Last Updated: June 25, 2013
2006 Panasonic Plasma Television Lineup
Panasonic TH-PX60U Series
...for the home entertainment plasma HDTV market
The TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma television sets released during the last few weeks represent an update over last year extremely popular TH-PX50U series of plasma HDTVs. The TH-PX50U proved to be a great performer at a relatively affordable price.
The new 2006 line-up of consumer plasma TVs promises even more at an even cheaper price tag but... how does it compare?
Discover more in this plasma TV review article.
Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TC-P55ST60
...first HDTV to ever gain a 5-Star rating
in a Cnet review!
If the ST50 from 2012 did prove to be the HDTV to deliver the best value for your money, this new 2013 TV from Panasonic is even better - delivering a picture you would generally expect from a more expensive flagship model. Though its 3D picture is not among the best, the ST60 is capable of amazing picture quality at a price that is well within reach of the average budget.
The Panasonic TH-PX60U Series: The latest line-up of Panasonic Plasma TVs for the serious HDTV buyer
Panasonic has always been considered one of the top leaders in the field of plasma display technology. Since 2001, Panasonic has managed to maintain a competitive edge with respect to image quality; in particular, black-level and gray scaling performance of its plasma display panels is something other top manufacturers are still struggling to achieve.
It is therefore no surprise that Panasonic plasma televisions have always been an extremely popular choice with the home theater buyer. It is more than just the historically good performance that makes Panasonic plasma televisions a preferred choice among the serious HDTV buyer - there is also the aggressive pricing policy adopted by Panasonic to deliver high quality products at an extremely competitive price tag.
This year lineup of consumer plasmas is no exception to the excellent image quality and affordable pricing Panasonic plasma displays are renowned for. In fact, the new TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma television sets promises even improved performance using Panasonic latest (9th generation) plasma display technology at a list price that is substantially lower than that of last year line-up of consumer plasmas. At present, the TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma televisions comprises three models - all of which share basically the same feature set except for a different screen size and display native resolution. The largest set in the series is the Panasonic 50" TH-50PX60U Flat-Panel HD Plasma TV; this set has a pixel native resolution of 1366x768. The other two models, the 42" TH-42PX60U Plasma HDTV and the 37" TH-37PX60U Plasma HDTV, both come with an almost identical resolution at 1024x768 and 1024x720 pixels respectively.
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Panasonic also announced that it will be adding a fourth larger model — the TH-58PX60U — to this series in early summer (2006). This is a 58" model that comes with a screen native resolution of 1366x768-pixels. Prices online vary from the $2,200 for the smallest set in the range to $3,500 for the 50" model. The 58" TH-58PX60U is expected to sell at under $5,500, while the most popular size plasma in the range — the 42" TH-42PX60U Plasma HDTV — is presently selling at just under $2,400. This means that the two most popular plasma sizes in this series of Panasonic plasma televisions, the 42" and the 50", are practically selling at a price tag that is some $500 lower than that of last year models.
The only real competition the TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma televisions faces when it comes to picture quality, is from within Panasonic itself - more specifically from the company's industrial lineup of plasma display panels, the TH-PHD8UK range.
Mind you, all Panasonic plasma televisions in the TH-PX60U series are capable of solid performance in just every aspect, and deliver substantially superior results to those of most plasmas from other manufacturers. In our opinion, the Panasonic TH-PX60U is the range to go for if in addition to an excellent picture, you are also looking for additional features such as integrated speakers, built-in tuners, and a comprehensive range of inputs to suit your needs.
TH-PX60U Panasonic Plasma Television: A Detailed Analysis
Look and Feel
The look of the Panasonic TH-PX60U series is reasonably stylish though some may find the amount of silver finish below the screen a bit distracting at times.
The display features a black alloy frame surrounding the screen's glass. This black frame around the display area helps the eye perceive stronger contrast than the silver frame most models employ. And aesthetically, it results in a more appealing design.
Panasonic has maintained the same approach as in the TH-PX50U series when it comes to positioning of the speakers; these are mounted below the screen rather than on the left and right sides. This explains the smaller footprint associated with the TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma television sets - something which may be considered of an advantage by some. At the same time, if your plasma is not connected to a home theater receiver, than most probably, you would prefer side-mounted speakers. The support stand and the speaker grille below the screen are finished in silver.
Dimension wise, these sets are among the most compact presently available, with an overall width that is almost 2 inches less than that of previous Panasonic plasmas in the consumer lineup. But it is not just the overall width that has been reduced - Panasonic has also managed to substantially reduce the weight of these plasma televisions.
The table below gives the relevant dimensions and weights for each of the models in the TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma Television Sets:
TH-37PX60U 37" Panasonic Plasma Television
TH-42PX60U 42" Panasonic Plasma Television
TH-50PX60U 50" Panasonic Plasma Television
* Without stand; depth of unit complete with stand is 12.5"
The remote control accompanying this year product range is again logically laid out and very easy to use, with large numeric keys compared to previous remotes. The only thing we did not like about the remotes is that contrary to the 2005 series, the TH-PX60U remotes are not backlit - making use in a darkened home-theater environment somewhat difficult. A positive note however is that the accompanying remotes with the 42" and the 50" models are universal remotes that can be used to control other devices in your home theater setup.
Product Feature Set
General: These sets make use of Panasonic 9th generation plasma panel technology - which represents substantial improvement over the previous generation of panels when it comes to displayable colors, shades of gray and contrast levels. It is not that the eye is capable of perceiving the billions of colors supported by the new display technology, or a 10,000:1 contrast ratio at a single point in time (check our article on contrast ratio implications for more information on this subject). However, the overall result is improved picture quality, improved color representation, with smoother color transitions and improved rendering of detail in all dark and in all bright scenes.
Key differences between 8th and 9th generation Panasonic plasma display panels:
|Video Panel Specification||
|8.5 Billion||29 Billion|
Shades of Gray
As already indicated, except for the 50" model - which has got a native resolution of 1366x768, the other two sets in the series support a native resolution of 1024x768 pixels for the 42" model and 1024x720 pixels for the 37" set. This means that though all models qualify as HDTVs, yet the 37" and 42" sets still wouldn't show all detail in a fully resolved 720p HDTV source. At the same time, it is worth keeping in mind that at present, there aren't any plasma TVs in the sub-43" category that support a native resolution of more than 1024x768 pixels.
Supported digital TV standards include 480p/720p/and 1080i. The TH-PX60U scales all incoming material, including 1080i and 720p HDTV, DVD, and standard-definition TV, to fit the available pixels on the screen.
2:3 pull-down is included in the video processing to help combat motion artifacts for film-based video from standard-definition cable, satellite, and antenna sources.
Independent input memories allow for one of the three picture preset modes, 'Vivid', 'Standard', and 'Cinema', to be customized for contrast, brightness, and the like; these settings remain associated with the last-used input. This means that you can pre-set three different inputs.
Selectable color temperature settings - 'Warm', 'Normal', and 'Cool' - is also possible on all models.
Sound: The TV's internal stereo speakers provide 10 watts per channel of quality sound. Channel separation is very good. Special surround processing creates spacious 3D effects from stereo speakers and a selectable audio leveler automatically adjusts the volume level on your TV to prevent wide variations in sound between different TV stations and types of programming.
Other features: Other features include V-Chip Program lockout, on/off sleep timers, a remote control, and closed-caption decoding.
Connectivity: From a connectivity perspective, this series of Panasonic plasma televisions do come with more than an adequate list of inputs and outputs:
3 x Composite video/audio input (RCA phono x 3) - (2 rear, 1 front)
3 x S-Video input (4 pin mini-DIN) - (2 rear, 1 front)
3 x Audio input for S-Video - (2 rear, 1 front)
2 x Component video input (RCA phono x 3) - (2 rear)
2 x Audio input for Component Video - (2 rear)
1 x Composite video/audio output (RCA phono x 3) - (rear)
2 x HDMI-HDCP Interfaces 19-pin HDMI type A - (rear)
1 x Analog Audio input for HDMI - (rear)
Slot provided for 1 SD memory card
Feature Set - Pros & Cons
Unfortunately, Panasonic failed to include a PC-style VGA input, nor does it include the CableCARD slot found on last year series of consumer lineup of Panasonic plasma televisions. The latter is not much of a big loss when considering that first generation CableCARD cannot handle pay-per-view services. The lack of a PC connection is in our opinion more of a serious limitation (though you can always consider investing in a PC video card that comes with an HDMI port) if you are the type that would like to fully integrate your PC with the rest of your home entertainment system.
The TH-PX60U series do not support the picture-in-picture feature found on many other TVs, so you can't watch two programs at once. Again, this is not much of a limitation.
A more series constraint relates to aspect ratio management with 4:3 HD sources. Although the TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma television sets do support aspect ratio management with HD sources - a welcome addition over last year's models - offering a total of five choices with HD and four with SD resolutions, including a zoom that you can adjust for vertical size and position, yet when it comes to 4:3 HD content, the TH-PX60U series simply fails in offering some flexibility.
Instead, models in this series simply put up bright gray bars instead of scaling the incoming source properly, nor you can select black or darker gray bars - say over a stretched image - should you prefer so. This may be a handicap with 4:3 HD sources.
On a positive note, the TH-PX60U Panasonic plasma television series includes a built-in quality ATSC tuner for receiving off-air HDTV broadcasts, a QAM tuner for cable, and an NTSC tuner for regular antenna reception. The built-in tuner in these Panasonic plasma televisions utilize what is referred to as graceful degradation. A tuner that gracefully degrades will allow the viewer to continue to see a picture when a small amount of interference in the over-the-air transmission arises. A tuner that doesn't gracefully degrade, will suffer total dropout if the signal weakens.
In addition, the introduction of front A/V connections provide for convenient camcorder or video game hookup.
Overall performance is very good. Video processing is clean, and once properly set, the TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma televisions can display a true-to-life picture that you will enjoy for hours without suffering of eyestrain or headache.
Black level and grey scaling performance is astounding and close to CRT level. This in reality is one of the areas in which Panasonic plasma televisions have surpassed all competition. Deep black levels are extremely important for home-theater viewing in dim light because they lead to better color saturation, improved perceived contrast ratio and crispness. The result is a picture with more impact.
Brightness tends to be extremely uniform across the whole surface of the plasma screen. In addition, thanks to the Panasonic deep black levels, the TH-PX60U series has no problem in displaying bright images over a dark background.
Quite a number of brands fail in this respect. Some companies simply increase the perceived contrast by increasing the brightness level. However this approach tends to de-saturate picture colors, increase low-level noise and video artifacts, and hence lower the overall picture quality.
Like all value category HDTVs, the TH-PX60U series - with its 37-inch TH-37PX60U, 42-inch TH-42PX60U, and 50-inch TH-50PX60U - while not exactly cheap, but still come with an extremely affordable price tag.
It is true that these plasmas lack features often found in cheaper models - like picture-in-picture, PC input, and a CableCard slot. However, these nice-to-have features are almost irrelevant to normal TV viewing, and not critical in the home theater environment.
If you want a quality plasma HDTV that would not break your bank account, yet is capable of delivering great overall performance with solid blacks and true-to-life colors, then the TH-PX60U series of Panasonic plasma Televisions is surely worth considering.