Don't let its price entice you, though. The X60 produces washed out colors, suffers from color banding, and boasts a wholly unimpressive contrast ratio. A $549 MSRP is no reason to settle for poor picture quality. Avoid this TV unless it's really discounted.

As the saying goes: You get what you pay for.

By 50-inch plasma standards, the X60 is quite cheap, and that aspect is reflected in its design. Plain black bezels and a traditionalist stand comprise this TV's appearance. It's neither ugly nor attractive, and sort of just blends into the background.

From a functionality standpoint, the X60 sports just the bare minimum in ports and design features, but it's a setup that works, at the end of the day.

From a functionality standpoint, the X60 sports just the bare minimum in ports and design features, but it's a setup that works, at the end of the day. The rear side of the X60's chassis houses two HDMI inputs, a shared component/composite input, an RF jack, and digital audio out. On the side is a single USB input.

In the box, you'll find a very simplified remote control. This black plastic wand is a shorter version of the button-bursting device that ships with higher-end Panasonics. There's nothing too unexpected here: Buttons for power, volume, channel, USB playback, the settings menu, and a 1-9 number pad are pretty common sights. Really, there's nothing that's going to surprise anyone about the X60's design.

Looking Further

Basic menus and features, with blocky 720p letters

Something I noticed right away with this TV is that—in certain scenarios—its 720p resolution is a big drawback. The X60 series comes in two screen sizes: 42 and 50 inches. While it may not be as much of a problem on the 42-inch, our 50-inch test unit's menus and on-screen text look blocky and stair-stepped.

Our 50-inch test unit's menus and on-screen text look blocky and stair-stepped.

Within these blocky menus, you'll find totally basic controls. The X60's Picture settings, for example, only contain controls for Contrast, Brightness, Color, and Tint. C.A.T.S. (Contrast Automatic Tracking System) is included, but this isn't exactly a fancy feast of options.

The one extra feature the X60 allows is USB playback of photos, music, and video. This function works as it should, although taking the time to actually put photos on a flash drive to watch them on this TV seems a little bit far fetched. Photos display in single or slideshow format, and users can play music in the background. Maybe it's one of those things that's better in person.

Looking Further

Surprisingly poor picture performance

So far this year, Panasonic's been knocking 'em out of the park. That's why I'm so surprised to find that the X60 is a foul ball. Poor contrast, the wrong colors, and imbalanced dynamics are one, two, three strikes against it. You're better off buying cracker jacks.

The X60 suffers from the usual problem attributed to plasma TVs: it's really dim.

Considering Panasonic's high-end plasmas have tested with some of the largest contrast ratios I've ever seen, I was thinking this one would at least be on par with the decent plasmas from last year. Its black level is just okay. Plus, the X60 suffers from the usual problem attributed to plasma TVs: it's really dim.

What's worse, its colors are washed out and faded. Red and green are both much less vibrant than they ought to be, which is going to alter cyan and magenta hues as well. The colors combine into an uneven, bumpy grayscale that jumps in luminance values much too erratically to make for comfortable watching.

This TV's one good quality? A huge viewing angle. Yeah, I think I'll pass.

A black mark on Panasonic's record

All of the other Panasonic plasmas I've tested this year (almost all of them at this point) have been relatively excellent TVs. The X60 is something of a black sheep, in that it has very little to redeem it; neither appearance, nor performance, nor software are commendable in any way.

While it might be tempting to go in on a 50-inch plasma that's only a little over $500, we'd really recommend holding off or spending a little more on the next series up. This TV might be a steal if it were on sale, but don't pay full price expecting the flash and sizzle of a powerful new TV.
Last year's X50 was a 720p HDTV with great color and contrast. The X60 is not. While the resolution is the same, this plasma's colors are washed out, and its contrast ratio is crushingly narrow; black and white elements have no room to breathe. Its one claim to fame is a huge viewing angle.

This entry-level plasma has a high-end viewing angle

Most people don't consider horizontal viewing angle to be a big part of a TV's performance, but in the real world, it is. A huge contrast ratio and correct color don't matter much if you can only see them from one part of the room. Fortunately, the X60's viewing angle is outstanding.

P5000-handling-front.jpg

The P50X60 purports a full 178° of viewing; its contrast and color remain consistent and evenly parsed from any (normal) viewing position.

A sad result for the ZT60's vassal

If the Panasonic ZT60 (CR: 28,000:1) is the king of black/white dynamics, the X60 is like that one vassal who just can't keep the warring ogre clan out of its castle. We tested a piddly contrast ratio of 1959:1, which is quite narrow by 2013 plasma standards.

P5000-handling-front.jpg

This one-horse road ratio is the direct result of a dim peak brightness and a mediocre black level (for a Panasonic plasma). We tested a black level of 0.036 cd/m2 and a 20% APL brightness of 70.50 cd/m2 , both of which are poor.

Undersaturated colors just ain't no fun

Color saturation refers to how "colorful" a given color is. Anyone who's done a lot of laundry can attest to the way colors fade over time. Well, the X60 suffers from undersaturated greens and reds, which are the colors our human eyes are most responsive to. The X60's gamut does not cover enough of the NTSC color space to be corrected by a calibrator, either.

This TV also tested with poor color curves. Its green curve describes the ideal rate of luminance (gamma), but its grayscale describes an odd, inverted knee, adding too much light to upper-mid grays, which will unbalance your picture. The blue curve is also very bumpy, meaning it can't really decide which luminance it wants to adhere to.

As for maintaining a consistent color temperature, the X60 is just fine, but it reaches D65 (or close to it) by unbalancing the way it manages the value and hue of colors. Unfortunately, that's a no-no, even if it looks right on paper.

Meet the testers

Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor

@Koanshark

Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews
Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor

@Koanshark

Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews

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