Panasonic TC-P55S60 (TCP55S60) Review
55" 1080p Wifi Plasma HDTV
The TC-P55S60 is the answer to the not so much seen 55 inch class in the plasma TV realm. Panasonic is the only manufacturer to offer the size in plasma. Aside from that, the S60 series should catch attention be being the only non-3D 1080p plasma of the lot. It has limited internet connectivity, but enough to hold over the most content hungry viewers. The TCP55S60 is a budget model that focuses on delivering the best picture quality for the price.
- In a dark room, the picture is outstanding for the price
- Off center viewing is great, something plasmas always get right
- Black levels, color reproduction
- Clarity, clear Images
- The screen doesn't do a good job of absorbing light, so images can get washed out in bright rooms
- Only 2 HDMI inputs, no SD card slot (but there are 2 USB)
- Sound Quality could be better
- Standard Def picture looks hazy
Picture Quality Rating: 8.6/10
The TCP55S60 brings a full 1080p display to the table for showing HD content at its best. This is a great addition to the lineup considering that Panasonic's non-3D full HD plasma last year was on the bottom of the list. Black levels and color reproduction are the strongest points of picture quality here. In a controlled light environment the S60 provides a very strong picture quality for any price.
Video processing up-conversion from standard definition sources is strong, but not as good as the step-up ST60 in the 60Hz mode. There is apparent judder, but nothing out of the ordinary. There is no de-judder mode (Motion Smoother) on the 55S60 to smooth out the judder, but these de-judder technologies usually cause more harm than good by eliminating too much background blur.
600Hz Sub-field Drive
Plasma TVs have always had a much better refresh rate over LCD and LEDs because the display technology allows for it. Manufacturers needed a name for the refresh rate of plasmas and 600Hz sub-field drive was it. The 600Hz sub-field drive in the TC-P55S60 handles fast action and side to side panning like the best of them. It lacks the 2500 focused-field drive of the ST60, but 600Hz is going to be enough to handle the needs of most programming. There is little to no visible motion lag with fast action (at least not that the human eye can detect).
Deep blacks are seen on the Panasonic S60 series. Color is also another strong point as seen in the example here. In a bright room, screen reflections tend to stand out more than desired
Black Level and Contrast
The TC-P55S60 does not have the Infinite Black Pro panel of the ST60 series above it, but there is no need to worry. This leads to black levels and contrast that are not as strong. Even though they are not as strong, they should still be considered excellent when compared to budget models. The S60 is especially strong when compared against low end LCD and LED displays. Leaving the Infinite Black Pro panel behind lets this 55 inch set stay in the budget range.
Picture Mode Options
Vivid – ridiculous overblown except you will want to use it with non-animated 3D content with the Motion Smoother on Mid setting.
Standard – Too dim, Panasonic's energy saving mode, best to avoid this one.
Home Theater – Very nice picture in this mode brings a lot of light into the picture. TV set to Warm1 white balance.
Cinema – Similar to Home Theater mode in quality except it introduces a much greener tint to the picture (Warm2 WB setting).
Custom – Of course meant to customize, it starts out with 100% contrast and the Motion Smoother set to Mid and totally juices the picture color, overblown like the Vivid setting.
Features Rating: 7.9/10
Online Movies, Internet TV, and Wifi Features
Online Movies creates a middle ground between a full Viera Connect platform and no internet functionality at all. It basically offers access to the top online content providers like Netflix, Hulu, and others like it. We think it is a very useful compromise for not implementing the full blown Viera Connect suite. Many will find this a useful feature.
The optional Electronic Touch Pen is also available on the S60 series. The pen allows you to add a pesonal touch to photos and video by writing directly on the screen. The result can then be shared using the Swipe & Share 2.0 features. 2 pens can be added for $80
The TCP55S60 also includes networking features like DLNA for access to the home network. This allows for quick and easy sharing of content through the built-in wifi of the TV. Viera Link allows the user to control other Viera Link devices, like a blu-ray player, with the S60 remote. There is no web browser available on the TV.
As we go down the line, Panasonic continues to shed inputs. The TCP55S60 includes two HDMI connections and two USB ports. Two HDMI spots may be too few for some, but that is nothing an A/V receiver can't fix. This is an especially easy solution if you already have a home theater of some sort. The two USB ports shouldn't be a problem since wifi is built into the set, which frees up a spot.
Sometimes there is hollow (tunnel-esque) effect that turning the volume up does not remedy. Sound is generally OK from the sound system that has 2 X 10 watt speakers. The standard modes are Standard, Music, Ambience, User. The Natural Surround mode isn't bad for movies but we prefer the simple Standard mode with everything else off. Treble (+6) and bass (-5) which helped slightly.
Appearance and Design
This shot shows the design of the S60 series. The silver trim only runs along the top and bottom of the screen. That small touch sets it apart from the ST60 series plasmas
I was pleasantly surprised by the design of this TV. It looks and feels more expensive than I though it would. The frame is about an inch and it has silver trim bars top and bottom. Depth is 2.5 inches except for the bottom of the panel which is just over 3” to accommodate the speakers.
Value/Bang for the Buck Rating: 9/10
It's hard to beat the S60 when it comes to value. At $999.99 the TC-P55S60 is a great deal if you are not searching for the very best in picture quality and you don't want 3D compatibility. Remember, general picture quality is outstanding for the money, with brightly lit rooms as an exception. The Samsung PN51F5500 is a close equivalent from Samsung's plasma lineup, but I'd go for the S60 for picture, appearance, and performance. The price for the Samsung is a little better since it is smaller. An equivalently priced LED TV like the LG 55LN5400 is about the same price but cant compete on picture quality unless it's in a very bright room.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
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