- Very promising picture quality
- Trim design by plasma standards
- Multimedia support and interface looks strong
- Screen and bezel seem a little over-reflective
Review Price to be confirmed
Panasonic didn’t make much of a song and dance about its GT50 plasma TV range in 2012 – but it went on to be one of the brand’s most popular products. So it comes as no surprise at Panasonic’s 2013 product launch event in Nice, France to find the GT series returning to Panasonic’s 2013 range – even though there are no equivalent models outside of Europe.
Panasonic TX-P50GT60 - Design
The latest GTs, the GT60s, enjoy some considerable advances over last year’s models. For starters, both the 50in and 42in size options look much more stylish, with trimmer bezels, and a striking silver metal outer trim that contrasts dramatically and appealingly with the deep grey colour of the main bezel.
The only issue with this design, perhaps, is that both the glossy grey and metallic silver frame elements caught the lights of the show floor, slightly distracting you from the picture. Of course, though, there won’t be many domestic environments that suffer with the same sort of ambient light contamination that the showrooms of Nice’s Acropolis conference centre do.
Panasonic TX-P50GT60 - Features
The new GT60 models are richly featured considering that they’re essentially mid-range TVs (now that Panasonic has added the new ZT60 high-end models to its plasma range). For starters, they’re the cheapest sets in Panasonic’s 2013 plasma series to be equipped with the new my Home Screen smart TV interface we previewed yesterday, which attempts to streamline the content-finding process by allowing different users in the house to set up their own personal interface screens.
They also carry twin tuners, so you can watch different broadcasts simultaneously – one of them even on a networked tablet or smartphone if you like.
Talking of tablet and smartphone co-operation, here again the GT60s advance over last year’s GT50 models, with much-enhanced communication and control options with second screen devices.
Voice recognition, but no touchpad remote
The GT60s don’t ship with the second, touchpad/mic equipped remote control you get with the VT60 and ZT60 plasma TVs, but you can issue voice commands to it via a smartphone or tablet using the latest Viera control app.
When it comes to the picture quality that’s always been the main attraction of Panasonic’s plasma TVs, the GT60 TVs again feature plenty of advantages over their predecessors. Improvements to the handling of pre-discharge levels in the set’s plasma chambers have led to an improvement in contrast, while more powerful sub-field driving technology has enabled the GT60s to claim a huge 3000Hz pseudo refresh rate. This should help the screen avoid the sort of judder and colour noise issues that were once commonplace with plasma screens.
Although Panasonic has switched to passive 3D for its LCD range, it’s sticking with active 3D for its plasmas. The P50GT60 includes a single pair of active shutter glasses for free – and that’s not the only accessory you get. For also included is one of Panasonic’s new Electronic Touchpen tools, with which you – or more likely your children – can draw, write, game, select and annotate by prodding away directly on the TV’s specially hardened screen.
Having tested similar technology on the LG 50PZ850T at the end of 2011, we have to say we really don’t expect this feature to be anything more than a waste of space. But hey – at least it doesn’t seem to be adding anything to the P50GT60’s price!
Panasonic TX-P50GT60 - Picture Quality
Spending time with the demo footage being shown on the P50GT60 at the Panasonic convention, it’s fair to say this potential ‘sweet spot’ in Panasonic’s new plasma range (once you’ve taken its price and feature set into account) is looking seriously promising. Even under the bright lights of the convention centre show floor, for instance, we could appreciate the P50GT60’s excellent black level performance. In fact, its handling of dark footage actually seemed slightly less affected by the impact of the bright lighting than the VT60 and ZT60 models further up the range.
This fact helps its colours look startlingly vibrant too, while tones also look beautifully natural, with minimal traces of the green undertone you can get with plasma TVs when they’re watched in bright lighting. Colours look brighter than with last year’s Panasonic plasmas, too.
Also looking mighty fine is the apparent sharpness of the P50GT60’s pictures, especially as its motion handling clearly benefits from both the power of Panasonic’s new Hexa Processing engine and the improved ‘3000Hz’ sub-field driving system.
We weren’t able to test the P50GT60’s 3D pictures at the convention, but the extra brightness and improved motion handling both raise hopes of the set delivering Panasonic’s best 3D performance yet.
Really the only cause for any concern during our hands on with the P50GT60 was the way its screen seemed rather reflective of light sources. This could cause a few problems in sun-drenched rooms, perhaps. But then again, as noted before, there won’t be many domestic situations that deliver as much harsh lighting as a convention centre show floor.
While the new ZT60 TV with its Pioneer KURO-beating black level response might be getting the most buzz, we’ve seen enough of the P50GT60 to suspect that it could well be the biggest hit in terms of cold, hard sales from Panasonic's new plasma range.
Expect a full review in the next couple of months.