Panasonic's New Plasmas Are Built for the 99 Percent

Sure, you can spend $6,000 (or more) for a top-of-the-line HDTV with more bells and whistles than you can shake a remote at. But if you're on a budget, Panasonic's newest line of plasma HDTV's offer top-flight features for bargain-bin prices.

Panasonic's ST, VT, and GT-series plasma displays each offer the Infinite Black Pro panel. This generates deeper, truer blacks than what other monitors can achieve. They also feature a new Louver Filter that tweaks the display's brightness in accordance with the amount of ambient light in the room as well as a 2500 Focus Field Drive that smooths out the screen resolution during fast-moving action sequences. They'll also include Wi-Fi connectivity, a given by today's standards, but not an available feature on last year's models.

Also cool is the Viera Connect system. Instead of downloading individual apps like Netflix, NHL League Pass, or Pandora, directly to the monitor itself, Viera Connect uses a cloud-based architecture to store a potentially unlimited number of apps. The current lineup of apps also include Amazon VOD, You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, Bloomberg News, AP, Wall Street Journal, Accuweather, Skype, Wealth TV, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, Fox Sports, MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS2. They will reportedly also feature a Twitter ticker which should come in handy for compulsive social-media types (*raises hand*).

The flagship VT series will be available in 55-inch and 65-inch varieties. Stepping up, the GT series will come in 50, 55, 60, and 65-inch versions, as will the introductory ST-series. Prices and availability have not yet been announced, but if they're anywhere close to last year's price point (the ST's came in under $1000) they'll give Vizio some real competition. [CNET 1, 2, 3 via Wirecutter]