Digital Crave

Panasonic ST60 television receives top marks for quality and price

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Consumers take notice when a respected technology web site gives out their highest score for an HDTV. That’s exactly what happened this week when CNET gave the Panasonic TC-PST60 five stars with this suggestion: “Our first-ever five-star TV is the one you should buy.”

The review is even more surprising when you consider CNET Senior Editor David Katzmaier wrote it. Katzmaier knows his HDTV calibration, having been certified by the ISF (Imaging Science Foundation). He developed CNET’s TV test procedure himself. When he talks about TVs, people listen. This is what he had to say about the Panasonic ST60:

“I’ve written TV reviews for more than 10 years, but I’m pretty sure this one is the most important. I’ll cut to the chase: If you value picture quality and don’t have money to burn, you should buy the Panasonic TC-PST60. Reasonable price; incredibly good picture quality with exceedingly deep black levels, great shadow detail, accurate colors, solid bright-room performance, and superb off-angle and uniformity characteristics; sleek styling with metal accents; plenty of Smart TV content; includes two pair of 3D glasses.”

On the other hand, he was not as impressed by the 55-inch set’s 3D quality or performance in extremely bright rooms. The latter, along with the TV’s greedy power consumption, are common – and minor – complaints when it comes to Plasma televisions. Despite the leaps in innovation, many people still worry about buying a Plasma TV. The dreaded burn-in problem, where an image would permanently stick to the screen, is no longer an issue. The same goes for lifespan. Modern Plasma televisions last just as long as LCD sets. Which is why “The midlevel price and outstanding quality of the Panasonic TC-PST60 series make it our strongest TV recommendation ever.”

There will be new TVs released this year that might best the ST60, but Katzmaier says they will cost much more. Although there are cheaper TVs with great pictures, “I'll be extremely surprised if any 2013 TV surpasses the ST60’s combination of jaw-dropping performance and practical affordability.”

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Like all tech articles, trolls in the comments section quickly picked Katzmaier’s piece apart. Anyone who writes or reads about technology is used to this. Some people wrote that five stars should be given to products that are perfect, as if there was such a thing. (CNET editors consider a five-star review “spectacular”. There is no “perfect” distinction.) Others balked at the description of $1347.99 being a “mid-level” price. In the world of quality HDTV’s – especially with Smart technology, 3D and an amazing picture – the price is considered reasonable.

The ST60 is a 55-inch Plasma Smart HDTV with Active 3D, built-in Wi-Fi, Viera Connect Internet streaming and two 3D glasses. The CNET review was hands-on with the 55-inch model, but applies to the 50-inch, 60-inch and 65-inch models as well. All sizes have identical specs. The set has three HDMI inputs, an analog video input that can handle either composite or component connections, a pair of USB ports and an SD card slot.

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