This is NOT a review of my recent purchase, but instead some impressions.
For those who haven’t been to Speakout for the past couple of days, I purchased my first big TV on Wednesday (it’s actually the biggest thing I’ve purchased so far) upgrading from a late 90’s 60” CRT Toshiba TheaterView to a 2013 60” Panasonic ST60, Panasonic’s mid-range, not too high, but not cheap, line. I’ve been wanting a new TV for a couple of years now, but kept holding off to build up money in order to buy something worthwhile and not a cheap piece of poo.
And I have never been more torn in my life.
It’s a near perfect TV. Beautiful even. The screen is amazing, colors pop, there’s no ghosting, blacks are dark and ink like. Panasonic knows color, everything from Mario to Uncharted to Resident Evil 6 to Sonic pops and it’s a rainbowgasm and I love it. I can’t even show it in pictures, it’s a see it in person kind of thing. Having great experiences with previous Panasonic plasma TV’s, I expected the same from my purchase. 60” at $1499.99 with 24 months no interest, which I plan on paying off by years end, what’s not to like?
Even in the promotional trailer, they mention it being perfect for games.
I had went into the store planning on buying either the 55” Sony W802A or 60” Sony R55A, after doing months of research over LCD/LED vs Plasma, Hz wars, etc. The Best Buy manager of the TV department, who I really do believe knew his stuff (also a fellow gamer) guaranteed me he could find me a better TV with similar if not better specs and a size I would like, which is when I met the 60ST60. I read reviews about it, it even got 5 stars from CNET, but I overlooked the input lag ordeal that seems to be this TV’s only flaw; the alluring woman who is amazingly beautiful, but she the worst sounding, dry smoker voice.
It’s a bitter sweet affair. I had tried to overlook it, even thought I was crazy and getting used to the newness of it all, but alas. Input lag sucks, and it seems like current TV’s of all types suffer from it, even if it has a “Game Mode” option (which the ST60 does). Plasma, LCD/LED, etc. The only TV’s that truly has no input lag are old CRT sets that, as we know, have been same as abandoned by every manufacturer who’s worth a damn in favor of Plasma, LCD/LED, etc. It’s either that or some computer monitors, and I say go big or go home. Playing my favorites games on a 60″ screen in glory is better than on a 15″ monitor. It’s not comparable in the slightest.
This TV would be perfect for movies and watching regular programming, which I do, but I’d say I play games 90% of the time when I do use a TV.
Browsing around the internet, there’s some interesting things about this 2013 ST60 model. The European counterpart, has far less input lag than the North American equivalent, which is very odd. It’s also the first time that Panasonic’s plasmas, considered some of the best in the field, have been testing bad for input lag after years of acceptable results.
To put into perspective, here’s what it’s testing out at:
Even with Game Mode on and off and messing with various settings, various people have reported 75 ms (milliseconds) with the lag testing device and 47-62 ms with the timer/photo method.
I still have 28 days to return it, and I’ll keep messing with every option it allows me to, but so far it seems to depend on the game. Older games, some work, others don’t. There’s a delay, but you can grow accustomed to it in a few minutes, but it’s still bothersome to me, since with my previous set, the Toshiba TheaterView, I’ve been playing it since I was elementary school, with the PS1 and N64, up until Tuesday night. She was a dear friend, and while not HD, had her perks.
I’m really wondering, maybe, if a firmware view might help this TV. With it being a “smart” TV, it feels the need to have all of these services running in the background, which is pointless to me, because if you’re using the TV for mostly game consoles, you have something far superior already. I have my phone for checking weather, laptop for web browsing and consoles for rounding everything else out that no “smart” aspect of a TV could even hold a candle to. I feel like that VieraConnect is eating up resources that could otherwise be used for picture settings, but I could be way off (I don’t know that much about TV’s like I do, say, video games).
I’m honestly not that crazy for active 3D (shutter glasses), it makes my eyes feel funky, and while all of these advanced motion options sound nice, they do absolutely no good for games. The soap opera effect only looks good for specific movies and TV shows, but actually makes some action scenes look worse, because if it was meant to look slow-mo and with blur, it looks like crap and corny with settings making it faster.
If I was to take the TV back, I wonder if Best Buy would let me get another TV and pay the difference if it was a little bit more. I’ll happily pay the difference in order to truly feel more control of my games again, because this noticeable input lag requires you to relearn how to play a lot of games again. And while it’s possible, it’s just not that fun.
I really hate it. It makes me sick. Not the TV, because it’s almost perfect, but it has one glaring flaw that is fairly noticeable input lag and it makes me both disappointed and sad. Damn you, technology. Seriously.
For a close, I’m going to leave you with a more detailed analysis by AVS Forum member Moonchilde:
Ok, so, I re-ran my tests tonight. The reason is because I got in the mail today a DVI to HDMI adapter so that I could dual DVI out instead of having one monitor connected to DVI and one monitor HDMI. The adapter will not add any additional lag because it simply acts as a pass through for the digital signal from the DVI-I out through the HDMI cable to the TV. And… sadly it made NO difference. The test results are still the same. The plasma is still 5 frames behind my CRT on game mode. Some good news though:
HDMI Content settings do not create any additional lag. This is good because everyone should have their HDMI Content set to Photos. Why? Because if you use 1080p Direct, it defeats the edge contouring (the halos everyone hates) that mode seems to automatically enable. I also found that when the TV scales content, such as a PC resolution of 1024×768, the scaling would enable that same edge contouring everyone hates from 1080p Direct. Of course, as HDMI Content Photos defeats it in 1080p Direct, it also defeats it during scaling modes. This is something I didn’t test before, and wanted to see how it affected the TV.
So my advice is, that for any 2013 Panny, enabled Photos mode always as it is best for the TV when it switches resolutions to match the video content.
The only drawback is that Photos mode disables Color Gamut options in the Pro menu, however I don’t think this is a problem since Photos looks more like Normal which is a more accurate mode than Native. I haven’t used my meter to measure it though, so I can’t be 100% sure.
Again, I tested 1080p Direct to double check the lag it adds on, and it only adds 1 frame of lag, not 100 ms like earlier claims or 50 ms like some other claims. Just like my previous 1080p Direct test. I’m happy to say 1080p Direct isn’t a really big deal like everyone was initially worried about, because the test results have been repeatable in a controlled testing environment.
One more thing I was able to test this time that I simply ignored to test before. Testing other picture modes such as Vivid which disable the Pro CMS settings used in Cinema and Custom. I’m happy to say, the CMS is NOT adding any additional lag. The non-CMS modes are the same 5 frames of input lag as the CMS modes are with Game Mode set to on.
Every other processing elements were turned off. I’ve even gone so far as to disconnect the Wireless Network USB card from the set. Nothing makes a difference other than adding on Motion Smoothing, which only adds 1 frame of lag on a setting of Strong.
The native input lag of the TV is 6 frames. Motion smoothing will add 1 frame. 1080p Direct will add 1 frame. Turning on Game Mode will subtract a frame. The lowest you can get the set compared to a CRT is 5 frames.
I have to say, I think I’ve successfully ruled out every possible element of error from my tests besides going to the point of testing with a Leo Bodnar device. I really don’t think the LB is going to be any better, in fact I’m thinking it’s probably going to be worse.
I cannot recommend this TV for gamers.