This is an exciting month in the world of high-definition television. It's the time for reviews and shootouts and testing all the new models. May 2013 is a particularly exciting time because of the anticipation that a new plasma from either Panasonic or Samsung could beat the famous Pioneer Kuro in terms of overall image quality and, crucially, in terms of deep black reproduction.
The Panasonic Viera VT60 features enhanced reds and the deepest black levels yet
photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger
CNET recently published a review of the Panasonic VT60 under the headline, "This Panasonic TV has the Best Picture We've Seen." The surprise here is that the company's new flagship—the ZT60—was not the HDTV that dethroned the Kuro as the image-quality champion; instead, it was the step-down model, the VT60. The performance of the ZT60 is still unknown, but as long as it outperforms the model under it, 2013 will see two televisions that beat the Kuro.
While the jury's still out on the ZT60, with the VT60, Panasonic presents a new reference for dark-room viewing. According to the new review, the VT60 plasma is superior to CNETs in-house Pioneer Elite Kuro F111. In addition to deeper blacks and superior shadow detail, the review also noted that bright-room viewing was superior with the new panel.
This Friday and Saturday, Value Electronics will hold its annual HDTV shootout, and the VT60 and ZT60 will both participate in the contest. If the flagship ZT60 outperforms the VT60, there will be no doubt about Panasonic's claim that its top-tier TVs are "beyond the reference." However, it appears that one can already make the same claim for the VT60. The Pioneer Kuro is no longer the king of black levels or overall image quality. May 2013 marks the beginning of a new era for fans of home theater and plasma televisions. What an exciting month.