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Panasonic ST60 (TX-P42ST60) 3D Plasma TV Review

Shh, don't tell anyone!

by Mark Hodgkinson Jun 15, 2013


Home AV review

25

SRP: £799.00

Introduction

In some ways, the ST series is the forgotten son of the Panasonic plasma range this year. The 2012 ST50 series blew us away for its outstanding price vs performance ratio but with the advent of the new flagship ZT series, the ST60 finds itself as an also-ran as far as Panasonic’s marketing efforts are concerned; which is a shame as it boasts most of the features found in the higher echelons of the range and should offer at least close to the performance of the outstanding GT, VT and ZT series. At a retail price currently under £800, this ‘also-ran’ is looking like a fine prospect!

Design and Connections

The ST60 is a bit more 2012 than it is 2013 but it still looks great despite the hand-me-down appearance from last year’s design sheets. There’s a narrow black bezel which is encased in a shiny metal-effect trim that’s offset by a slightly more matte finish to the base-stand, which is a swiveller. Panasonic’s slightly redesigned remote control features new and prominent buttons for Home and Apps, which ties in well with Panasonic’s newly designed interface. The remote has a gloss black finish and feels very comfortable to hold and has well thought out button placement.

All 3 HDMI connections are sideways facing, which makes wall mounting easier, but are less than 10cm from the edge of the bezel. Along with the HDMI ports, also side-pointing are two USB ports, a headphone socket, a SD card slot, a Common Interface (CI) slot and an optical digital audio output. Facing downwards there is an Ethernet port and the component and composite connections. The AV2 connection doubles up for component and composite video and the AV selection menu lets you manually select which type of signal is being sent, whilst the AV1 input is exclusively for SCART sources. There’s also a DTV aerial terminal for Freeview HD.

New to the Panasonic plasmas this year, is the inclusion of an electronic Touchpen, which Panasonic have ported over from some of their professional panels. The Touchpen pairs with your TV via Bluetooth and then uses the light from each pixel to provide positioning data which, thanks to the fast response time of the panel, allows for free drawing on the screen. There is a protective layer on the screen that you touch the pen against, although Panasonic do stress that you don’t push too hard. You can use the Touchpen for drawing pictures, adding messages or playing games and, although it does work very well, the novelty ran out quickly and probably those most impressed by its capabilities (children), are the very ones it needs to be kept furthest from.
The TX-P42ST60 ships with one pair of Panasonic’s latest active shutter 3D glasses (TY-ER3D5MA), which seem to have had a slight makeover since last year. The new glasses share the same general design as the earlier ones, so they’re still relatively featherweight and comfortable to wear and they’re also pleasingly tint-free so wont discolour 3D images in any meaningful way.

Menus

After first tuning and setting up the ST60, owners will be greeted by Panasonic’s new My Home Screen which comes with 4 default views – Full Screen TV, TV Home Screen, Lifestyle Screen & Info Screen – with a further option to create customised screens as one sees fit. We’re not going to give you chapter and verse on it here, however, as we’ve given it in-depth coverage in a separate review of Panasonic's smart Viera platform but the short version is, we really like it.

Moving in to the Menus ‘proper’ and the basic look of the interface is familiar from last year’s ranges with a two-tone blue and gold colour scheme and sharp, easy to read text in sharp white. The Menus are split in to six sub-menus, Picture, Sound, Network, Timer, Set and a new Help section which, amongst other things, includes an ‘eHELP’ interactive menu. The Picture Menu has seen some additions since the 2012 system with many of the new ‘enhancements’ being the first things you should be looking to switch off. There’s also the new Viewing Mode - Custom - to accompany the existing Dynamic, Normal, Cinema and True Cinema option. The first page includes the standard picture controls, plus Vivid Colour, Ambient Sensor and Noise Reduction, which should be shut down.

Moving on to the second page there are controls for the MPEG Noise Reduction and Intelligent Frame Creation - all of which should be turned off if image fidelity is important to you. Don’t forget that Intelligent Frame Creation switches to 24p Smooth Film when you’re watching 24p content and in some of the modes it defaults to maximum, so make sure that is off as well. Also on this page you can access the Advanced Settings, Option Settings, Screen Settings and 3D Settings sub-menus.
The Advanced Settings sub-menu includes some new features and the most important is the Panel Luminance Settings which offers a choice of Low, Medium or High. There is also an Adaptive Gamma Control and a Black Expander feature, both of which we zeroed and the Colour Gamut, with the option to select Normal best suited for HDTV content. Then we have all the conventional calibration controls in the form of a two- and ten-point White Balance, preset Gamma values with a 10 point adjustment feature and a Colour Management System for detailed adjustment of the primary colour. The Option Settings sub-menu allows for selecting the Game Mode and the Film Cadence Mode.

The last sub-menu is 3D Settings and here you can make adjustments to the 3D performance, although generally you shouldn’t need to make any changes when watching 3D content. However should you need to the options include 3D Detection, 3D Signal Message, 3D Refresh Rate, 2D to 3D Depth, 3D Adjustment, L/R Picture Swap, Edge Smoother and Safety Precautions.

Features

The P42ST60B doesn’t include Panasonic’s new Hexa-Processing chip but still makes a good fist of streaming on-demand services. The biggest difference we noted – Hexa vs Vreal - is the slowness of loading web pages so no big deal. There’s two ways in to Panasonic’s smart experience this time around; one can either go straight in to the Apps screen where the full suite can be uncovered or opt to go via the more personalised My Home Screen interface. The Apps screen is very reminiscent of a tidied-up version of Samsung’s Smart Hub and none the worse for it. We like it a lot, especially as it provides a unified location for the full bag of goodies: including access to the Web Browser, Media Player and Server, the Main Menu and TV Guide as well as the installed apps.

As well as the new content and interface, Panasonic has also launched their new VIERA Remote 2 app. This latest version of their remote app is available for both iOS and Android and includes a redesigned interface and some new features such as access to the apps page. There is also Swipe & Share 2.0 which allows for easier sharing of content between devices, with just a flick of the finger (or thumb).

Test Results

Basic Setup


As is almost customary from Panasonic plasma’s, the most accurate picture modes show an excess of green energy in the greyscale and whilst it’s not always glaringly obvious, it’s very easy to see once you compare to a calibrated picture. With delta errors approaching 8 in the mid-tones, we’re certainly in the territory where the green tint is visible to the human eye and the gamma is tracking undesirably low, meaning everything is just a bit more washed out than it really should be in the default True Cinema Viewing Mode 2.2 setting. With both 10 point white balance and gamma controls we should have no issues in flattening both responses. The CIE Diagram, below right, displays a green over-saturated to a surprising extent and an under-saturated red that’s heading off towards orange, which is far less startling and another trait of the Panasonic plasma range.

Calibrated Results


After first making adjustments to the 2 point White Balance controls, getting delta E’s around 2 throughout, we moved on to fine-tuning with the 10pt controls and were able to completely neutralise the greyscale to a degree that wasn’t really necessary, in all honesty, but since the controls are so good, it’s a shame not to get the most from them! About the only significant omission from the ST60’s calibration arsenal is a full, six axis Colour Management System but there is a three axis control giving full control over the Hue, Saturation and Luminance of the primary colours.

As we can see from the CIE chart above, we were able to fix the over-saturation of green very well indeed although to get the best balance, we left red a little under but with delta Errors under 1 all round, it’s not as though you’re going to notice. The multiple saturation point charts are also superb, with no discernible errors at 25, 50 or 75% and the ST60 is performing just as well as the more expensive sets in terms of its colour reproduction, at least.

Contrast, Black Levels & Screen Uniformity


Consistency is a good thing in this area of testing, especially when the results are consistently superb. The Panasonic TX-P42ST60 gives up very little to its more esteemed contemporaries in terms of black levels and dynamic range and is comfortably able to reproduce whites that hit 120 cd/m2, and beyond. A full screen black pattern gave a reading of precisely 0.005 cd/m2, which puts it in to the realms of being amongst the blackest TVs ever produced. The fact that it could maintain such deep levels with the mixed black and white content of an ANSI checkerboard pattern is also an atramentous result (please look it up, we’re unduly pleased with that one). The scores on the doors for those that need those numbers – On/Off Contrast is 24,300:1 and ANSI Contrast is 16,431:1. Tidy! As we can also see from the ANSI pattern, light distribution is superb and we could detect no trace of vertical bands, which troubled some of the 2012 TVs.


Picture Processing

It may not have the fancy ‘HEXA’ processor of the GT, VT and ZT series but the ST60 proved just as capable of providing excellent video processing with impressive scaling of standard definition signals and a cadence detection option that picks up on the most common 2:2 variant used in PAL DVDs. Deinterlacing of video content at 1080i was also excellent and 1080p24 – the most commonly used Blu-ray standard – showed only the inherent stutter natural to the low frame rate. For those that really don’t like it, using 24p Smooth Film in Mid alleviates it but at the expense of making everything look overly smooth. Still, the option is there if you want it, just don’t tell us you use it.

Gaming Performance

About the only measurable disadvantage of the ST60 when compared to the higher-tier Panasonic Plasmas is the reaction to controller input which measures at 76.5 milliseconds, even with the Game Mode activated. It’s about the only thing letting the side down too, as games look absolutely tremendous and very smooth indeed with native 60 frames per second. With the advent of the PS4 and Xbox One, hopefully console gamers can begin to stop worrying about performance at below 60 fps. Well, we live in hope anyhow.

...reaction to controller input measures at 76.5 milliseconds

Energy Consumption

  • Standby: 0W
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
  • Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 243W
  • Calibrated – True Cinema Mode: 141W
  • Calibrated - 3D Mode: 221W

Picture Quality - 2D

With such high quality ingredients in the form of superb dynamic range, a totally neutral greyscale and supremely accurate colours you might ask what can possibly go wrong? And the answer would be very little indeed; the Panasonic ST60 is close to flawless, and especially when you consider what is an almost laughable asking price for a TV of this quality. If it’s a given that high-def broadcasts and Blu-ray – in particular – are going to look amazing, then it’s a nice added bonus that the ST60 is pretty sympathetic to ye olde standard definition sources; although, of course, a 42-inch panel is always going to show up fewer defects than the ‘big boys’ but it’s good news nonetheless for those that aren’t yet fully HD only.

The two most recent pressing picture quality concerns of Panasonic’s Neo Plasma range have stemmed from a lack of optimisation for 50Hz sources and since that’s what our broadcasters (short-sightedly) decided was going to be our staple fare, it’s kind of important that Panasonic looked to address this. And they have. There is still the occasional double edge to objects under panning or in motion but the horrors of the 50Hz Bug are now largely a thing of the past and motion handling is generally sublime – without recourse to frame insertion guesswork. We still did pick up on some Dynamic False Contouring (DFC), manifest most obviously in magenta and green tinging to cheek and jawbones but also visible on other objects, it’s again reduced from years gone by. Perhaps not quite to the extent that we’ve seen with the GT60, VT65 and ZT65 but it’s a small price to pay, all things considered.

To say the Panasonic 42ST60 punches above its weight, in picture quality terms, might just be the biggest understatement we’ve made in quite a while, it might be better to say it smashes the ball out of the park using a wooden spoon.

Picture Quality - 3D

Without a proper side-by-side comparison it’s difficult to be definitive about this but our memories tell us that the 3D performance of the ST60 doesn’t quite match that of the upper tier TVs. We could definitely see a touch more crosstalk with our Wimbledon 3D test footage and although colours were quite vibrant it seems to lack the overall punch and depth of the GT, VT and ZT. That’s not to say it’s a poor 3D performer – it isn’t, it’s actually very impressive in many respects - but those (precious few) who value their 3D viewing might want to consider shelling out a little extra to see the best.

Video Review


Conclusion

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Superb black levels
  • Incredible dynamic range
  • Outstanding colour accuracy
  • My Home Screen is great
  • Lots of well implemented smart features
  • Nice design
  • Amazing value for money

The Bad

  • Too laggy for gamers
  • 3D is better on the more expensive Viera plasmas
  • We're running out of superlatives

I own this 10
I want this 1
I had this 0

Panasonic ST60 (TX-P42ST60) 3D Plasma TV Review

The Panasonic ST60 might be a ‘last year’ in terms of its looks but it’s still a pleasant sight with a narrow black bezel wrapped up in a silver trim sitting atop a stylish metallic, swivelling base-stand. Connectivity options are decent with three HDMI ports to the side and Wi-Fi built-in. In fact the ST60B lacks very little from the more illustrious Viera plasmas, in terms of the Smart features on-board and can also boast a Web Browser, my Home Screen, Viera Remote 2 and a very decent media player amongst its suite of attractions. We did notice that the experience wasn’t as snappy – it isn’t equipped with the new Hexa Processor – but in day to day use, it proved a very adequate Smart TV.

The lack of processing grunt was actually felt more with gaming where we recorded an input lag measurement around 75 milliseconds, which is tardy by any standards. Other than the lag, there was very little other quantifiable data that would suggest the ST60 possess inferior electronics to that of the GT, VT or ZT, although a little increased crosstalk with 3D and blacks that don’t quite plumb the depths of darkness that the others do are at least notable. With 2D pictures, the Panasonic ST60B is simply sublime, offering up images of such outstanding accuracy and dynamic range that you’re left shaking your head at the sub £900 asking price. It’s an astonishing achievement for Panasonic and yet another reason we’d beg them to hang on to plasma tech just that bit longer; at least until OLED is truly ready for primetime. Best Buy – what else could it have been?

Best Buy

The Rundown

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

10

Colour Accuracy

9

Greyscale Accuracy

9

Video Processing

9

2D Picture Quality

9

3D Picture Quality

9

Sound Quality

5

Smart Features

8

Build Quality

8

Ease Of Use

8

Value for Money

8

Verdict

8

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges here.


    1. The News Bot

      The News Bot News Supplying Robot Staff Member

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      Reviewed by Mark Hodgkinson, 15th June 2013. It’s an astonishing achievement for Panasonic and yet another reason we’d beg them to hang on to plasma tech just that bit longer; at least until OLED is truly ready for primetime. Best Buy – what else could it have been?
      Read the full review...
    2. Mumid

      Mumid Member

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      This looks like an amazing TV for the money but the input lag absolutely kills it if you want to use it for games. Is there no way this could be a firmware issue? 75ms seems exceptionally high
    3. moochweiser

      moochweiser Member

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      what where the settings once calibrated? would like to try them out :)
    4. Jan Pogonowski

      Jan Pogonowski Member

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      So not in anyway suitable for gaming, even the casual gamers will notice 76ms.
    5. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      Mark will be posting them today, he'll add a link once he has.
    6. stevevosper

      stevevosper Member

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      Hi Steve,

      Got my 55" ST60 this weekend, it truly is stunning! So glad you guys have given it a best buy, it deserves it.

      Just a quick one, when Mark posts the settings, where will they be? On here or in the ST60 owners thread? Mine just needs a mild tune up to get the best ut of it! :smashin:
    7. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      It'll be posted in the plasma TV forum but I'm sure Mark will put a link here too.
    8. Mark Hodgkinson

      Mark Hodgkinson Reviewer & News Writer Staff Member

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      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    9. malrdaw

      malrdaw Member

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      As usual great reviews.....Question
      Like the high end audio fraternity continue to produce suberb "stereo" equipment why can't Panasonic supply a VT or GT equivalent without 3D and perhaps make it slightly more economic???:lease:
    10. stevevosper

      stevevosper Member

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      I think you'll find the ST60 bang for buck represents tremendous value. The picture is incredible for the price. I cannot believe panasonic can sell a tv this good for the price!
    11. Nostromo71

      Nostromo71 Member

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      Well, I took my Xbox to the Panasonic store and tried it on the ST60, and playing Dead Or Alive 4, I couldn't notice any form of lag at all. Of course, that was not online. I can't comment on that. I still can't get my head around something that is measured at the low end of 1000nths of a second, being noticeable, or detrimental to gaming. The blink of an eye takes 300 to 400 milliseconds. I don't game online, but I can't say I've ever experienced input lag in the six years I've used my Xbox 360 with my Samsung Plasma.
    12. stevevosper

      stevevosper Member

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      I agree, I have this tv, and I can't notice anything! I think it's blowing out of proportion!
    13. AndreiNR

      AndreiNR Member

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      May I dare to ask what patterns you used for calibration? I find small apl to give good results for wb but I' m curious what you used for wb and cms and gamma too. Thank you!
    14. enfant_teribl

      enfant_teribl Member

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      Great review. How did you find reflectivity compared to the other Pannies?
    15. stevevosper

      stevevosper Member

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      Sorry to be REALLY pedantic, but the image you have of the ST60 is the US version, as the UK one has a silver stand, not black. (Sorry, i'm so sad...)
      :D
    16. enfant_teribl

      enfant_teribl Member

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      Glad you pointed that - i wasn't which colour it was!
    17. epgawt

      epgawt Member

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      Hi Mark,

      first of all, congrats for your great review!

      I am deciding between 65VT or 65ST but there are a couple of issues that bother me, I hope yo can help me:

      1.- air gap between glass - panel

      I currently own a P50V10, which had black deterioration issues and also is one-sheet of glass design, so I can see double image from the sides. This design is the same for VT60, but not for the ST60, which does not have any gap between the panel and the front filter, like ZT60.

      Is this a real problem in VT60? how does this fact compare to ST60?

      2.- luminance levels

      VT60 is better qualifed than ST60, but its luminance is lower, around 70 cd/m against 90cd/m ANSI for the ST60, this is a 30% more, so, maybe the resulting image may not be worth the price, providing the ST60 has much more "punch" than the VT, is this the case ?

      I am wondering if regarding luminance levels, what's happening with Samsung PS64F8500 in respect to Panasonic plasmas could be somehow the same as ST60 in respect to VT60...with the important difference that the blacks/contrast are quite similar between ST60 and VT60...

      Thanx a lot for your help
      Best regards
      Enrique
    18. Ossie77

      Ossie77 Member

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      What viewing distance would people recommend for the 42" ST60? Thanks very much.
    19. gav_sw20

      gav_sw20 Member

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      6'4" is the recommended distance - Recommended TV Viewing Distance Chart | Toshiba Research Center | Toshiba

      Try and make a template out of cardboard of the size you think you want...then go bigger :)

      I've known people with 65" tv's but change them to 55" as they don't suit the wall layout.
    20. Scooby2000

      Scooby2000 Well-Known Member

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      Are you the chap sitting 3m away? I would go min 50" at that distance.
      If its mainly for SD then 42" would be good but for gaming and movies Id go bigger especially for HD, at 3m HD is pointless on a 42" resolution wise IMO.
    21. audiphile76

      audiphile76 Active Member

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      Have had the 50ST60E for over 2 months now, watching from 3 meters mostly SD. Now it feels like i should've could've would've got a bigger set. I used to watch from a 42 inch plasma, not too long ago :eek: and i am pretty sure its not my eyesight :D
    22. Nostromo71

      Nostromo71 Member

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      I upgraded from a 42", and originally I intended on moving up to a 50" screen, but after seeing a 55" screen, I knew I'd regret going with the 50", so went with the 55ST60, and I'm really glad I did, as even with the 55" screen, both myself and my wife quite often find ourselves saying 'We should have got a 60" :laugh:
    23. a.wiseman

      a.wiseman Member

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      I bought this at the end of 2013 after giving up on a 46" Samsung F6500 that had dark corners.

      It's a great set loved by owners and reviewers alike, but I have an issue with mine: it produces some kind of flicker. You only notice it with large patches of the same colour - the worst culprit being the mostly white "ITV Studios" caption you see at the end of ITV's programmes. But it's also visible in the set's EPG, especially if you press "i" for more info, which brings up a big white rectangle.

      I've tried adjusting the settings to no avail. (Although changing the gamma to S-line does hide it a little.) I've removed all cables apart from the electricity cable, moved speakers away from the set and given the set its own plug socket - but the effect is still there.

      So perhaps I have a faulty set? Or perhaps I'm just more sensitive to flicker than some? It could be the settings, but it's apparent in all picture modes. (I'm using True Cinema mostly.) Is this just one of those plasma features? The Samsung I owned previously had a 400 Hz screen and there was absolutely no flicker on anything...
    24. mattmeer

      mattmeer Member

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      Hi,

      I just got this tv and am happy with it.

      I just wonder if the built-in mediaplayer plays movies unaltered? The only thing I noticed is that it plays 24p movies at 60hz, but my standalone panasonic bluray player does that aswell. (I rip bluray movies at my pc before anyone asks to remove all trailers)
    25. luvadealme

      luvadealme Member

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      where did you get yours from out of interest?
  • Screen

    Display Plasma
    Display Format 1080p Full HD
    Screen Size 42 In
    Resolution 1920 x 1080 Pixels
    1080p24 Support Yes
    Claimed Contrast Ratio Infinite Black Pro
    3D Technology Active
    Refresh Rate 2500 Hz
    Aspect Ratio 16:9

    Digital-TV

    Tuner Freeview
    Freeview HD
    EPG Yes

    Features

    3D Accessories Active Glasses
    Smart TV Yes
    Smart TV Features DLNA
    Skype Ready
    Video on Demand Access
    Media Player
    Web Browser
    Remote App
    File Formats WMV9
    MKV
    AVCHD
    AVI
    MP4
    M4V
    WAV
    FLV
    WMA
    MP3
    AAC
    JPEG
    MPO

    Sound

    Speakers Stereo with Subwoofer
    Speaker Output 20 Watts
    Supported Sound Formats DSP Sound Features

    Product Properties

    Energy Efficiency Class C
    Power Consumption 290W
    Power Consumption (Standby) 0.37W
    Release Year 2013
    Warranty 12 Months
    Screen Size 107 cm
    Width (With Stand) 994 mm
    Height (With Stand) 650 mm
    Depth (With Stand) 256 mm
    Weight 20 Kg
    Width (Without Stand) 994 mm
    Height (Without Stand) 596 mm
    Depth (Without Stand) 49 mm

    Connections

    HDMI Type HDMI
    HDMI with ARC
    HDMI 1.4
    HDMI Inputs 3
    Scart Connections 1
    Component Inputs 1
    USB Ports 1
    SD Card Slots 1
    Common Interface Slot Yes
    Ethernet Port Yes
    Digital Audio Out Yes
    Headphone Socket Yes
    Wi-Fi Built-in
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    Oct 31, 2013

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