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Panasonic Viera TC-P60ST50

*Est. $1,600
Reviewed
October 2012
by ConsumerSearch
Panasonic Viera TC-P60ST50

Pros
  • Great picture quality
  • Good performance in well-lit rooms
  • Good features
Cons
  • Some sets produce slightly deeper black levels
  • 3D prone to ghosting
  • Internet features slow to load and a touch laggy

Bottom Line

If price is no object, you can spend more and get a slightly better performing TV. But if you want image quality that's close enough to the very best that few will notice any difference and save quite a few dollars in the bargain, it's tough to find a plasma TV that matches what the Panasonic Viera ST50 offers. Some features-related bobbles temper expert and owner enthusiasm, but only a little.

The Viera ST50 is available in four screen sizes: The 50-inch TC-P50ST50 (*Est. $1,100 to $2,300), the 55-inch TC-P55ST50 (*Est. $1,300), the 60-inch TC-P60ST50 (*Est. $1,600) and the 65-inch TC-P65ST50 (*Est. $2,300). All should perform similarly.

Performance

Nearly the best money can buy -- at any price. In absolute terms, sets with better 2D picture quality can be found -- like the 55-inch Viera TC-P55VT50 (*Est. $2,500 to $3,700), which is part of Panasonic's flagship VT50 series -- but you'll need to dig deep for what most experts say is only incremental improvement. All but the most picture-obsessed consumer will be deeply impressed by what they see on the ST50's screen. Colors are accurate, blacks are excellent, and the TV does a good job of teasing out the details in dark scenes. Whites are dimmer than on LED sets, but that's characteristic of all plasma TVs.

With most plasma sets, performance under bright lights can be an issue. However, several experts report that thanks to Panasonic's Infinite Black Filter technology, the ST50's blacks hold up better in well-lit rooms, and glare from light sources is less problematic than on competing and previous sets. "The ST50 handled overhead lighting better than any plasma I've ever tested," says CNET's David Katzmaier. Both screen uniformity and off-angle viewing are excellent.

Opinions on the ST50's 3D performance are mixed, ranging from pretty happy at Home Theater magazine to rather displeased at TelevisionInfo.com. Ghosting is cited by many, although most add that it's not much worse than what's seen on other active-shutter 3D sets. Other critics also see problems with 3D image color and brightness. CNET notes that 3D performance in regard to ghosting can be greatly improved by changing a setting.

Power consumption -- like most plasma TVs -- isn't terrific. Only the 50-inch TC-P50ST50 is Energy Star qualified.

Panasonic has made much of its 8-Train speaker technology, which uses two arrays of eight tiny speakers each in lieu of traditional speakers. Among reviewers who address the set's audio at all, reaction is fairly muted. PlasmaTVBuyingGuide.com calls the ST50's sound quality disappointing, adding that effects seem "hollow." TelevisionInfo.com has a different take, saying that the overall quality is "great" and the surround mode is effective, but that "power is lacking." These and other opinions suggest that while the built-in sound is very good for everyday viewing, it's no substitute for a good home theater system or higher-performing sound bar.

Features

What you'd expect in a top TV. While you won't get some of the extras that can be found in some flagship sets, like the Smart Interaction in Samsung's E8000 series, the lineup of features on the ST50 is solid. Be aware, however, that if you care at all about 3D, you'll have to spend extra for any glasses because none are included. Panasonic's will set you back about $50 per pair, but the company subscribes to a standard that lets you use glasses made by others, and some less expensive options start at about $20 each.

Internet features are useful and usable. CNET likes the simple layout and ease of use of the ST50's Internet interface, noting that it's unchanged from last year. Most of the major and many minor Internet providers are present and accounted for. However, some reviewers like TelevisionInfo.com grumble that the Interface is slow to load and it's a little laggy.

Design

Not completely plain. As Jack Burden at PlasmaTVBuyingGuide.com says, "it's not going to knock you out with fantastic looks, but it's not bad, either." A clear plastic edge to the cabinet's basic black does impart a bit of upscaling. The remote is well designed, but CNET says its glossy face is a fingerprint magnet. Connectivity is good, but the set has only three HDMI inputs. One nice extra is the inclusion of an SD memory card slot; Panasonic is one of the few plasma TV makers to offer that feature.

Value

Lots of bang for not that many bucks. The Panasonic Viera ST50 definitely isn't the cheapest plasma TV available, but it is the least expensive one to deliver this good of a picture, especially in all lighting conditions. You'd need to spend more to find performance that's even just a hair better. The extras -- if that's what you'd call 3D and Internet streaming -- don't get as much love, but most reviewers say they're of minimal concern when you can get this level of picture quality for such a low price.

Where To Buy
Universal Remote Replacement Control Fit For Panasonic TC-P55VT30 TC-P60ST50-2 Smart 3D VIERA Plasma LCD LED HDTV TV

 
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Our Sources

1. CNET

Review credibility: Excellent
The Panasonic TC-P55ST50 is CNET's Editors' Choice among HDTVs for 2012. Virtues are many, including picture quality that falls only a little short of the best flagship-grade -- and higher-priced -- plasma TVs. Since the ST50 costs quite a bit less, it's said to set the "value standard among videophile-grade TVs."

Review: Panasonic TC-P55ST50 Review, David Katzmaier, June 5, 2012

2. TelevisionInfo.com

Review credibility: Excellent
The testers at TelevisionInfo.com break from the pack by giving the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55ST50 a middling grade and mediocre review. Picture quality isn't the issue; the set tests out very well in most respects. However, Sherden says performance of the key extras -- 3D and Internet streaming -- is a letdown.

Review: Panasonic TC-P55ST50, Christian Sherden, April 19, 2012

3. PCMag.com

Review credibility: Excellent
Although it isn't as long as the reviews at CNET and TelevisionInfo.com, this report is just as competent and credible. Delaney addresses some issues, and the fact that 3D glasses aren't included is a disappointment. Still, great colors and deep blacks result in an overall "excellent" rating for the Panasonic TC-P55ST50.

Review: Panasonic TC-P55ST50, John R. Delaney, May 17, 2012

4. ConsumerReports.org

Review credibility: Excellent
Reports here are a little short on discussion and less technically detailed than those by the sources above. But ConsumerReports.org still tests lots of TVs, and ratings and rankings make it easy to see how each compares to its competitors. Two sets in the Panasonic ST50 series are evaluated: the 60-inch TC-P60ST50 and the 55-inch TC-P55ST50.

Review: LCD & Plasma TVs Ratings & Reliability, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated

5. Home Theater Magazine

Review credibility: Excellent
Home Theater magazine doesn't test as many plasma TVs as some other reviewers, but the reports it produces are both helpful and expertly done. Picture quality and value earn the Panasonic TC-P55ST50 a Top Picks award.

Review: Panasonic TC-P55ST50 Plasma 3D HDTV, Thomas J. Norton, June 14, 2012

6. Sound & Vision Magazine

Review credibility: Excellent
Sound+Vision isn't prolific when it comes to reviewing plasma TVs, but it is more than competent. The Panasonic TC-P55ST50 is the subject of one of this magazine's rare reports and earns a Certified & Recommended award. Performance, features and value are all lauded.

Review: Test Report: Panasonic TC-P55ST50 3D Plasma HDTV, Al Griffin, June 5, 2012

7. PlasmaTV Buying Guide.com

Review credibility: Very Good
Reviews here are backed by good testing, but the presentation could use a bit of polish. The Panasonic TC-P55ST50 is the highest rated plasma TV on the site at the time of our visit, and is called "possibly the best buy in a 55-inch TV on the market for 2012."

Review: Panasonic TC-P55ST50 Review, Jack Burden, Not dated

8. HomeTheaterReview.com

Review credibility: Very Good
While HomeTheaterReview.com doesn't always test the products it reviews, this hands-on evaluation is meaty and well done. Like many reviewers, Maxwell finds issues with the 3D performance of the TC-P55ST50, but says its 2D image looks great in most respects.

Review: Panasonic TC-P55ST50 3D Plasma HDTV Reviewed, Adrienne Maxwell, May 21, 2012

9. Amazon.com

Review credibility: Very Good
User reviews for all screen sizes of the Panasonic ST50 can be seen here, and most owners are pleased with their choice. More than 190 weigh in and give the TV 4.3 stars out of 5. Issues cited by a few disgruntled owners vary, although burn-in is mentioned by a couple of them.

Review: Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50 55-Inch 1080p 600Hz Full HD 3D Plasma TV, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012

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