With Panasonic’s new Viera E60 family of connected LED-backlit HDTVs you get many of the features found on high-end models at a price that won’t strain your budget. The TC-L58E60 reviewed here carries a list price of $1,499.99 and features a large 58-inch screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, wired and wireless networking, a good selection of Web services, and a streamlined cabinet design. But it’s not without flaws; greens and blues are oversaturated and there are traces of blooming when the background is dark.
Design and Features
As with the Editors’ Choice Panasonic TC-L55ET60, the TC-L58E60′s cabinet is stylishly thin (1.4 inches) and is ably supported by a rigid rectangular stand. The 1,920-by-1,080-pixel panel is framed by razor-thin black bezels on all sides, and there’s a strip of clear plastic beneath the bottom bezel that holds an ambient light sensor, a remote sensor, and a power indicator.
The TC-L58E60 only has three HDMI ports, whereas most big-screen TVs offer at least four, and sometimes five. They are mounted at the rear of the cabinet facing outward along with a set of shared component and composite AV jacks, an Ethernet port, a digital audio output, and a cable/antenna jack. Two USB ports are close by, facing left. A set of basic controls sit on the right edge of the screen.
In addition to wired Ethernet the E60 offers built-in Wi-Fi. Web services are plentiful and include streaming apps from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and CinemaNow. Social networking apps, including Skype, Facebook, and Twitter, are also part of the package, as are a handful of Playjam games and Panasonic’s own Viera Connect Market shopping service.
The E60 uses the same remote as the ET60 with one exception; a sleep button takes the place of a 3D button (this set is not 3D-capable). The matte black wand is 8.5 inches long and has 43 buttons, four arrow keys, an Apps button, and a dedicated Netflix button. The Home button brings you to the My Home screen where you can create customized menus for each member of the family by populating it with their favorite apps and photo, video, and music selections.
The basic picture settings menu offers the usual brightness, contrast, color temperature, tint, and backlight adjustments as well as Vivid Color (enhanced greens and blues), A.I. Picture (enhances dark areas without changing black level or brightness), and five picture presets (Vivid, Standard, Home Theater, Cinema, and Custom). The Pro settings menu lets you adjust black level gradation, fine tune white point levels in reds, greens, and blues, tweak RGB hue, saturation, and luminance levels, and adjust gamma settings. Advanced settings include an optimized game mode, 3:2 pulldown (reduces judder in film-based content), light and dark black levels, and HDMI range settings.
The TC-L58E60 comes with a standard one-year warranty that can be extended to three years for an additional $129.99, or to four years for an additional $169.99.
The TC-L58E60 performed well on some tests and not so well on others. It produced a nice peak brightness of 353.50 cd/m2 and a solid black level reading of 0.0137 cd/m2 as measured with a Klein K10-A colorimeter and patterns from the DisplayMate HDTV diagnostic suite. The resulting 25,802:1 contrast ratio is very good for a budget HDTV and rivals some of the more expensive models, including the Sunbrite 5560 HD (32,881:1). The lofty contrast ratio provided excellent shadow detail in the Ocean Deep episode of the BBC’s Planet Earth on Blu-ray, particularly in the darker underwater sequences.
However, color accuracy wasn’t quite up to par. As shown in the CIE color chart above, reds were pretty close to perfect but greens and blues were oversaturated (the closer each dot is to its corresponding box the more accurate the color). The heavy colors didn’t present a serious tinting issue but the picture ran a little cool.
I observed minor backlight blooming from time to time but not to the point of distraction and only against a very dark background. The panel’s 120Hz refresh rate provided smooth motion handling while I watched NBA basketball and PGA golf on ESPN. Off-axis viewing was good for a budget-class HDTV; the screen remained bright from any angle and image detail stayed sharp.
The E60 consumed 126 watts of power during testing while set to standard mode. In cinema mode that number dropped to 76 watts. Better yet, enabling Eco mode reduced power usage to just 57 watts without causing the picture to appear too dim. That’s more energy efficient than the slightly smaller LG 55LM6700 (67 watts).
The Panasonic TC-LE60 series has a lot going for it. For just under $1,500, you get a bright 58-inch LED backlit screen that delivers a high contrast ratio and wide viewing angles. It also offers a solid feature set including wired and wireless Ethernet, numerous Web services, and a 120Hz refresh rate. It does exhibit a touch of backlight bloom, however, and its out of the box color accuracy is not ideal; calibrating the panel would likely resolve the latter. This set is a good option for 2D, but if you’re a fan of 3D content, consider our Editors’ Choice for midrange HDTVs, the 55-inch Panasonic TC-L55ET60. It’ll cost you a couple of hundred dollars more and is a bit smaller than the TC-L58E60, but it comes with two sets of 3D glasses and is a solid performer.
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI, USB|
|Diagonal Screen Size||58 inches|
|Pixel Refresh Rate Speed||120Hz|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc