started looking, I was immediately drawn to the Panasonic ST60. The ST60, Panasonic’s middle Plasma display with 3D technology doesn’t have all of the high end functions of its VT brother, but it delivers almost everything that I was after – a great display with full 3D performance, SmartTV functions with inbuilt WiFi and LAN support, DLNA compatibility and that rich quality picture.

2D Image Quality

The ST60’s 2D Picture quality is, frankly, exceptional. On almost every set I have ever owned, I go through full calibration using a combination of video essentials, and since I’m setup with Windows MCE in all rooms, I use a color calibration readout device (Spyder) as well as VE / etc. to get the results I want out of all my displays. It is rare that a display manages to get so much right out of the box. I tend to favor my color scheme a slight bit brighter than reference, and the Panasonic was able to deliver my desired output while maintaining an excellent picture quality with minimal effort. Even straight out of the box, color settings provided a decent to solid look that will satisfy most users.

But the real comparison for a monitor is how it looks in comparison to its competition. In my case, the Panasonic was replacing a Samsung LNT4665F 46", certainly no slouch on its own. Put side by side, the difference was like night and day; the Panasonic provided deep, dark blacks and fantastic viewing angles. What was most impressive about the Panasonic to me, though, was how it maintained such a great level of detail with fast movement. This is important because at the “low” smoothing option I was able to eliminate most signs of judder with minimal soap opera effect; this is a nice solution for those who like the smooth feel of a great HDTV but who dislike the feeling that some overly harsh smoothers have.

Plasmas traditionally are not as bright as an LCD, but the Panasonic had no problem holding my brightness settings and looking quite good doing it. Using my candle meter guide, the Panasonic on my default settings held about 178 cd/m^2 in my test setting on my set test image following the guide from my projector for test content. This isn’t as bright as my Samsung (244), but I found it more than satisfactory.

What will be a factor for some is the glossy screen, which when combined with the level of output may mean that the best way to view this set is in a slightly dimmed room.. which made it perfect for our bedroom.

3D Performance

One of the perks about the Panasonic ST60 is that they include in the box 2 pair of 3D Glasses. While these aren’t the higher end rechargeable that Panasonic sells on their website – they are powered by a non-rechargeable watch battery – I found them effective enough.

The Panasonic is the first 3D set that I’ve owned, having just finished installing and connecting the JVC 3D Projector and enjoying it a good deal, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a set, whether or not it would be able to match what I considered the stunning images from the JVC.

The Panasonic didn’t let me down. The 3D performance on it is capable and effective and with a little tweaks, available in their menus I found it to be very satisfactory. No, the Panasonic doesn’t deliver the “holy cow” effect I get from the JVC, but it’s very hard to compare the two; what it does deliver is a very pristine, beautiful 3D image that has fantastic color presentation. When we began looking at 3D displays, this was one of the complaints I had even in LED sets that cost a good deal more – that the color quality and effect really suffered in 3D modes.

The Panasonic though really keeps a high level of color quality and it’s fantastic presentation of black level really helps make 3D look great. Over the last week, I’ve broken out several 3D films to give it a comparison: Avatar, Life of Pi, Harry Potter 7A/B, To the Artic, Wreck it Ralph.. and I found it an enjoyable watch.

The 3D effect did need some work to get it as I wanted, I found that chosing 3D+1 in the 3D setup really accomplished the results that I wanted and felt most comfortable with.
 

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Since Panasonic is full HD-3D Compatible, one of the benefits is that you can use any HD-3D ready glasses with it; another pair of the Panasonics will run you about $70-$80 at our local stores, but reading forums, I discovered that it should work with any glasses.. so I used a pair of cheaply found Samsung SSG-4100GB, available for $23 locally.. and the effect stays true. So, if you need more than 2 pair but don’t want to pay a lot of money to get extra glasses, there are options out there for you.

Smart TV Functionality

I had absolutely no difficulty getting the Panasonic connected to my wired network, which it found immediately. In order to test both ways, I was also able to connect to my Wireless WPA2 network with no major issues.

The Panasonic includes many basic apps – Netflix, Social Media, a Clock, Accuweather, a Calendar.. the biggest issue I have with most of this is that while I understand the “SmartTV” format, most of the included apps are hit and miss. Netflix, Vudu and other video streaming are quite good; however, the DLNA client and its halting performance will definitely not distract you from a real streaming media device.
 

WP_20130512_007_zps32e0a6f3.jpg

More perplexing is that Panasonic puts advertisements at the top of the SmartTV interface.. which is a baffling choice, I’m not sure who would be lured in by one of these static banners.
 

WP_20130512_005_zps44ab0537.jpg


While the Panasonic provides two USB ports and an inbuilt Skype interface, don’t plan on hooking up any webcam. In just a lark of an attempt, the Panasonic failed to recognize or use my Microsoft Lifecam or Logitech camera, leaving me to believe the only option if you want this functionality is the $120 Panasonic camera which they list as “out of stock”.

Remote Control
 

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The remote control for the Panasonic isn’t really a cheap remote, but has the feel of being a mid-level device control. There are no backlit buttons, the feel is a bit bulky and plastic but the layout and usability are quite good. I have no real complaints about the remote control – which is a single device remote, you cannot add or program in other devices.


Sound

The ST60 provides 2 5W L/R speakers with an inbuilt 10W “sub”. Also provided are an optical out, making placement of a soundbar easy. I had connected the ST60 to a soundbar in our bedroom, but for this review, I gave the inbuilt speakers a try. The inbuilt speakers are functional, though not spectacular. I found the inbuilt speakers a bit of a let down in comparison to my Samsung, but they still gave a decent feel for those who will be using this device on its own in their bedrooms.

Power Usage

I will admit, one of the things I wanted to keep track of was how much power the Plasma would use. One of the complaints about Plasma is how much power these devices use in comparison to their LED counterparts. Using my Kill-O-Watt wall meter, I gave the Panasonic a test run to see what you might be looking at in your day to day use. In Standby mode, the Panasonic goes true off; it rarely fluctuated over 0.0W on my meter, which means it’s too low to be read. That’s a good sign for those who want to combat power vampires.

In use, however, the Plasma does show that it uses quite a bit more power than your standard LED.. the Panasonic pulled between 301-344W on an average for me, which is quite a bit higher than similar LEDs. Depending on how much you use it, that may be a factor for you.

Pros:

Excellent Picture Quality and Color
Solid 3D Performance
Great value/price for a 3D set of this quality
3D Glasses are a nice bundled item
Smart Features do provide you complete access to common items in many settings (Vudu/Netflix/Skype/Facebook/Twitter)

Cons:

Uses more power than a newer LED
Front bright Red LED can be distracting during 3D Presentations***
Has a bit more weight (~65lbs without the stand) than it’s LED cousins… so you will need a friend to help you put up and a better mount.
Some SmartTV functions aren’t that Smart.

Final Thoughts:

Before I get to my final thoughts, I want to add a small note to my review, specifically a complaint and a solution. Panasonic has sent out this set with two functions that I would recommend disable. One can be done through the menus (CATS, a Contrast Auto Adjust System) and the second is a bright red LED that tells you the unit is powered on. I am baffled by the inclusion of an LED that tells you the unit is “ON”, you can obviously tell it is “ON”. The reason why this is concerning to me is that the bright red LED can seem as though it “flickers” during 3D presentations making it even more distracting. While you can disable CATS in the menus, disabling the LED isn’t a solution I’ve found in the setup and features.. but if you are someone like me who doesn’t need a bright red LED on the device we’re watching then buy this set with a small roll of electrical tape in your hand at check out. That small expense can significantly improve your viewing experience.

With that said, I have to say that the Panasonic ST60-55” is one of the finest sets I’ve seen, and easily a fantastic bang for the buck. When we looked and evaluated options, I sat and watched LED screens with an almost 50% price hike over the ST60 that didn’t deliver the strong blacks and deep rich color that the ST60 does. If you are one of those people like me who avoided Plasmas based on early history, then I would tell you now is definitely the time to take a second look.

I cannot recommend the ST60 enough for the value.

Stats from Panasonic are available here: http://shop.panasoni...P55ST60?t=specs

 

Reviewed By: MattCR

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#2 of 24 OFFLINE   sidburyjr

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Posted May 13 2013 - 09:10 AM

Nice review. 

i'm having the 60" model delivered Wednesday sometime but it's for my living room not the bedroom.  I'll follow up with my own comments sometime after that. 

I'm disappointed to see that you cannot program other functions into this remote. I run a PS3, Dish box, pioneer S-1222 av receiver and my wife wants a simple way to do what she wants which is mostly watch TV.  I hope our Harmony 300 can work for her.



#3 of 24 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted May 13 2013 - 10:06 AM

In this day and age, it is expected that you either...

 

1. Bought an aftermarket remote

2. Bought a "sumo class" AVR that comes with a decent multi-device remote.

 

My last three displays(all plasma, two Panny and one LG) all have a "joke" remote. The two Panny remotes are still in the shrink wrap. The LG I had to remove to program a BA TVee25. Once that was done, I took the batteries back out and "filed the remote".

 

So, it isn't just Panny. Crap remote is the mainstay with everybody(outside of keyboard remotes...for the manufacturers that include them).


Edited by schan1269, May 13 2013 - 10:08 AM.


#4 of 24 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted May 13 2013 - 10:50 AM

In this day and age, it is expected that you either...

 

1. Bought an aftermarket remote

2. Bought a "sumo class" AVR that comes with a decent multi-device remote.

 

My last three displays(all plasma, two Panny and one LG) all have a "joke" remote. The two Panny remotes are still in the shrink wrap. The LG I had to remove to program a BA TVee25. Once that was done, I took the batteries back out and "filed the remote".

 

So, it isn't just Panny. Crap remote is the mainstay with everybody(outside of keyboard remotes...for the manufacturers that include them).

 

I think this is going to be the standard.   I should note, because I have a multi-manual, this review is actually TC- not TX-, just an error in how many manuals come with it, and I didn't realize it until too late.  

 

Anyway, the remote is somewhat of a joke, but it does have direct access to features that I did want (like 3D controls) which I was able to map into my Harmony.   I think the assumption as was pointed out is that everyone puts everyhing onto a master remote anymore.


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#5 of 24 OFFLINE   sidburyjr

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Posted May 16 2013 - 06:35 AM

Best Buy delivered mine yesterday.  I'm impressed (not counting the sound) but I play TV through my stereo anyway.

 

Previously  I had a Sony KP61-HS10 (so it was time for an upgrade) and everything was connected via component video. I plugged the 10 foot $10 HDMI cable from Amazon into my Dish network box and the BestBuy guy plugged the other end into HDMI1  and it just worked.  After they left, I moved the Dish end to the HDMI out on my Pioneer SC-1222 receiver and connected my Dish box via a separate HDMI cable to the receiver.  I did the same with my PS3.

I didn't have do to any reprogramming of the receiver to make the satellite signal work.  I had to google the method of changing the PS3 from component to HDMI when you can't use component to see the screen.  [put the PS3 in standby mode and hold down the power switch until the unit beeps twice.] Then it was ready to use.

 

Network configuration was a problem because it insisted on telling me that I had no connected ethernet cable.  After some exploring I found the network configuration setup menu and it found my wireless and I connected it with no problem (except for typing my WPA2 key using the arrows).  I found an app for my iPhone (and my iPad) that could have alleviated my problem if I had gone that way earlier. Google play claims an android app for those of you who have not seen the power of the dark side.

 

I have lots of work to do with trying to make the apps work the way I want them as well as the home screen just coming up as a TV instead of as a command center for the universe. I also probably have to tweak the programming our Harmony 300 which took almost no time to get the basics with correctly.

 

How does it look? Well, I hate to use cliched language but AWESOME.  I switched from normal to home theater as my default for all the inputs.  I looked at about half an hour of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in 3D and was very pleased.  I looked at some of Alien and then decided to mostly look at "Full frame" stuff for the first couple of days.  I watched all of Jurassic Park blu-ray (and when I went to bed, I put the DVD of Jurassic park on a repeat cycle and ran it all night.  I watched part of some pro basketball last night and my wife and I watched Psych (our only common Wednesday night show that's still on.)  I looked at some of a recorded episode of Warehouse 13 on a USB stick through the USB input on the TV (which of course required me to use the TV sound).  I have a spare set of Digital Boston Acoustics computer speakers that I may attach to the system in hopes of improving the sound.

 

It was purchased at best buy for 1499.99 plus PA tax (6%).  Included delivery, haul off of old TV, unboxing and minimal setup.  Since we are moving in a few months, the left the box and it looks usable for packing the TV for moving.  I used a BB reward Zone credit card and chose the 5% ($75) reward zone credits instead of 18 months interest free financing.  BB was the only local dealer to have it in stock.  If I had ordered it the day before, they would have price matched Sears -- whose price was also 1500 but using my sears card I would have gotten a 5% discount off the purchase price.  Unfortunately, Sears raised their price the next day to full retail (1700).

 

I'll probably come back and ramble some more later today or tomorrow, but overall, it's the best TV I've ever SEEN. However, none of my friends have plasma and brick and mortar stores do not do any TVs justice.



#6 of 24 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted May 16 2013 - 08:11 AM

For your USB stick(and this probably won't be in the manual either way as to whether the audio can even "leave the TV")...

 

Try connecting the optical output to your stereo(whatever it is...). There is no reason to connect a computer speaker...when you are already have the stereo.



#7 of 24 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted May 16 2013 - 12:39 PM

Yep, you can use the Optical Out of the set..

 

I wil say, the more I use it, the happier I am with this purchase.   Bang for the buck, I haven't seen much else comparable on the market the performance is fantastic.

 

That said, the DLNA client in it basically sucks.  :)   But that's a non-issue for me since I have it on Media Center.


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#8 of 24 OFFLINE   sidburyjr

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Posted May 22 2013 - 04:23 AM

For your USB stick(and this probably won't be in the manual either way as to whether the audio can even "leave the TV")...

 

Try connecting the optical output to your stereo(whatever it is...). There is no reason to connect a computer speaker...when you are already have the stereo.

 

I just changed the HDMI from 1 to 2 on the TV.  The HDMI 2 is ARC which then routes the sound back to my Pioneer SC-1222-K and everything works -- except my Apple TV (version 1).  When I plug it into the TV it works fine but when I plug it into the receiver it doesn't work at all.  Neither does my Wii through the receiver.  Oh well, that will give me time to play around and try to figure out how things work.



#9 of 24 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted May 22 2013 - 01:33 PM

I ran into this for a bit on a device, and had to make sure my receiver was set to HDMI-Passthrough video for them.


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#10 of 24 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted May 22 2013 - 01:47 PM

In some AVR you actually have to "set" the HDMI upconversion...the first time.

 

Basically, once you connect the "non-HDMI" devices, you also have to go check how you want the scaling done. IF you haven't set the scaling, yet, you may need to. Assuming of course, you've actually done the set-up correctly on the AVR inputs to begin with.



#11 of 24 OFFLINE   Matthew Anderson

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Posted June 12 2013 - 09:51 PM

Thanks for the review Matt. I am leaning towards the ST60 as my first plasma tv. I currently have a Sony LED which looks very good but I am ready for a change. I was concerned about the 3D performance after reading some other professional reviews on the web, but I feel a little bit more confident after reading your review. Thanks again.



#12 of 24 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted June 14 2013 - 04:33 PM

Thanks for the review Matt. I am leaning towards the ST60 as my first plasma tv. I currently have a Sony LED which looks very good but I am ready for a change. I was concerned about the 3D performance after reading some other professional reviews on the web, but I feel a little bit more confident after reading your review. Thanks again.

 

The 3D effect, out of the box, is not as solid as some LEDs I looked at; but the color quality during 3D was very good, and that mattered a lot to me.  Also, it's advanced 3D options allow you to change the level of effect.  Play with it for a bit, you will likely get what you want.


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#13 of 24 OFFLINE   Matthew Anderson

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Posted July 04 2013 - 08:44 PM

The 3D effect, out of the box, is not as solid as some LEDs I looked at; but the color quality during 3D was very good, and that mattered a lot to me.  Also, it's advanced 3D options allow you to change the level of effect.  Play with it for a bit, you will likely get what you want.

Thanks Matt. I ordered my 65" ST60 today and this will be my first plasma and first 3D tv. Thanks for the additional input.



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Posted July 31 2013 - 12:06 AM

I bought this TV and it does look fantastic. Ie had it about 4 months now. First HDMI 1 port died on me. Sound but no picture. Then HDMI 2 died!

Going to have to take it back to be replaced.

:(

#15 of 24 OFFLINE   jgenshlea

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Posted December 29 2013 - 11:17 AM

Hello

 

I realize I'm a little late to this post, but hopefully somebody is monitoring.

 

So I just purchased the TC-P60ST60 and have a couple questions:

 

1) There is an unusual affect when the camera eye pans around...the picture gets remarkably clear.   I did some googling, and I suspect that this is the "Soap opera effect" that I've read about.  Some writers suggest that there is an "Image smoothing" setting in this model, but for the life of me, I can not locate this setting.

 

2) I have AppleTV, TiVo Roamio, and a Blu-Ray disc player hooked into the thre HDMI ports.  From there I run a single optical spdif digital cable to my Marantz SR6300 receiver.   The Dobly Digital 5.1 encoding appears to be lost translation.   Again, I've researched this an this appears to be typical.  Is there a setting somewhere that can be changed to enable DD encoding to be passed through the digital out port?

 

3) I am experimenting with a WiFi -based remote control called "Roomie" for IOs 7.   Apparently though the video inputs can not be directly changed through WiFI on this model.  They have to move sequentially through the video inputs.  Does anyone have experience with WiFI operation of this TV?

 

Thanks so much

 

Joe



#16 of 24 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 29 2013 - 11:45 AM

1. What picture mode are you using(hopefully anything "not Vivid")

2. No

3. Can't help on that one cause I use the Viera Android app.

 

But your sources should be connected directly to the AVR. However a toslink matrix would solve separate input switching...

http://www.amazon.co...=toslink matrix

 

And there are HDMI switches that remove audio over Toslink, but you have to read the fine print to find the ones that can "ignore the TV default to PCM".



#17 of 24 OFFLINE   jgenshlea

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Posted December 29 2013 - 12:15 PM

Thank you for your quick response.

 

1. Home Theater mode, it looks like just color settings change.  Little brighter and perhaps more contrast (?) - do you think this causes SOE?   Could this be ghosting and not SOE?  THis is my first "Real" tv, I understand that plasmas have a ghosting issue.

 

2. Thanks, I thought so.  Just bought some additional SPDIFs. Unfortunately, my AVR has 2 opticals and 3 coaxials and most of my equipment appears to be optical, except for the Blu-ray which is coaxial (spdif)

 

3.  I am just experiementing (for the wife).  Nice thing about Roomie is that appears to do a better job with macros (like press "watch tv" sets all the components to the proper setting...didn't notice that feature on the VIera iPad app. 



#18 of 24 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 29 2013 - 12:24 PM

Are you refering to image lag?

 

How new is the TV? If fresh from the box...it will have image lag for the first 200 hours-ish.



#19 of 24 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted December 29 2013 - 12:27 PM

You could get some of these...

http://www.amazon.co...axial converter

 

If you get any of those, they only work one direction...and are available both ways.



#20 of 24 OFFLINE   jgenshlea

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Posted December 29 2013 - 12:51 PM

Yes, brand-spanking new. 

 

probably right at 100 hours of use.

 

I don't know what the affect is called since I have no point of reference.   The best I can explain it is this:

 

Have you ever seen a movie made for 16:9 format edited for 4:3, where there are two people at a wide table, and it looks like the editors used some computer trick to "artifically" pan from left-to-right during a conversation instead of just showing two noses?   That is what it looks like on my tv.







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