Panasonic Viera TC-P60VT60 Plasma TV Revisited
Panasonic's VT60 is sure to sweep the home theater market, and nestle into story, into legend.
Behind the Screens
Bienvenudos, and welcome to the Science page, where we corral all of our hard data and charts, intent on backing up our front page claims. All of our color and contrast data is gathered using the Konica Minolta CS-200 chroma meter and the Konica Minolta LS-100 luma meter, in conjunction with DisplayMate's test patterns and software. The VT60 was calibrated in Cinema mode, supporting the Rec. 709 color gamut.
There's a new sheriff around these parts
Just recently, I wrote an article on contrast ratio—what it is, and why it matters. If you don't know what contrast ratio is, go read that, and come back here. If you do, skip to this: 0.006 cd/m2 black level. Thanks to our recent acquisition of the Konica Minolta LS-100, we were able to get a more accurate (read: darker) black level result from the VT60, and it's boasting the largest contrast ratio we've ever seen: 13,650:1.
At a 20% APL brightness of 81.90 cd/m2, the VT60 doesn't get very bright. It does make up for this dimness with an intensely dark black level, though. This result is almost off the charts, but with Panasonic's history in plasma tech, we're not terribly surprised by it. If you want blacks rivaling the legendary Pioneer Kuro Elite, Panasonic knows how to build 'em. We can't wait to see what the ZT60 can do.
Grab some friends: This viewing angle is huge.
We test horizontal viewing angle to determine the amount of screen-watching flexibility a television accords viewers. Viewing angle is an important part of the TV selection process, in that a narrow viewing angle can mean friends on either end of a long couch are seeing a bad picture. Viewing angle is particularly important when dealing with larger-screened TVs, like those in the VT60 series, as they're more likely to be wall-mounted, which is fairly permanent. Fortunately, the VT60 has no viewing limit when dealing with horizontal placement: Its total viewing angle of 179° (or 89.90° from either side) is the literal maximum possible.
Compared to its peers—in this case, Samsung's flagship, the Panasonic VT50, and the Panasonic ST60—the VT60 sports the largest viewing angle. While plasmas tend to have very good horizontal viewing angles in general, this one is particularly impressive, though we were expecting as much. Like the ST60, however, the VT60's panel—which has been darkened along a vertical matrix—does not do well at extreme vertical viewing angles, so watch it level to avoid false shadowing.
Stupendous color accuracy
The Panasonic VT60 has terrific color accuracy. We test three aspects of a television's color performance: Color gamut, color temperature, and color (greyscale) curves. A color gamut is an illustrative chart that renders a two- or three-dimensional picture of all the colors a device, such as a television, can display. HDTVs are expected to perform to a certain standard, called Rec. 709, that dictates the position (or hue/saturation/brightness) of their peak red, green, blue, and white. Color temperature refers to the actual hot/cold temperature of the light produced, in Kelvins—our test checks that a TV maintains the same temperature across its greyscale, or monochrome intensity input. Finally, color and greyscale curves reveal how well a television transitions to and from neighboring shades and hues, and how evenly it allocates its intensity scale.
The VT60's color gamut was very accurate when compared to the Rec. 709 ideal. Its peak green and peak white were perfectly matched to the ideal, meaning all hues and shades within those gradations will look as intended, promising displayed content is accurately vivid and smooth. Peak red and blue were just slightly oversaturated, meaning there is more "color" in them than there should be, but the amount of oversaturation is entirely minimal—further, they're oversaturated by the same amount, meaning shades of purple throughout will be consistent in their vivacity. Overall, this is a great result.
Likewise, the VT60 tested with excellent color temperature consistency. While we expect the white light produced by a television to be about 6500° K, the VT60 was closer to 6800°, but it maintained its color temperature across the intensity input without visible error. Color temperature shifts result in visibly blue- or orange-tinted whites, greys, and blacks, but only if the shift is more than 200° warmer or cooler than the reference point. The VT60 has no visible color temperature deviation, and very little technical deviation.
Finally, the VT60's color/greyscale curves were even and smooth, for the most part. Interestingly, the VT60's greyscale describes an inverse knee, curving out and adding detail to midtones. Its red, green, and blue curves describe the proper ramp, moving evenly with one another at lower luminosity than the greyscale, a natural occurrence that has to do with the way light penetrates our chroma meter's lens—naturally, blue is slightly less luminous. Other than some uneven bumpiness within red and green, these curves are commendable.
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