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In five years it will be 2018. Looking forward, 2018 promises to be an exciting year in sport. The World Cup Finals for soccer will unfold in Russia over the summer, while the XXIII Winter Olympics will come together in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang. However, 2018 is also an important year for Panasonic, since it marks the company’s 100th birthday. Although it may be a bit premature to reflect on the meaning of such a large corporation’s centennial celebration, I do feel there are some parallels that can be made regarding how far Panasonic has come and where it is headed as its 100th birthday approaches.
Before we begin an overview of Panasonic’s extensive 2013 list of new TV models, I’d like to look backwards in order to put the company’s progress, stability and continued competiveness in perspective. In 1918, a Japanese industrialist named Konsouke Matsushita founded Panasonic. He was under-capitalized, undereducated and lacked the necessary manufacturing experience it was believed he would need to succeed. The company initially set itself up as modest vendor of simple duplex lamp sockets. While that industry grew steadily, Konsouke invented a battery-powered bicycle lamp that was more efficient than the candles and lamps that were usually found on bikes throughout the early Twentieth Century. Once completed, Konsouke’s bicycle lamps were widely popular, and he decided to open a retail store. He also used this success to expand the company’s sales channels and create an umbrella company that oversaw a whole host of smaller manufacturing outfits. Eventually that parent company became Panasonic, and the dream of Konsouke continued to grow throughout the century.
Today, Panasonic is a global force focused on innovation. The company also seems to retain the humility and ambition of its early leader. Their product designs remain understated and their rich history acts as a reliable brand identity. Instead of using their resources to sell a brand, they stick to what they know best and quietly produce some of the finest consumer electronics the market has to offer. Although we don’t hear much from them in the way of hype and advertising, Panasonic is still the world’s fifth largest manufacturer and seller of televisions. If they have changed one part of their operation, it has been a growing eco-awareness that has lead to yearly decreases in the amount of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) in their products. Plus, all of Panasonic’s 2013 TVs have earned the government’s maximum Energy Star rating as well. With that history in mind, let’s take a look at their 2013 line of LED and plasma televisions.
The first two models to consider are the 32-inch VIERA XM6 Series Slim LED HDTV and the VIERA B6 Series Direct LED HDTV. The XM6 is offered only in the 32-inch size, while the B6 is available in a 32-inch model, a 39-inch model and a 50-inch model. Both the 32-inch B6 and the XM6 feature an LCD panel with 1366 x 768 (720p) HD resolution. The XM6 is also equipped with Slim Edge-Lit LED technology, a 16:9 aspect ratio and a wide 176-degree viewing angle. It supports multiple preprogrammed picture modes, VESA wall-mounting capability, dual 5-Watt stereo speakers with simulated V-Audio Surround and Dot Noise Reduction that automatically reduces pixel noise around objects on the screen.
For connectivity, the XM6 and the B6 both have two HDMI inputs, one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). Both TV models also feature an optical audio output for sending the TV’s audio signal to your AV receiver for multi-channel surround sound output. The XM6 provides a USB media player and an SD card reader, while the B6 is outfitted with only a USB port that you can use to enjoy both photo and audio files right on your TV.
Although the 32-inch B6 LED TV supports only HD (720p) resolution, the other two larger B6 models both feature a Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel with Direct-Lit LED backlighting technology. The two larger B6 LED TV models also feature the same dual HDMI connectivity, USB port for photo or audio playback and all the other inputs and outputs that are featured on the smaller B6 model. All three models offer a digital optical output as well. Other notable features shared by all three B6 models include five preprogrammed picture modes, VESA compliance for easy wall mounting, and Dot Noise Reduction.
The next level of Panasonic’s 2D LED TV lineup features the VIERA EM60 Series Slim LED Full HDTV, which is available in either a 39-inch or 50-inch model. The VIERA EM60 features a Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel with LED backlighting, a 16:9 aspect ratio and a wide 176-degree viewing angle. This model also features Panasonic’s own 240 BLB Backlight Blinking technology, which is used to enhance the smoothing qualities of the TV’s refresh rate. When it’s employed, the 240 BLB helps to deliver optimal image sharpness, clarity and contrast—even when watching fast-moving action during sports games and movies. The EM60 provides 20 Watts of simulated surround sound as well, thanks to the two integrated 10-Watt, full-range stereo speakers with V-Audio technology.
Like the B6 and XM6, the EM60 is outfitted with dual HDMI inputs, multiple analog audio and video inputs, a digital optical audio output and a USB media player. However, the EM60 supports playback of a much broader selection of media files that includes several different audio, video and photo formats. The EM60 also supports Audio Return Channel (ARC) via HDMI. Panasonic’s Dot Noise Reduction helps the TV prevent pixilation around the busy areas of the screen for more lifelike image reproduction, and its ultra-narrow bezel creates a nearly edgeless picture for a uniquely immersive viewing experience.
Panasonic’s next level of 2D LED entertainment includes “Smart” Internet connectivity. Although the Panasonic Smart VIERA E60 Series Full HD LED TV doesn’t support Passive 3D or Active 3D viewing, it is packed with a host of entertaining accoutrements for virtually endless consumption possibilities. Plus, with the option to choose between the affordable 42-inch model, the mid-range 50-inch and 58-inch models or the extra-large 65-inch model, Panasonic has made the E60 Series flexible enough to work for a whole cross-section of the population. If you have little desire for 3D viewing at home and you want all the latest Smart TV options in your living room, then the E60 is an ideal all-around choice. Another plus is that the 42-inch E60 is surprisingly affordable.
All four E60 models feature a Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel with LED backlighting and 120 Hz/240 BLB Backlight Blinking Technology, which ensures crisp and clear images even when you’re watching the Indianapolis 500 or the latest action movie. However, the highlight of the E60 is its integrated Wi-Fi wireless Internet connectivity. You’ll be able to surf the Web using the built-in web browser, and you’ll be able to access DLNA home network content. The E60 features Panasonic’s VIERA Connect as well, which delivers cloud-based Internet content right to your TV. You can use it to access video-on-demand (VOD) movies, or you can catch up on your favorite TV shows, play online games, stream entertainment from a wide range of apps and more.
The E60 also supports the convenient My Home Screen menu, which provides instant access to your favorite Smart TV content. You can also select and customize your My Home Screen menu using a variety of apps that include YouTube, Skype, Facebook and more. Panasonic offers a free downloadable VIERA Remote 2 app, so you can use your iOS or Android mobile device as a second screen or as a remote control for the TV.
For connectivity, the E60 offers three HDMI inputs with support for Audio Channel Return (ARC). It also provides a USB port that you can use as a media player to enjoy a variety of photo, audio and video files right on your TV screen. There’s an optical audio output and an Ethernet jack for making a wired network connection. The E60 provides Swipe & Share 2.0 connectivity as well. Swipe & Share lets you easily transfer video, photos, music and web pages between your compatible mobile devices and the E60 TV screen. It lets you share content with friends and family, and you can easily store media files or save a web page you want to remember for later.
The E60’s other main features include SMART VIERA Voice Guidance and the C.A.T.S. Contrast Automatic Tracking System. Voice Guidance lets you use text-to-speech functionality to easily verbalize text that ‘s on the TV screen. You can also use it to read out program information, SNS messages, web page content and much more. The E60’s C.A.T.S. is similar to an ambient light sensor on a tablet. Basically, the E60 uses this technology to automatically adjust the screen brightness depending on the ambient light level in the room. It’s also worth mentioning that the E60 Series is equipped with dual 10-Watt, full-range stereo speakers that pump out a rich 20-Watt stereo output. The speaker’s are enhanced with V-Audio technology as well, which gives the speakers a simulated surround effect.
These next three Panasonic LED TV models are all fairly similar to each other. And, each one is also similar to the E60 as well, with the exception of one conspicuous difference—all three of the following models support 3D viewing. First we’ll look at the Smart VIERA ET60 Series Full HD 3D LED TV. It’s available in either a 50-inch model or a 55-inch model and it shares all of the same Wi-Fi and Internet Smart TV features as the E60 model. These include VIERA Connect, My Home Screen, access to selectable apps and all the E60’s other Smart features. The ET60 also provides Voice Guidance and Swipe and Share 2.0, plus it works with the VIERA Remote App. The ET60’s Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel is brightened with LED backlighting. It features three HDMI inputs, a digital optical audio output and dual USB ports for viewing audio, photo and video files on the TV screen. The ET60 also provides an SDXC card reader for playing a variety of multimedia files from an SDXC memory card directly onto the TV.
The ET60 is equipped with Panasonic’s Clear Panel Pro Filter as well, which reproduces images with deeper blacks, even when viewed in bright surroundings. And, in order to ensure that your audio is of the same caliber as the TV’s image quality, the ET60 is equipped with two built-in 4-Watt stereo speakers and a 10-Watt, 75mm subwoofer that combine to produce rich 2.1-channel audio with 18-Watts of total power output. It supports simulated surround sound as well, thanks to the VR-Audio Pro Surround 2.1 technology. The ET60 even provides free Skype video calling. All that’s required is the optional Skype camera.
The ET60 provides an ultra-wide 178° viewing angle so everyone in the room can see the TV comfortably and clearly. It also features Panasonic's 120 Hz/720 Back Light Scanning technology for clarity when watching any type of high-speed action. The ET60 even offers 2D to 3D conversion technology. This is a truly useful and fun feature that allows you to convert any 2D content you might be watching—or are planning to watch—into vivid, exciting Full HD 3D. The ET60 ships with two pairs of 3D glasses and it features an ultra-slim metal bezel design that is both stylish and functional, since it makes wall-mounting your TV an even easier endeavor.
The Smart VIERA DT60 Series Full HD 3D LED TV also shares several features with the E60 and ET60 models. However, it does offer a slightly different choice in screen-size availability. You can either choose a more traditional 55-inch model or you can go for the larger 60-inch model. The DT60 includes most of the same high-end functionality found on the ET60, as well as a handful of other unique features. It features a similar brushed-aluminum frame with an ultra-narrow bezel. While the ET60 affords only Voice Guidance, the DT60 supports Voice Interaction, which takes things a step further by allowing you to use your voice to interact with the TV, rather than being limited to a series of voice prompts to guide you through commands, messages and menus. The DT60 also features an upgraded 1920 BLS Backlight Scanning technology, which works extra hard to ensure that fast-paced sports and other high-speed action is exceptionally clear and blur-free.
The DT60 also employs a Hexa-Processing Engine with a Dual Core Pro4 chip processor for faster multitasking, and it’s equipped with Bluetooth wireless technology so you can easily connect peripheral devices like a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. It ships with a user-friendly Touch Pad Remote Controller and four pairs of 3D glasses.
The last new 2013 3D LED TV from Panasonic that we’ll cover in this article is the Smart VIERA WT60 Series Full HD 3D LED TV. Not only does it share nearly every feature of the DT60 including 3D viewing in Full HD 1920 x 1080p resolution with LED backlighting and built-in Wi-Fi, but it also features a handful of additional tools to further improve your viewing experience. It is the flagship model of the three 3D LED TVs covered in this article and it’s available with either a 47-inch or 55-inch screen. The WT60 is wrapped in an ultra-slim metal bezel and it includes a stylish clear acrylic stand, four pairs of 3D glasses and Panasonic’s interactive Touch Pad Remote Controller. This model is equipped with 240 Hz/4200 Backlight Scanning technology for optimal clarity and blur-free viewing. It’s compatible with the optional Panasonic Electronic Touch Pen as well, which means you can add the optional Touch Pen to the many other methods available to control and navigate through the TV’s functions. One last highlight that helps the WT60 to stand out at the top is its integrated camera. This means that the free Skype calling function requires nothing else to work. Just plug in the TV, connect to your home network and start making video calls to friends and family—right on the TV’s impressive display.
I thought we’d start with an eco-friendly feature that all the Panasonic plasma TV models' panels share. They are all built completely free of both lead and mercury. Not only does this help keep potentially deadly poisons out of your home, it also reduces the harm done to the environment later on when you finally decide to recycle your TV, which may not be for a while considering that they also all feature a lifespan of about 100,000 hours. If you do the math, that comes out to a long TV life of nearly eleven and a half years.
The most affordable plasma model for 2013 is the VIERA X60 Plasma HDTV. The X60 is available in either a 42-inch model or a 50-inch model. It features HD 1024 x 768 (720p) resolution, as well as an advanced 600 Hz Sub-Field Drive that promotes a crisp and smooth viewing experience—even if you’re watching fast-paced sports or action sequences. The X60 also features C.A.T.S. automatic brightness control.
The X60 provides an impressive 3,500,000:1 contrast ratio, dual HDMI inputs, analog connections and a USB port for playback of audio, video and photo files on the TV’s large screen. One of the HDMI inputs supports Audio Return Channel (ARC) as well. The X60’s audio system features dual 10-Watt, full-range stereo speakers that deliver 20 Watts of total power output. They also support V-Audio technology, which creates the illusion that your two TV speakers are providing a surround-sound experience.
The most affordable of the Internet-equipped plasma models for 2013 are part of the Panasonic Smart VIERA S60 Series Full HD Plasma TV, available in a relatively modest 42-inch model, a 50-inch model, a 55-inch model, a 60-inch model and an extra-large 65-inch model that you could watch comfortably even if it were in the living room next door. All sizes are equipped with a 600 Hz Sub-Field Drive, as well as a sharp 4,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
The rest of the S60’s advanced features are basically identical to the features we covered when looking at the LED TVs. The S60 features built-in Wi-Fi, Swipe & Share 2.0, dual HDMI inputs with support for Audio Return Channel (ARC) and dual USB 2.0 ports. The S60 also provides four preprogrammed picture modes and a custom mode, as well as a narrow bezel with VESA compliance for easy wall mounting. It works with the VIERA Remote 2 App for iOS and Android mobile devices as well.
Besides accessing online media through a variety of Internet sources, the S60 also facilitates DLNA home network streaming, and it supports VIERA Link. The S60 features the same 20-Watt stereo sound system with V-Audio virtual surround sound as the X60. It’s also equipped with C.A.T.S. for automatically adjusting the plasma screen brightness, depending on the amount of ambient light in the room. One last feature worth noting is the S60’s Power Save Mode and Eco Mode. The Power Save Mode reduces power consumption by adjusting the brightness. The Eco Mode automatically turns the power off, or it can also adjust the brightness, depending on the TV’s operating status.
The last two models that this TV review will cover are both the higher-end plasma TVs in Panasonic’s current 2013 lineup. The Smart VIERA ST60 Series Full HD Plasma 3D TV is available with a screen size of 50-inches, 55-inches, 60-inches or 65-inches. It supports 3D viewing and features a Full HD 1920 x 1080p NeoPlasma panel with an Infinite Black Pro filter that’s designed to heighten the TV’s overall contrast. The ST60 also features a 2500 Focused Field Drive that promotes image clarity. It’s equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and it supports access to most of the major Panasonic Smart features. It also supports Full HD 2D to 3D conversion, as well as multiple digital and analog connectivity options including several HDMI inputs, an optical audio output, an Ethernet jack for wired network connectivity and dual USB ports.
The ST60 also supports a variety of other connectivity options including VIERA Link and Bluetooth wireless technology. It works with VIERA Connect and the VIERA Remote 2 App. Plus, it offers an SDXC memory card reader for playing back your saved multimedia. The ST60 even promotes Skype calling on TV; however, an optional camera is required. For added value, the ST60 ships with two pairs of 3D glasses.
Although the ST60 appears to be a fully loaded plasma TV, the Panasonic Smart VIERA VT60 Series Full HD Plasma TV is even more feature-packed. Whether you choose the 55-inch model, the 60-inch model or the 65-inch model, you’ll be getting an entertainment machine fully equipped with a 3D Full HD 1920 x 1080p NeoPlasma Black 3000 panel, a 3000 Focused Field Drive and an Infinite Black Pro Ultra filter for optimal high-speed clarity and rich contrast. The VT60 even features THX Certification and Voice Interaction.
Like other high-end Panasonic TV models, the VT60 supports VIERA Connect, DLNA home network streaming, access to the integrated My Home Screen menu and compatibility with the free VIERA Remote 2 App for iOS and Android. This innovative plasma TV also promotes streaming from a variety of online content sources, as well as a variety of entertainment apps including Netflix, YouTube, etc. For traditional connection options, the VT60 has three HDMI inputs, three USB ports and an SDXC memory card reader. It supports Audio Return Channel (ARC), Voice Guidance, Swipe & Share 2.0, C.A.T.S. automatic brightness adjustment, VIERA Link and Bluetooth connectivity. Another highlight that sets this model apart is its integrated Skype camera for free Skype calling on your TV. It also features a 2.1-channel, 20-Watt integrated sound system with a built-in subwoofer and VR-Audio Pro Stage 2.1 simulated surround sound technology.
For more information on any of these Panasonic LED or Plasma TVs, or if you want to view our complete line of new TV models for 2013, be sure to check out the B&H website, stop by the SuperStore in Manhattan or contact a sales professional at 1-800-606-6969 or online via Live Chat.