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What with Panasonic's 2013 plasma peacock parade, an LED really has to shake its tail-feathers to get noticed around here. And that's exactly what the DT60 series tries to do, with stunning colors, smooth motion, and excellent smart features. This is an expensive TV, but a solid choice for anyone who wants a beautiful picture and the extra bows and frills.
But price is nothing to zip past, nilly willy. I would have to mortgage my cat and sell my car to afford the 60-inch model we tested, which carries an MSRP of $2799.99. Still, if you can afford it, this TV delivers a great picture, a modern look, and the snazzy extras we've come to expect from high-end HDTVs.
The DT60 is a serious looker. The dashing design's chrome bezel zips around the screen, leaving a modern, expensive impression. A solid metal base supports the TV from below, with a gleaming V-shaped arm. If you're into thin, glitzy design, this is the TV for you. But don't let that dainty panel fool you—this thing is heavy. LEDs are typically known for their lightness, but this one weighs a whopping 92.6 lbs!
Layout and connectivity are both spot-on, for the most part. Sure, we've seen more connections on a TV, and we wish the component/composite hookups weren't downward facing, but there's not much else to gripe about. Behind the sparkling edifice, this TV hosts an ample array of hookkups: On the left side, facing out, are three HDMI, three USB, a digital audio out, and an SD Card reader, and on the back left side are shared composite/component ports, an ethernet hookup, and an antenna in.
Two remotes ship with the DT60 series, and they sport silver ensembles to match the rest of the TV. The first remote is backlit and offers a dedicated Netflix button, but is otherwise entirely traditional. The second remote is a horse of a different color; this pint-sized remote uses a thumb-controlled trackpad on top, and an index finger-controlled trigger button below, so that users can enjoy mouse-like functionality to zip around their TV screens. There is even a voice button so that with a click, users can say "home" to get to the main hub, instead of clicking their way over. Sadly, we did not find any trace of a full QWERTY keypad on either remote.
When it comes to smart TV, LG (with help from Google) and Samsung really are at the top of the food chain, yet with key features like voice control and facial recognition, Panasonic managed to keep up with the Joneses this year... mostly. The DT60 series features VieraConnect, which combines browsing, content streaming, and other apps to diversify the TV-watching experience. Panasonic allows users the special ability to personalize a homescreen, too, so that each member of a family can enjoy an individual experience. By clicking "home" on the remote, or else by just saying it, the TV presents all of your favorite apps—Hulu Plus, Facebook, weather, games—alongside a picture-in-picture window, which continues to play live TV or discs.
The main shortcoming of this platform isn't its functionality or its content. The trackpad on the miniature remote, in conjunction with the trigger, work very well, and the voice control is quite accurate. The main problem is that this TV has no IR Blaster. What is an IR Blaster? It's a device that talks to your cable box for you, so that you no longer need your cable box remote, for example. On LG's Google TV, users can say, "Jennifer Lopez movies," and any JLo movie—whether it's on live TV, Netflix, Google Play, etc—will appear, all with just one search. The fact that Panasonic doesn't offer this feature is a huge negative. And functionality is great, but it's not perfect; the trackpad remote is a nifty way to dart around a screen, but I would not use that word to describe typing with it. I would use an altogether different word.
Lastly,this is a 3D-capable TV. The DT60 uses passive 3D technology, which is to say the glasses are polarized, showing the left eye one picture, and the right eye another picture, and tricking your brain in the process. Users will love that this series ships with four sets of battery-free glasses, and the 3D actually looks amazing most of the time. But there were instances of crosstalk—which is when one eye sees something it isn't supposed to, creating a muddled image and a headache—and the glasses are uncomfortable. Many edges are angular when they ought to be more rounded and smooth, especially the uncomfortably sharp nose bridge.
Sometimes the showboat TVs—the ones with supermodel-thin profiles and winking chrome—are only about surface beauty. This glitzy rectangle raised a few eyebrows around the office, but once testing got underway, doubts about this TV began to clear. The color performance of this TV is fantastic; these are accurate, vibrant, detailed colors. In a breath, there just weren't any major problems in this department.
Contrast ratio proved less exciting, true. Then again, we did just spend the last week gazing stupified into the sheer infinite blackness of the almighty VT60... But why does contrast ratio even matter? Because it indicates how effectively a TV can produce the contours of an object, and therefore how realistic and convincing its picture can be. The DT60 didn't totally drop the ball here; most TV-watchers will be more than satisfied with this picture. But if you're a picture enthusiast in search of deep, dramatic blacks, this is not the purchase for you. The DT60 just doesn't grope deep enough into the dark end of the greyscale to produce truly top-tier images—a quality that accompanies most LEDs.
The rest of performance was rock solid, though. Motion was very smooth throughout testing, with very little blurring or choppy motion, and viewing angle is surprisingly generous for an LED. That means sports will look great even from various angles, so call up some pals.
The DT60 series is packed full of features, and its picture is great. The fanatical picture purist will want to keep shopping; as with most LEDs, these TVs just can't dip far enough into the dark end of the greyscale to bring you the haunting blacks you want. But if you just want a stylish, beautifully designed TV that also offers amazing color, ample connectivity, smooth motion, and a fancy feature or two, the DT60 series will satisfy your needs.
Our one warning would be this: If you're searching for the best smart features money can buy, this is definitely not the choice for you. Find something with an IR Blaster so that you can search for content across several providers in one fell swoop. Panasonic's VieraConnect can't do that, so it's third-rate at best. But if smart features are just one aspect of what you're looking for, money is no object, and your top priority is a stylish display, this DT60 is a solid choice.
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