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Customer Review

on August 16, 2013
I got my ZT60 in May, so I guess I am one of the grandfathers. I wanted to get a good TV last year, but VT50 wasn't quite there yet. This year was very exciting for all AV enthusiasts with Samsung F8500, VT60, and ZT60. Samsung was released earlier, and it was quite promising, but I hold up until the release of ZT60 when I could compare them side-by-side. Although VT60 is very close to ZT, it was never on my list; to explain, one critical decision point for me was the air-free panel, and VT has the air gap between the glass and plasma screen which may produce unwanted shadows. Samsung is a very good TV, and let's face it, it's a fantastic TV, but I chose ZT because of a few personal reasons. In my opinion, ZT has better pedestal, it has better black levels and shadow details, and it is THX certified. Some may disagree, but I wanted the closest to the reference picture that I could get, and that was the ZT. Samsung has the advantages of being super sharp, super bright, and having no "Fan Noise" issue.

The only problem I had with my ZTs was the "Fan Noise," and I exchanged my sets a few times. Thankfully, Panasonic has a "Foam Fix" now. Fan Noise is something different than the well-known Plasma buzz, and not too many people will experience this; however, if you are one of the unlucky ones, this will eat you to the bone. Fan noise first identified by the European AV website on the VT series, and they found out if the back panel is removed, there is no noise. So, the noise is not coming from the fans per se, but from the airflow they create in relation to the back panel. The noise is like pulsation and whirling that some people have described as having an old fridge running in the room. It has been reported that Panasonic has a fix now that reduces the noise, and it contains a set of foams that will be installed underneath the fans. A service call to Panasonic will send you a technician to install the foams.

Picture quality of ZT is fantastic. If you have a bright room though, you may also consider F8500, since it can go much brighter than ZT. As a matter of fact, according to the shootout, ZT is the dimmest of all, and even VT has better brightness compared to ZT. However compared to VT, ZT has a superior antireflective filter that should help with ambient lights. I also like the slimmer form factor of ZT without the side speakers.

I came from LCD, so I was a complete stranger to Plasma technology. It seems that Plasma phosphors age exponentially in relation to time, so the first 100 hours is extremely crucial to a steady picture quality. It is advised that you run the slides--like D-Nice's--for at least 100 hours so the red, green, and blue phosphors age evenly. After this period, you should be fine with any contents. I have tested this myself, and it really makes a difference to run the premade slides. You can search for D-Nice's 2013 Panasonic settings, and download the slides. If you are really serious about PQ, you should also consider a professional calibration to get every last bit of the reference picture out of your set. The slides will also help you prepare your panel for the required initial 300 hours for a professional calibration. If you ever need to check the panel hours, you need to go to the service menu, which also can ruin your TV if you are not careful and voids your warranty. However, if you need to access the panel hours anyway:

*** WARNING: use it at your own risk. Changing settings can void the warranty ***
* Press and hold the {VOL -} key on the side of the set, and without releasing, press the {INFO} button on the remote 3 times.
* After a few seconds you are in the service menu.
* Press {2} key on the remote to select "SRV-TOOL," then press {OK} key.
* Go down to "PTCT: 00.00.00.00.00" and move right using remote's cursor keys.
* Press and hold {MUTE} button on the remote for 3 seconds.
* Time and number of power cycles will be shown in red.
* To exit, just hold down the power button on the set (not the remote).

The apps on the TV are pretty basic, but all the important ones are there: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Vimeo, YouTube, and etc. The DLNA Server app can only play x264 files from my NAS, and it doesn't support DivX or Xvid. Web browser app is pretty basic, but it works. I used my Bluetooth keyboard and it connected without any problems. Overall, this TV is nicely packed with apps, and there are a few extra ones that you can download within the TV. One annoying thing for me was the Viera Connect Banner which is a fancy name for unauthorized advertisement on your TV. You can turn it off from: {Menu}->"Setup"->"Display Customization"->"Viera Connect Banner"->"off." Just make sure you are on the full screen home page on a normal HDMI input, since the option does not appear in every apps/inputs.

I've never owned a 3D TV before, so this is my first. I immediately ordered the IMAX: Under the Sea 3D and IMAX: Deep Sea blu-rays to check out the 3D, and it was impressive. Although they are active shutter 3D, the provided glasses are pretty lightweight and comfortable, and they use a non-rechargeable user replaceable battery. You can also get Panasonic TY-ER3D4MU rechargeable 3D glasses, and they are compatible.

If you are looking for the best picture quality, there is always OLED with its current hefty price. However, if you want to get the best reference picture for the money, ZT is the best of all in my opinion. Even right out of the box, the THX settings are good enough to show you what this TV is capable of. Give it some time and age the phosphors evenly, and you will end up with a picture that has the deepest black levels and color depth that make the 2D pictures almost like 3D. I don't know what 2014 will look like, but if you need a TV now, you can be very happy with the ZT.

Compared to VT, ZT has:
* No Camera
* No Side Front Firing Speakers
* Less Brightness
* Better Filter
* Studio Master Panel with No Air Gap

Compared to F8500, ZT has:
* No Camera
* Less Brightness
* Less 3D Resolution
* Less Overall Sharpness
* Fan Noise (before the foam fix)
* Better Black Levels
* Better Shadow Details
* THX Certified
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