If you’re like us, you have a long list of gear you’d love to own. But reality (almost) always steps in, along with bank accounts and eagle-eyed spouses, leaving your gadget desires unfulfilled. What’s a guy to do? Gear Patrol’s series “Want This, Get This” presents a lust-worthy piece of gear along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch.
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Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD
Pioneer’s 2009 decision to exit the television business and end production of their Kuro line of TVs (aptly named after the Japanese word for black) will forever be etched into the minds of videophiles. The inky blacks of the Kuro Elite models in particular were miles beyond the competition and remained unmatched for years after production came to a halt. Sharp offered a glimmer of hope in 2011 when they announced they had licensed the Pioneer Elite brand name and would be introducing a new line of premium TVs to the market boasting similarly monolithic exteriors. These reborn Elites bare little resemblance to their predecessors from a technology standpoint, however, opting for Sharp’s full-array local dimming LED technology rather than plasma. The results are equally impressive, though, finally matching those of the original Kuro while adding a new massive 70-inch screen size, advanced features like 3D and vastly improved energy efficiency.
True to their branding, Sharp established a new bar for LED displays for those nuts who would gladly pay $6k or more for a television simply to own the best. Given their aging status, prices have come somewhat back down to earth. Still, the value proposition is poor compared to the rest of the advancing market. Such is the life of premium luxury goods. Anyone seriously considering this screen could probably care less.or
Panasonic TC-PST60 Series
This newly released set from Panasonic is easily the best value in the TV market today — nearly matching, and in some cases besting, picture quality specs of televisions twice the price. In fact, its exceedingly deep blacks are darker than every other television produced by Panasonic last year, save its flagship, which the TC-PST60 Series essentially matches anyway. As we’ve come to expect from Panasonic, color accuracy and shadow detail are also superb. Combined with a sleek new frame design and stand, it’s an exceptional product for the price; small wonder a respected expert like David Katzmaier named it a CNET editor’s choice award winner.
But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Panasonic does shoot itself in the foot by having a banner ad appear to viewers for a moment as the TV turns on. It also displays the set’s Smart TV features screen by default, rather than the last input you were watching. These are serious annoyances, but both can thankfully be turned off through a bit of menu digging. 3D performance is also subpar, but this is only problematic if you’re one of the few viewers actually watching that kind of content at home.
All of these quibbles are small distractions compared to the TC-PST60 Series’ big beautiful picture. At $1,300, the 55-inch model hits a sweet spot for size and price. Shelling out $300 more will get you the 60-inch beast if you must match the screen real estate of the Sharp Elite that once occupied your less-informed day dreams.