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CNET calls ZT60 "Best-Performing TV We've Ever Tested"

post #1 of 164
Thread Starter 
In the last few weeks, CNET's David Katzmaier has written several reviews of Panasonic's latest plasma panels. The first of those reviews was a whopper—the Panasonic ST60 received the highest recommendation ever given to a television by CNET. The next one was the four-star rated VT60; in that review, Katzmaier said he finally found a "Kuro killer"—a television that outperforms the famed Pioneer Kuro plasma—and stated that the VT60 produced the second-best picture of any HDTV he has ever reviewed.


The ZT60's picture quality is the best, according to CNET's David Katzmaier

The VT60 came in second place because there is a new champion—in terms of image quality—at CNET's headquarters. Simply put, Katzmaier referred to the flagship ZT60 as "the best-performing TV we've ever tested." Panasonic is undoubtedly pleased that somebody agrees with the ZT60's marketing slogan: "Beyond the Reference." Being declared the best-ever HDTV earned the ZT60 four stars. Why is that the case, and what makes the ZT60 "the best" despite the less-than-five-star rating?

The answer rests in the fundamental value offered by these televisions. Both the VT60 and the ZT60 are premium-priced panels; in fact, the 60-inch VT60 is twice the price of the highly competent ST60. To earn five stars from CNET, it is not enough for a TV to simply be "the best"—apparently, it also needs to represent the best value. The ST60 ranked fourth among 2013 HDTVs in terms of total picture quality, but it is ranked number one for value.

The ZT60 is not about a "best value" proposition. The premium paid over the VT60's price buys very little—the two panels look nearly identical hanging on a wall—but the main difference might just be enough to tip the balance, at least for some discerning videophiles. To be specific, the main differentiating feature between the two panels is the ambient light filter. The ZT60 features a more robust filter, which allows the reproduction of extremely deep blacks in rooms that are not fully dark. According to CNET's review, and backed up by my own personal experience, there is a sweet spot for dim-room viewing where the ZT60 produces one of the best-looking pictures possible in an HDTV panel.

That difference appears to be the factor that led to the crowning of the ZT60 as "best-performing TV." It appears the house Kuro at CNET headquarters will enjoy retirement after an unusually long reign as champion. Shoppers trying to decide between the VT60 and the ZT60 based on image quality concerns will likely find that both HDTVs offer identical image quality in almost all circumstances.
Quote:
"The two high-end Panasonics deliver basically the same picture, including the same black levels, contrast, color and video processing, in dark home theater environments. The only difference arises when the lights come up. In a bright room the ZT60 maintains black levels and reduces reflections better than the VT60." – CNET

The VT60 is slightly brighter, which might be helpful when there is ambient light in a room, but at the same time, the aggressive ambient-light filter on the ZT60 will make it appear to have slightly darker blacks when viewed in the same environment. In Katzmaier's view, the deeper blacks trumped the lower maximum brightness.

For many buyers, that is a hairsplitting difference, and I can confirm it having seen them both at a recent shootout. However, any buyer looking for the ultimate dark-room and dim-room viewing experience on a flat-panel HDTV between 55 and 65 inches should take a good look at the ZT60—it is the flagship in Panasonic's line and sports the best image quality of any television that CNET has ever reviewed.
Quote:
"That's why an extra $500 or so for the ZT60 over the also-superb VT60 and PNF8500 is only worth spending if you absolutely must have the very best. The narrowness of its performance advantage over those TVs hurts its value proposition, so if money is an object, that extra cash is tough to justify." – CNET

Is a superior filter enough to justify the premium Panasonic charges for the ZT60? Or is this simply the wrong year to be buying a premium HDTV? Apparently, the new ZT60 is as good as it gets in terms of image quality. With OLED and UHDTV TVs hitting the market, is image quality enough to justify the investment in such a premium-priced panel?
Quote:
"if you demand the very best right now and can afford it, none of those caveats or qualifiers matter in the face of the ZT60's commanding performance. It simply offers the best overall TV picture quality you can buy right now, period." – CNET

Edited by imagic - 5/21/13 at 9:11pm
post #2 of 164
^^^

biggrin.gifcool.gifbiggrin.gif
post #3 of 164
I wish people would stop acting like Cnet is any kind of reliable authority on anything.

Not that it's not a great TV, it's just that I really don't think we should be putting a whole lot of weight on what they say.
post #4 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadEd View Post

I wish people would stop acting like Cnet is any kind of reliable authority on anything.

Not that it's not a great TV, it's just that I really don't think we should be putting a whole lot of weight on what they say.
Dishhopper controversy still got you down?
post #5 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadEd View Post

I wish people would stop acting like Cnet is any kind of reliable authority on anything.

Not that it's not a great TV, it's just that I really don't think we should be putting a whole lot of weight on what they say.

Agreed, but they've nearly become the go-to source for the fringe/wannabe tech hounds and Katzmaier does know his way around a television. Hence, pretty much a "story" on their "story" here. rolleyes.gif

James
post #6 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadEd View Post

I wish people would stop acting like Cnet is any kind of reliable authority on anything.

Not that it's not a great TV, it's just that I really don't think we should be putting a whole lot of weight on what they say.

David K is as reputable as it gets. His reviews have always been fair and spot on. Who else would you recommend instead?
post #7 of 164
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadEd View Post

I wish people would stop acting like Cnet is any kind of reliable authority on anything.

Not that it's not a great TV, it's just that I really don't think we should be putting a whole lot of weight on what they say.

CNET is the 51'st most popular website in the USA and #105 worldwide. It is one of the most-visited tech-oriented websites. CNET sends journalists to all major technology events. The TV reviews are written by a person, not by a committee. I see nothing wrong with David Katzmaier's approach to reviews, his reputation is solid.

Nobody should base a major buying decision on just one review, however Katzmaier is not alone in considering the ZT60 the best flat-panel out there, in terms of overall picture quality. It would not make sense to dismiss his observations just because CNET published them, since they are accurate observations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Agreed, but they've nearly become the go-to source for the fringe/wannabe tech hounds and Katzmaier does know his way around a television. Hence, pretty much a "story" on their "story" here. rolleyes.gif

James

What gave away the topic, perhaps it was the headline?

CNET is a top Google search result for "Panasonic ZT60," along with Consumer Reports and AVS Forum. CNET achieves the #1 and #2 Google search result for "best HDTV," making it the defacto go-to source for many people who use Google as a tool when shopping for a new HDTV—not just "wannabe tech hounds."
Edited by imagic - 5/23/13 at 5:53am
post #8 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadEd View Post

I wish people would stop acting like Cnet is any kind of reliable authority on anything.

Not that it's not a great TV, it's just that I really don't think we should be putting a whole lot of weight on what they say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MandM View Post

Dishhopper controversy still got you down?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mastermaybe View Post

Agreed, but they've nearly become the go-to source for the fringe/wannabe tech hounds and Katzmaier does know his way around a television. Hence, pretty much a "story" on their "story" here. rolleyes.gif

James

Quote:
Originally Posted by openwheelracing View Post

David K is as reputable as it gets. His reviews have always been fair and spot on. Who else would you recommend instead?

It's not CNET per say that you have to look at, it's who the reviewer is for a particular review in question, that's what matters... and like others have said, David knows his stuff, so no complaints here in that regard smile.gif
post #9 of 164
I hope everyone saw this-
Quote:
For the purposes of this review, Panasonic sent me another Pioneer Kuro, a 60-inch PRO-151FD manufactured in March 2009, ostensibly to help prove that the ZT60 was a superior performer. Unfortunately the Panasonic-supplied Kuro review sample didn't perform as well as I expected, or even as well as CNET's older Kuro (the 50-inch PRO-111FD I've been using as a reference since 2008). The 60-incher showed lighter black levels and a few other issues, which were serious enough that I don't consider it representative of the Kuro breed. For that reason I left it out of the comparison below, with the exception of select bright-room tests. Of course I did keep CNET's older PRO-111FD, which is still entirely representative of the breed, in the mix.

Yet another confirmation of what i was talking about with the kuros at these panasonic demos.

I guess they, i'm guessing, had to do something to the kuros since going by the review, while the ZT60 performs better in certain areas, the differences are too little. And the kuros, again going by the review, still have a deeper BL. But weirdly he saw some things darker on the ZT and VT.
post #10 of 164
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by saprano View Post

I hope everyone saw this-
Yet another confirmation of what i was talking about with the kuros at these panasonic demos.

I guess they, i'm guessing, had to do something to the kuros since going by the review, while the ZT60 performs better in certain areas, the differences are too little. And the kuros, again going by the review, still have a deeper BL. But weirdly he saw some things darker on the ZT and VT.

That's consistent with the observations from the shoot-out, that the Kuro's ambient light filter has been beaten, so the Kuro only enjoys a PQ advantage in terms of deep blacks when a room is blacked out. With even a small amount of ambient light, the ZT60's blacks look darker than a Kuro's. Same goes for the VT60, but the ZT60 performs the trick better.

It's fairly clear at this point that Panasonic's Kuro from their demo was flawed. Presumably nobody is parting with their fully-functional Kuros.
Edited by imagic - 5/22/13 at 8:55am
post #11 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

That's consistent with the observations from the shoot-out, that the Kuro's ambient light filter has been beaten, so the Kuro only enjoys a PQ advantage in terms of deep blacks when a room is blacked out. With even a small amount of ambient light, the ZT60's blacks look darker than a Kuro's. Same goes for the VT60, but the ZT60 performs the trick better.

It's fairly clear at this point that Panasonic's Kuro from their demo was flawed. Presumably nobody is parting with their fully-functional Kuros. I'm not thrilled that the person who supplied the faulty Kuro to Panasonic vouched for it, but c'est la vie.mad.gif

Maybe, just maybe, that Kuro was found at their local e-waste dump yard tongue.gif
post #12 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadEd View Post

I wish people would stop acting like Cnet is any kind of reliable authority on anything.

Not that it's not a great TV, it's just that I really don't think we should be putting a whole lot of weight on what they say.

At least it's not like Stereo Review! They would review EQ, and despite many a flaw within a product would say it's a great product to buy. And DeadEd is from CA. And in AZ WE blame everything on CA!!biggrin.gif

Jeff
post #13 of 164
Kuro from 2009 and VT, ST Panasonic made in 2013. What a comparison?
George
post #14 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by pronghorn/az View Post

At least it's not like Stereo Review! They would review EQ, and despite many a flaw within a product would say it's a great product to buy. And DeadEd is from CA. And in AZ WE blame everything on CA!!biggrin.gif

Jeff

The whole nation blames us for everything they can but the funny thing is that most -- when the come to visit -- want to stay -- hence the 18MM people in SoCal alone. smile.gif
post #15 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glashub View Post

The whole nation blames us for everything they can but the funny thing is that most -- when the come to visit -- want to stay -- hence the 18MM people in SoCal alone. smile.gif

LOL! We are being invaded by CA here in AZ. Lower cost of living!

Jeff
post #16 of 164
i dont know what makes me dont believe too much on CNET....i really dont know!!!
post #17 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

That's consistent with the observations from the shoot-out, that the Kuro's ambient light filter has been beaten, so the Kuro only enjoys a PQ advantage in terms of deep blacks when a room is blacked out. With even a small amount of ambient light, the ZT60's blacks look darker than a Kuro's. Same goes for the VT60, but the ZT60 performs the trick better.

It's fairly clear at this point that Panasonic's Kuro from their demo was flawed. Presumably nobody is parting with their fully-functional Kuros.
I may need to review the review (heh) but didn't David's perception of this varying blackness take place in a completely dark room in his optimum lab type of environment?
post #18 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by openwheelracing View Post

David K is as reputable as it gets. His reviews have always been fair and spot on. Who else would you recommend instead?

Has "reputable" now taken on another meaning that I'm not aware of? David K is nowhere near fair & spot on, and by extension CNet has no relevance in the tech review world by any real audio/videophiles.
post #19 of 164
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinnie97 View Post

I may need to review the review (heh) but didn't David's perception of this varying blackness take place in a completely dark room in his optimum lab type of environment?

Yes you are right, he did say that.

It's still true that if you add any ambient light to a room, the Kuro can't compete with the ambient light filters on the VT60 and ZT60. That's what I saw at the shootout, although D-Nice says the Kuro's brightness setting was wrong on that night.

It's hard to make an absolute judgement, in a dark room, as to which plasma is best for blacks. The only display that was clearly blacker than the Kuro and the ZT60's equally dark screens, was the OLED on my S4. Next year the competition will be brutal.
Edited by imagic - 5/22/13 at 10:37am
post #20 of 164
Yes, I realize the Kuro's filter has been easily eclipsed (one of my motivations to upgrade). wink.gif I am just hoping I won't detect worse black levels during nighttime viewing if/when I replace my 111FD later this year. smile.gif My S3 gets rather dark also. I wish I could afford to splurge on a phone every year. If there is finally some OLED availability next year and I do, in fact, end up getting a set this year, I'll be feeling similarly about TV upgrades (but I won't be too envious at $10-12k).
post #21 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadEd View Post

I wish people would stop acting like Cnet is any kind of reliable authority on anything.

Not that it's not a great TV, it's just that I really don't think we should be putting a whole lot of weight on what they say.



Agreed! smile.gif
post #22 of 164
Didn't Cnet do another review of this panel and gave it 5 stars plus part of a 6th star?
post #23 of 164
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinnie97 View Post

Yes, I realize the Kuro's filter has been easily eclipsed (one of my motivations to upgrade). wink.gif I am just hoping I won't detect worse black levels during nighttime viewing if/when I replace my 111FD later this year. smile.gif My S3 gets rather dark also. I wish I could afford to splurge on a phone every year. If there is finally some OLED availability next year and I do, in fact, end up getting a set this year, I'll be feeling similarly about TV upgrades (but I won't be too envious at $10-12k).
It's perfectly self evident by now, just based on all the debate... it's almost impossible to tell the difference in blacks between the Kuro and the new Pannies. What difference does exist is only relevant to pixel peepers in a dark room, looking for something to argue about.
post #24 of 164
By the way, not only is the review great, but his responses to the commenters are really helpful... Scroll through to find him adding value there, too.
post #25 of 164
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

Didn't Cnet do another review of this panel and gave it 5 stars plus part of a 6th star?

That was the ST60, that got the highest rating ever for a TV reviewed by CNET.
post #26 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

That was the ST60, that got the highest rating ever for a TV reviewed by CNET.



Ok Mark I thought it was a Panny.
post #27 of 164
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

Ok Mark I thought it was a Panny.

It is a Panasonic. Editor's Choice, too. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1468350/cnet-gives-strongest-tv-recommendation-ever-to-tc-pst60-plasma-hdtv-line
post #28 of 164
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

It is a Panasonic. Editor's Choice, too. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1468350/cnet-gives-strongest-tv-recommendation-ever-to-tc-pst60-plasma-hdtv-line



Lots of praise. My next panel is going to be a difficult choice.
post #29 of 164
If I had unlimited funds to buy a new TV, the ZT60 would be the one. That said, I do feel like David K. and CNET are sorta fanboyish with their neverending praise of Panasonic TVs. They may have rated the ST50 the best value, 4th best picture, but when you look at the prices they were using, they weren't realistic street prices. They give other TVs, such as the Samsung e6500/7000/8000 the same ranking on PQ but gave the nod to the 50 on value. I got a 7000 for $100 less than an ST50. I guess you have to do the reviews and do your own shopping. smile.gif

Not knocking the ST50, but it seems like they found a way to get to the result they wanted.

Again, if money were not an option, I'd get a 65" ZT60. I don't need David K. to tell me it's bette. However the value judgement is out the window, at that level. smile.gif

And other than maybe Receivers, every other Panasonic product I've looked at lately is kinda crappy, low end stuff. Weird. Even their LCDs aren't top of the line. I wonder how much they really put into overall R&D.
post #30 of 164
Didn't see the heat output on this panel. Is it another heater?
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