What is the Panasonic TX-P42ST60?
Design and Connections
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.
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.
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.
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 ProcessingIt 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 PerformanceAbout 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.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 243W
- Calibrated – True Cinema Mode: 141W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 221W
Panasonic TX-P42ST60 Picture Quality 2D
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.
Panasonic TX-P42ST60 Picture Quality 3D
- 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
- Too laggy for gamers
- 3D is better on the more expensive Viera plasmas
- We're running out of superlatives
Panasonic TX-P42ST60 (ST60) Plasma TV Review
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?
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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