on June 19, 2013
The Panasonic P55VT60 is without a doubt the best 55 inch television one can purchase. Very low minimum light level means deep blacks and great contrast. Colors pop without being unnatural, and motion handling is the best I've ever seen on a TV. If you're in the market for a 60 or 65 inch TV, the ZT60 is slightly better with bright room viewing, at around 500 dollars more.
As a gamer, this is a fantastic TV since Panasonic has really upped their game regarding image retention from last year's sets. Leaving a static head's up display, score counter, or life bar for a few hours will leave mild image retention at the worst, and will be gone within a few minutes of pixel sweeper/mixed content. Input lag also measures between 38-42 ms which means that all but the hardest of the hardcore, pro-level twitch gamers will not notice lag, but they aren't going to consider large screens anyway. I play a lot of twitch games and can't notice or feel any sluggish response.
All types of signals look the best they possibly can on the VT60. Standard def never looks good on a 55 inch HDTV, but it's passable on the VT60. 720p signals look absolutely stunning, which is a step up from last years 50 series in which anything other than a 1080 signal was soft and had an "oil painting" effect to it. That's not the case with the 60's. Blu-rays and 1080p TV shows and games are absolutely jaw dropping. You cannot get a picture quality this good on any other TV currently on the market, and this TV even matches or beats (VERY SLIGHTLY) the Pioneer Kuro.
So why the 4 star review?
This is the best TV I've ever seen, but it's not perfect and I can't in good conscience give it a perfect, 5 star review. Here are the cons.
-I previously purchased one of these from another retailer and immediately after receiving it, I noticed a dark line running down the right side of the screen. After aging the panel for a couple hundred hours, the line got progressively worse. I called up the retailer and set up an exchange. When the new set came, the problem still existed but even worse. I'm not sure if this was an issue with Panasonic, the retailer, the shipping company, etc., but I ended up getting a refund, purchasing ANOTHER one through Amazon and having ZERO issues with my current set. Which brings me to the next con:
-I had contacted Panasonic customer service about the issue I was having and in so many words, they said there was no problem with the TV and that any of the manufacturing defects I was describing were within spec. This is not okay, considering the price of the TV. Nothing is perfect, but a dark, half inch wide line running down the set is simply unacceptable for a reference level TV. I've dealt with Panasonic before regarding other products and they are ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to deal with. Probably the worst customer service of any electronics manufacturer. Strange considering they make such great products, you would think they could spend just a little money to ensure that the people they hire to deal with technical issues can converse with customers and figure things out. Instead the customer service reps try their absolute hardest to ignore you. Such a weird concept to me. Buy a 3rd party warranty or hope nothing goes wrong, because you do not want to have to deal with these people over the phone or via e-mail.
-The price of the TV is very high compared to the almost-as-good-but-not-quite ST60. The 55ST60 runs for about 1000 dollars less, which is insane. The ST60 has very high input lag however, so it's a no-go for all but the most casual of gamers. If you do not need a reference level set and do not play games, go for the ST60 instead. It's a much better value and has amazing picture quality. If you're not entirely sure what "reference level" means, you likely wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the ST60 and the VT60 unless they were side by side. The VT60 is really a TV for videophiles and industry professionals. I hope this doesn't sound snotty, as I'm honestly trying to save you 1000 dollars! =)
-The bezel and overall design of the TV is very bizarre to me. It's got a great (non-swivel) stand, and the bottom part of the design is beautiful with a clear plastic trim that holds the on/off LEDS. The one sheet of glass design is very sexy too. What's odd is the built in speakers, which hurt the cosmetic appeal of the set greatly and add thickness to what could be a slim profile design. Most people who are looking to buy a VT60 are not going to be using the built in speakers to begin with, which is why I question Panasonic's decision with this. If this were a feature of the value models (the S60 and the ST60), it would definitely make sense, but it doesn't make sense on the reference level set. Yes, this is a nitpick.
This is it for my review. Overall, for videophiles and industry pros (I use this for post production color correction), you cannot get a better 55 inch TV at the moment. Accurate colors, the deepest blacks ever, and superb motion handling make this an amazing purchase. Please take my criticisms with a grain of salt as I am one of the most critical people ever when it comes to technology. Though I find faults with this TV (and every other TV I've ever owned), it's still the most amazing picture I've seen on a consumer set and blows me away every time I turn it on.