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Panasonic Plasma, need I say more?
on April 20, 2013
Panasonic as far as I am concerned is the best producer of television sets in the world right now. Nothing compares to the picture clarity and quality of a Panasonic Plasma TV and this model is no different. I replaced a 42" Plasma from 5 or 6 years ago with this model and a week later I'm not even slightly regretting the choice.
Update: Recently found out Panasonic has discontinued their Plasma models. If you're on the fence, make sure you decide before they are completely gone (I would NEVER recommend buying used Plasmas). Here is a great article from CNET with a summary of some very well spoken words regarding Panasonic and their Plasma line of TVs.
Presuming you do buy a Plasma this year from Panasonic, it should last you until the next generation of OLED TVs become reasonably cost affordable.
Plasma technology has come a long way, you'll find that not only do you get the high refresh rate, deep blacks and crisp picture but you also get a longer lifetime now (~30 years of 8 hours a day viewing before the TV will begin to fade), much lower power consumption (CNET rates this model around $44 a year, Panasonic states $28, so figure it somewhere between $35-40 without using Eco-mode settings) and better picture control than in the past (multiple ratios, you can choose to cool/warm the picture in minute quantities and set different profiles for each input).
Still, if you're sitting here trying to decide between a Plasma and an LED, you need to really only consider a few scenarios.
If it is going to be in a family room that has bright lighting and won't be used for a lot of high action (sports) programming, you're probably better off going with a newer LED model for the screen reflectivity and to avoid the color saturation you get on Plasmas. If you want a Plasma and to avoid any serious glare problems, try stepping up a model to the ST60 or the VT60, each step up will dramatically improve screen glare (and add a crisper picture, which isn't terribly noticeable unless a side by side comparison is performed when in a scarcely lit room). Otherwise in a bedroom or somewhere you don't mind closing the blinds, this is a great buy. Update: Recently read about the P50S64 which has the anti-reflection coating on the S60 model here, try looking online to find your nearest dealer if this interests you.
Trying to decide between the ST60 and the S60? Even I had a difficult time with that. The final decision really only came down to the fact that there isn't a noticeable difference in picture quality in the setting I have my TV and I don't need the Smart TV/3D ability.
This model has Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, Hulu and a few other Apps. All of which are updated applications so the interfaces are more modern, which is nice. The Wi-Fi set up was very easy, so despite not being Wifi certified I wouldn't be concerned, it comes built-in and ready to go.
Another great feature some Techies might find useful is full DLNA support with no complications. All I had to do was connect the network, pull up my DLNA apps on my Surface or Lumia 920 and boom, streaming right to the TV in all of its glory.
Don't be fooled for other knockoff brands like Samsungs which just copy market innovators or LG/Sharp whom don't have the same technology built into their TVs like Panasonic does. The S60 is a great deal for the consumer, bringing affordable HD sets to the masses and backed by a brand that lasts, my TV still works from 6 years ago without ever needing a repair and I know of other people with Panasonics from 10+ years ago that never had problems.
Update: I've seen a lot of people trying to find a magic configuration for their picture quality, but it's unlikely one settings configurations will match someone else's. Your best bet is to setup the TV and begin tweaking the main settings for your common programming. For instance, I watch a ton of hockey and like for the ice to be vivid and cool, I leave on CATS to dynamically adjust brightness from day to night, the human eye is only so precise so I wouldn't recommend obsessing over tweaks you can't actually recognize. Some people claim to see enhanced reds, pro settings can drop that level when you're in Cinema or Custom.