LAS VEGAS--There are still going to be three makers of plasma TVs in 2013 -- LG, Samsung, and Panasonic -- but the only one going all-out for the display technology is Panasonic.
The company has announced five full series of plasma TVs, and here they are in a nutshell.
Panasonic's press conference packs plasmas, wireless speakers, and bone-conducting headphones (pictures)
- TC-PZT60 series (65 and 60 inches) Panasonic's 2013 flagship promises "Beyond the Reference" picture quality, with an all-new Studio Master panel that has the thinnest gas layer yet, which the company says will remove dim and double images. There's a newly developed red phosphor, faster switching than ever, THX certification for both 2D and 3D, and improved 3D performance -- namely less crosstalk -- according to Panasonic. I called the VT50 the best TV of 2012 and one of the best ever, and I expect great things from the ZT60's picture.
- TC-PVT60 series (55, 60, 65 inches) Numerically this one looks like the successor to the VT50, and I expect it to have similar picture quality. The only mentions of picture quality in Panasonic's early press release are THX certification and better motion resolution than the 2012 version.
- TC-PST60 series (50, 55, 60, 65 inches) In name and feature set, Panasonic's cheapest 3D-capable plasma series looks like the successor to our favorite TV of 2012, the Panasonic ST50. It has an Infinite Black Pro panel and might not quite match the motion resolution of the VT and ZT models (it has a "2500 Focused Field Drive" versus their 3000), nor their black-level performance, but should still be pretty great. As with the other two 3D series, the company is also including two pairs of active 3D glasses. Pricing was not announced, and it'll be interesting to see whether this series can match the excellent value of its predecessor.
- TC-PS60 series (42, 50, 55, 60, 65 inches) In Panasonic's 1080p non-3D series, I expect the picture quality to match that of the excellent U50 models, which were also great values.
- TC-PX60 series (42 and 50 inches) This looks like a clone of last year's X5 series, which was disappointing, to say the least.
The company also touted a few new features this year, such as Voice Control and an improved touch-pad controller on the ZT60 and VT60 models and an optional Touch Pen (not included) that works only with the ZT60. The ST60 gets "voice guidance." Of course the Viera Connect suite of Smart TV services is still onboard.
In addition to plasma, the company also announced a number of LCD series. Check out our write-ups of the TC-LWT60 series and TC-LDT60 series. The company also released eight step-down models in three "E" series.