Short of actually owning a product, the best way to get a feel for it is by seeing it in action. That is especially true of televisions—but these days, it's hard to truly get hands-on, even in a big box retailer. The reason for this is simple: Today's televisions are more complex than ever before. Between manufacturers, the differences in smart, 3D, software, processor, and screen functionality are as pronounced as those between Mordor and the Shire.
While we've been objectively reviewing TVs—and translating our scientific findings—for years, we're always looking for a better way to get our readers up close and personal with the televisions they love, are curious about, or are thinking of buying. That's why, starting with Panasonic's much-vaunted VT60 series, we'll be running a new feature over the remainder of the year: The Hands-On series will see us looking past the hard data at what it's like to own and use a particular TV.
The VT60 is severely heavy, but is easy to assemble otherwise.
The 60-inch VT60 is very, very heavy. Each side of the box has two hand grips, and moving it more than a few feet at a time with two people is a tiring process; really, I don't think you could get it up a set of stairs with just two people, unless they were particularly strong. Like most TVs, the VT60 is shipped in a top-sealed box with removable sealing pegs on the bottom. It's much easier to remove these and then lift out the panel, stand, and accessories. We went the harder route and opened the top of the box, removing everything over the height of the box itself. I don't recommend doing it that way, but we were too excited to get the TV assembled.
There's a lot in the box. The panel itself, the stand (which is really, really heavy), two remotes with batteries, a manual, a warranty card, two pairs of 3D glasses, and the usual fifty pounds of plastic and styrofoam. All of this is wrapped in plastic and taped to the bottom of the box, so it can't be "got at" 'til the panel and stand are out of the way. We laid the VT60 face-down on a flat surface, making sure only the bezels touched the table—putting no pressure on the panel.
From here, we recommend following the manual for assembling and attaching the stand. The VT60 comes with 9 screws: 8 longer ones, and 1 small one. The black-and-white diagrams within the first few pages of the manual were a little obscure, but anyone who's assembled something from IKEA can cobble this plasma together with little trouble.
After we assembled the stand, it easily fit into the opening on the back of the panel. The whole process took less than 10 minutes, and is easy enough to figure out—even without following the sketches in the manual. Remember: This TV and its stand are incredibly heavy. If you purchase the 60-inch VT60 (or 65-inch), you'll want at least two people to help with assembly/lifting. Now that our high-end plasma is assembled, it's time for the fun stuff!