338 of 349 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best 50" picture quality in the U.S.
With SONY and JVC no longer manufacturing their phenomenal high-end CRT HDTVs, and Pioneer out of the Plasma business, the pursuit of picture quality is not as simple as it once was. Rest assured, however, that there are still a handful of manufacturers (i.e. Panasonic, Samsung, LG, ...) still investing in Plasma technology, because LCD is a giant leap backwards in terms...
Published on June 7, 2011 by Andon M. Coleman
140 of 154 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful picture that's spoiled by fluctuating brightness
There is a lot to like about this TV. It has nice aesthetics. There are plenty of inputs and connectivity. Unfortunately there are some things that are not so great and one that is a deal breaker for me.
The over-all design and build is solid. Some TVs have a weak and even flimsy feel to them, but not this Panasonic.
The screen is very nice and...
Published on May 10, 2011 by Bill
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338 of 349 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best 50" picture quality in the U.S.,
Viera Size Segmentation (VT30 vs. GT30 vs. ST30)
I was in the market for a VT30 this year... however, in the United States, Panasonic's size options are quite restrictive. In Europe, all lines of plasma from the X up to VT are available in 42", which is the perfect size for me.
In the United States, each of the 3D model lines has a different starting size:
VT30: 55" - 65" (Industry leading black level, less buzzing, better speakers, 96 Hz mode for 24p, ISF calibration, ...)
GT30: 50" - 65" (Better black level, +1 HDMI port and VGA input, THX certified)
ST30: 42" - 65" (Entry-level 3D TV)
S30: 42" - 60" (1080p 2D plasma, worse motion clarity than ST30 and no 3D support)
X3: 42" - 50" (720p 2D plasma)
Unfortunately, I can barely fit a 50" TV where I have my GT30. I made the conscious choice of buying a TV slightly larger than I would have liked, because the GT30 buys you THX mode (which does a _really_ good job with skintones), an extra HDMI port, and a slightly lower black level than the ST30.
Getting back to picture quality, I have a SONY Super Fine Pitch FD Trinitron (CRT) set in my bedroom that I use as a benchmark for image quality.
The GT30 does not have the pure black level or white performance of the CRT (or even many local dimming LCDs). However, color accuracy and black gradiation (i.e. being able to see fine details in shadowed scenes) are actually better than my calibrated CRT.
Unenhanced motion clarity is indistinguishable between the two sets, and the GT30 earns a lot in this respect when it comes to displaying 24 fps material (48 Hz mode causes flickering, but even with simple 3:2 pull-down, the TV displays 24p video well).
Panasonic has added a more advanced Motion Smoother this year, with two levels - it creates artificial motion enhancement similar to LCD 120/240 Hz, and therefore has limited appeal.
Typically I do not care about the physical appearance of a television (which is why I still prefer high-end CRTs to flat panels), but the design of this TV is definitely worth mentioning... compared to last year's GT25 model, this TV is lightyears ahead.
The bezel has been shrunken on all sides of the panel, and the depth is equally impressive. Were it not for the speakers, and clunky stand, this TV would be about an inch deep. As a result, the television requires "break out" cables to attach analog audio/video devices, and the total number of analog inputs has been reduced to 3 (Component, Composite and VGA D-Sub). This does not bother me at all, since the only analog device I have connected to any of my TVs is a Nintendo Wii. The extra HDMI port more than makes up for it.
I would also like to give kudos to Panasonic for putting the power button on the FRONT of the TV this year (it was on the side last year).
Long-term Value (Viera Connect)
Viera Connect is a promising new feature for 2011, that is essentially an evolution of Viera Cast.
Consumers can look forward to a growing software base in the future (as Software Engineers like myself develop software for the new open platform). The beauty of this new platform is that it operates independantly of official firmware release schedules. This is important, because firmware updates for aging products are few and far between - 2010 and older Viera models will likely NEVER receive support for Hulu, etc...
With this TV, two or three years from now, consumers can still download new or updated Viera Connect applications from the Viera Connect marketplace. Another thing I found nice about Viera Connect's marketplace, is that you can buy TV accessories (such as 3D glasses, SD cards, etc...) directly from software built-in to the TV, and rest assured that the product is compatible with your particular model.
Sound quality leaves room for improvement. This being the second-to-highest model from Panasonic, lacks the sub-woofer and higher quality speakers found on the VT line.
Adding insult to injury, US Viera televisions do not have analog audio out, so to improve the audio quality you must connect them to an A/V receiver (which also draws a lot of power) that supports optical S/PDIF.
In future years, I hope that Panasonic will consider improving the sound quality on the GT line.
Power consumption is good, but definitely not great. This is the only performance measurement that local dimming LED backlight LCDs come out on top in. That said, Panasonic has redesigned the construction of their panels this year, to improve phosphor response time (reduces 3D cross-talk), and improve luminous efficiency. Remember that this TV uses tinted 3D glasses, which darkens the picture... so brightness is important in 3D.
As a result, brightness is up, and power consumption is down vs. last year's model. Unfortunately, one consequence of the new design is "fluctuating brightness," which occurs when the TV transitions from a bright scene to a dark scene - in extreme cases, it can take the TV multiple frames to recognize the change in brightness and adjust its image processing. This was irritating at first, but I hardly notice it anymore.
On a final note, I have noticed a lot of people complaining about plasma buzz. I feel obligated to point out that the buzz is especially bad within the first 100-200 hours of operation, and decreases somewhat over time.
There are a number of factors that play into the buzzing, including altitude, viewing distance and picture settings. Granted operating altitude is not easy to change, but the buzzing can be reduced by sitting farther from the TV set, and dialing down the contrast setting (buzzing is directly related to how bright an image is).
A lot of people have TVs too large for their viewing distance and have contrast set way too high, and only ever realize it when plasma buzzing or dithering becomes a nusiance.
Pros and Cons
Plasma image quality
* Pure black level is not as good as CRT or local dimming LCD, but...
images with light and dark areas really shine
--> No blooming between nearby light and dark areas (LCD)
--> No image geometry warping related to brightness (CRT)
* Excellent motion clarity without artificial techniques like 120/240 Hz
* Accurate skintones
* Almost no picture setting tweaks required to get exceptionally good image quality
Consistent black level
* Panasonic claims that the black level will not rise after 1000+ hours of operation with 2011 models, due to manufacturing changes.
Power consumption vs. Screen brightness SIGNIFICANTLY improved over 2010 models
* In fact, it is so good that the 50" GT30 actually qualifies for Energy Star 4.0
* New in 2011, free/paid applications can be downloaded through the TV and the selection of applications will grow over time.
Viera model lines segmented by size in the US
* Could mean buying a TV that is too large
Average speaker quality on ST30/GT30
* US Viera models do not have analog audio out
--> Requires a dedicated power-hungry A/V receiver to improve on TV's speakers...
* Improved in 2011, but still nowhere near local dimming LCD performance
* Movie enthusiasts may find the delay in bright image processing frustrating...
--> I have found the issue has almost no negative impact on gaming performance, or general TV viewing.
* Given the state of the Netflix app on Viera Connect as of June 2011, audio noticably stutters...
--> Mitigated by the fact that Viera Connect will allow users to download an updated version of the
Netflix app whenever the bug is fixed.
For those who are interested, I have had my GT30 professionally calibrated in THX mode.
If you do not want to shell out $300+ to schedule a calibration on your set, but still want the best picture quality possible, the most important thing you can do is dial the color setting down to around 45. The default THX settings over saturate colors, and if you become used to the over saturated colors, you will never appreciate the advantages of a properly calibrated THX mode. Also, do not use C.A.T.S.! If you have a viewing environment that has varying levels of external light, you would be much better off maintaining two sets of picture settings. In my case, between night and day, all I need to do is adjust my contrast from 60 to 45. C.A.T.S. can detect differences in brightness, but it messes with more than just the white level.
You may be tempted to set the Black Level setting in "Advanced picture" properties to dark because it looks more natural, but this causes black crushing (loss of detail in dark video). Try to learn to live with lighter blacks (this can be especially difficult if you are used to high-end CRTs) and you will begin to appreciate the amazing black performance of Plasma technology.
77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable Picture,
1080P Source Material with a high bitrate (such as blurays or Vudu HDX) look incredibly sharp and stunning, while not looking sharp to the point of unrealism as some LCD's look. 720P sources look very good as well if a bit softer. 480i/p sources look alright. I only spent a few minutes watching SD and the experience was unexpectedly unimpressive. Motion on the GT30 looks very smooth and realistic without displaying the terrible "soap opera effect" that 120/240Hz LCD's seem to suffer from.
I tried using the Viera Cast software that Panasonic builds into these Tv's and I found to be pretty laggy. It wasn't very responsive and I found the design to be a little on the ugly side. Vizio and Samsung have much more polished media platforms built into their Tvs. It's possible Panasonic will improve performance with firmware updates in the future. If I was planning on using Viera Cast I would mark my score down but I have a Media Center PC and PS3 that replace all the functionality Viera Cast offers.
3D performance is very good. So far I've watched Tron Legacy on 3D bluray and played some 3D PS3 games; the 3D picture is very immersive and THX color accuracy remains very good in 3D mode. I've had bad experiences with 3D crosstalk on a friend's Samsung C7000 LCD and it can get very annoying and distracting. Thankfully I haven't experienced any of that on the GT30 in a dark or light viewing environments.
I've heard some early reports of the GT30 exhibiting floating blacks when viewing material that changes from a darker to a lighter scene suddenly. I haven't experienced any of this. I watched Black Swan on bluray to test this and black levels remained dark and consistent throughout with no slight jumps in brightness.
I'm also very impressed with the design of the GT30. It's about as thin as my Motorola Droid and it looks stunning mounted on my wall. Panasonic has traditionally lagged behind the likes of Sony and Samsung when it comes to the design of their Tv's but they really stepped up their game with the GT30. Having a TV that looks almost as stunning when turned off as it does when turned on is an unexpected plus.
Overall the GT30 is an incredible TV that makes no compromises when it comes to picture quality. If you want to spend more money, the VT30 it will probably improve upon the GT30 in some way when it's released but I'm having a hard time coming up with things they could improve outside of their Viera Cast platform.
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fluctuating brightness no longer a problem; great for games,
First, yes, the brightness fluctuations were distracting. Notice the past-tense "were" there; as in, the fluctuations are no longer distracting because they are no longer a problem. For North America, Panasonic has acknowledged and addressed the fluctuations. For sets manufactured prior to August 2011 a repair is available in the form of an SD card software update or a very simple hardware replacement (pre-updated hardware for non-Panasonic repair techs as an alternative to updating the software with an SD card). So, don't let the looming shadow of brightness fluctuations deter you from this TV--if you get a set and it is a problem, call Panasonic and they'll fix it. On the other hand, you may not even notice them at all. So again, don't let it hold you back.
I discovered this TV while looking for an affordable way to pick up a quality 3D HDTV, mostly for gaming. 3D performance is very good. Many have claimed this TV is crosstalk free (crosstalk is the phenomenon where the image intended for only one eye bleeds a bit into the wrong eye causing a double-image effect), but it simply is not; however, the crosstalk is generally not very noticeable in movies and games and in the case of games you can usually adjust the strength of the 3D effect to somewhat mitigate the crosstalk. For anyone wondering if plasma tech is ok for games the answer is yes, it is fine. Some people recommend about 100 hours of "break in" before leaving any static images on the screen. I don't know if this is technically necessary but there's nothing wrong with being cautious and conservative...100 hours really isn't much time for a TV at all. Some with a critical eye may occasionally notice image retention, but it is temporary. Just be mindful about leaving static images on the screen for long periods of time (for example, don't leave a game paused for several hours...just turn off your TV if you won't be using it, you'll save electricity). Many games have health bars, maps, or other fixed images on the screen, but in my experience these don't cause long-term problems: first, the TV will imperceptibly shift pixels around to keep them changing; second, most games have cutscenes, pauses, and transitions that change up the picture frequently enough that it won't really matter. Again, just be mindful and you shouldn't have any problems.
This set replaced a Sony XBR LCD from 2008 and so far (2 months of ownership) I don't miss LCDs at all. Frankly, at this screen size LED backlit 3D capable LCDs are just too cost prohibitive in my opinion. Yes the power consumption is higher than an LED lit LCD so the long-term cost of ownership is higher in that respect, but I haven't noticed any difference in my electricity bill compared to my CCFL lit LCD; so, if you're coming from an older LCD the power consumption probably won't be a lot different.
140 of 154 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful picture that's spoiled by fluctuating brightness,
The over-all design and build is solid. Some TVs have a weak and even flimsy feel to them, but not this Panasonic.
The screen is very nice and coated in such a way that it is not too reflective.
The colors are rich and blacks are impressive, too.
There are plenty of display modes to switch between depending on your viewing habits and the content you are viewing. These settings are remembered per input, so, for example, you can have different settings for the Blu-ray player on HDMI 1, and the Wii game console on component input. The TV will change the settings to your preferences based on the input selected.
The menus are fairly straight-forward and easy to navigate. I like the fact that the menus are responsive and quick. I hate the Sony menus that take a second or two to respond.
The remote is not my favorite. This is really a gripe about the design of two Panasonic product remotes and not specifically a gripe about the TV. The remote for the Panasonic Blu-ray has very similar buttons. I can use the Blu-ray remote for on/off volume and channel for the TV and I can use the TV remote to control playback of the Blu-ray. The problem is that the buttons are in totally different locations which makes it confusing if you need to switch between them. Why aren't the functions laid out similarly for a same-branded product? Since the two products go together, you would think that the design of the remotes would echo each other in similar areas. Oh well.
It is a power hungry TV. From what I understand, plasmas are power hungry due to the nature of their display technology. They also give off noticeable heat. I believe manufacturers are being forced by regulations to build more energy efficient (Energy Star compliant) TVs. It is also my understanding that this TV is more compliant than previous years' models.
The big problem with this TV set and the deal breaker for me is automatic fluctuating brightness that CANNOT be controlled by ANY user settings. During scenes that transition from light to dark or dark to light the brightness will make distinct, noticeable, abrupt jumps. It is distracting and even annoying in scenes that make these transitions from light and dark often.
Most current flat panel TVs have dynamic picture settings. The fluctuations are not from a dynamic display setting that has an on/off switch, nor is it a room lighting sensor. It appears that this is the way these TVs are (poorly, in my opinion) designed.
I watched the Blu-ray disc of Mike Judges's "Extract" with Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, and Ben Affleck recently. In one scene, the point of view switches between Jason's character and Ben's character while they sit and talk at a table in a bar. There were many of these fluctuations and it got quite annoying.
It does not seem to matter which input is used: HDMI, component, or composite for the fluctuation to occur. From my observation it does not matter which display mode is used either, including game mode. I connected my trusty old PS2 and played some classic SOCOM Navy Seals. There are many situations where the scenes changed from light to dark and vice versa. There were lots of the brightness fluctuations.
The sad part is that this is an otherwise great TV and I really do like the picture, but it is spoiled by the brightness fluctuations.
I'm waiting to hear back from Panasonic after I called tech support and they walked me through a few settings changes that did not resolve the fluctuation issue. They said they are researching it. The TV's firmware can be updated. I can't say whether or not this issue will be fixable through a firmware update.
I will probably be returning this TV as I have had it for less than 30 days. In my opinion, this fluctuation is unacceptable for a $2000+ TV.
I've researched some online on this fluctuation issue. Take a look at forums like AVforums.com, AVSforum.com, and HighDefJunkies.com. Search with keywords like: Panasonic 2011, fluctuating brightness. Decide for yourself.
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great TV - be careful with image retention,
This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P55GT30 55-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV (Electronics)After extensive research on AVSForum, HiDefJunkies, and Flat Panel Reviews, I decided that I wanted the fantastic 2d picture quality, amazing black levels, and 3d without crosstalk for the future and this 55inch set was my choice since it was just a few hundred dollars more than the 50 inch. It arrived today and I could tell the shipping company Amazon used treated the box/set very well (no marks, dents, holes) and by myself I assembled the base and put the TV on it (I suggest you use 2 people for safety). I have a Pioneer Elite 36TX receiver and it doesn't have HDMI switching, so I thought that I was going to have to replace it. My sources are DirecTv (HR-20), Boxee, and LG BluRay. What I wasn't counting on, but LOVE (and it's saving me a lot of money) is that the Panasonic GT30 has an ARC (Audio Return Channel)via optical Toslink. That lets me connect HDMI from all my sources to the TV and have the audio output to the reciever for surround processing - AWESOME!
With only one day of watching, I think the picture quality is "all that". I previously had a Sony Grand Wega III Rear projection LCD HDTV, and it's hardly comparable because the display technology has progressed so far. Even major broadcasters like CBS/ABC/NBC in HD look suprisingly better.
It also comes with Wifi in the box which you connect via one of the two or three USB ports on the TV. That setup was painless. I don't really intend on using those features (like Netflix), so I can't speak to that. I *WILL* be using DLNA, and since both my Synology NAS and my Samsung phone support DLNA, I will see how well that works in the near future.
Setup was very easy. I'm a tech-guy and my wife could have done this. Date/Time/What source is on each HDMI port and walla.
What don't I like? The HDMI ports are horizontal on the side of the set and your HDMI cables will protrude from the back of the set.
My wife mainly uses this TV and she watches maybe 50 percent 4:3 content. I noticed a vertical line where the 4:3 content usually ends. Our source is a DirecTv box and I had it set to use black bars and the standard picture (not stretched). Well, I can tell you that screen burn-in/image retention is a reality with this TV. I did call Panasonic and they were all defensive about image retention saying -- "it's in the manual" and it's not covered under warranty. They did give me some tips to help, and maybe it will. I changed the DirecTv box to stretch 4:3 content and use grey bars when needed. I also used the pixel tool in the TV menu several times. I'm hopeful that it will all equalize. I only notice on a HD screen which is light/white. I still like the TV and it's color, size, functionality, but maybe I don't love it as much as I initially did.
After about 6 months of stretched content, I believe the vertical bars are now gone. I'm not sure if it was image retention, or just the fact that the 4:3 content part of the screen got more use and the extended part didn't. I still have not tried 3D because the glasses are too expensive and I'd also have to pay either DirecTv for 3D content or buy a 3D BluRay and 3D BluRay movies... doesn't seem worth it at this point.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The crown jewel,
This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P65GT30 65-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV (2011 Model) (Electronics)After having spent literally a year doing research on the "big boys" with 3D capacity, reading a half dozen reviews and blogs, I finally purchased the Panasonic 65" GT30. The money was serious for our family budget, so I wanted to make sure we were happy with the investment. I ticked off, one by one, the competitors for "in store" demos, literally looking at dozens of models.....then I made the leap...and haven't had the first regret after two weeks of viewing.
I have some pretty serious, state of the art LCD/LED TV's in my home already (Sony, Panasonic, et al), with their eye popping bright colors, razor sharp pictures, etc....but this is much more a movie theater type of viewing experience, with subtle shades and deep rich colors, fluid motion without pixelation....and the 3D is the best I have seen anywhere...every time we put in a blu ray movie or view the premium services (HBO and Showtime) my jaw literally drops....WOW...if you can muster the bucks, there is no way you won't be totally taken by this set. I know the Samsung sets are quality too, but they can't quite measure up in my estimation. The concerns about glare are certainly a consideration, but for the most part, even though my viewing area has several windows that can be shaded, they do not diminish greatly the watchability of the set....it seems brighter than most plasmas.
If this jewel has any shortcoming at all, it would be in the sound quality of the set....so plan on at least a soundbar or an audio system, ideally. I can't imagine spending this kind of money and not finishing it off with that component. Because our space allowed, I went for the 65", trying to simulate the 3D/theater viewing experience. Although the additional cost is not proportional to the bigger size (you pay a premium for the upscaling), it was worth it to me, bringing the adjective "awesome" to mind.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great TV and excellent service from Amazon,
This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P60GT30 60-Inch 1080p 120 Hz 3D Plasma HDTV (Electronics)I spent hours researching LED/LCD vs. Plasma. I don't like the artificial motion that the 120/240 LCD screens produce. I was also concerned about putting a plasma screen in our living room which has a lot of windows and a sliding glass door. After reading many reviews and finally comparing the set in-person, my wife and I purchased the 60" GT30 from Amazon.
Unfortunately, the first TV that arrived was cracked. After calling Amazon, they quickly ordered a replacement unit, and scheduled to have the broken one picked up.
After waiting another 7 days, we received the new unit--shipped by a different, and much more careful carrier. My wife and I couldn't be happier with our purchase. As previously mentioned, the TV sits in a very bright room, and looks fantastic. It is bright and the colors (especially in THX mode) are extraordinary.
While not a perfect experience (broken TV), Amazon once again provided exceptional customer service.
- One day after ordering the TV, a promotion was announced including 3D glasses with the purchase of this specific model. One email to Amazon, and I was quickly sent instructions on how to participate in the promotion, even though I "technically" didn't qualify.
- Amazon originally offered the lowest price for this TV when I ordered it. Even though the price was reduced by over $200 one week later, Amazon promptly provided a credit as part of their low price guarantee.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustration,
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded all Expectations.,
This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P65GT30 65-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV (2011 Model) (Electronics)Looking for a tv can be a long and tedious process. You want to make the right choice. You pour over reviews and develop a list of pros and cons. Atleast I did. It is easy to get bogged down the nitty gritty. You can go on forums and read all the pros and cons written by well meaning people, if not a tad geeky. They may point out things that you would never catch in the 1000 years. Fluctuating black levels? Oh NO! But, don't let that scare you from taking the plunge. First off I worried about the shipping. My goodness, how are they going to shipped this delicate tv from Japan to the Midwest? I never bought anything this costly and this big. What do I do if it is damaged, yadda yadda yadda. Well it came in perfect condition, not a scratch on the box. Always a good sign. Well I will save you all the boring details but the delivery and set up went way beyond my expectations. Totally satisfied. I have no regrets about the process of buying/shipping through Amazon. The TV is amazing. The 3d is worth every penny. I watched the NBA Finals last night through DTV and ESPN3d. The clarity was unbelievable! I looked at Samsung and LG and I think Panasonic is just a pinch better made and has a better picture overall. I glad I bought it and I would buy it again. I just wish it could play AVI files through Viera Link. The 3d works great even at a distance of 16 feet from the TV. Don't let the 3d scare you that is is just a fad, yeah it's early, but its coming and Panasonic delivers 3d in true HD. Something that you will want. 100,000 hours will give you 11 years at 24/7 tv on or 22 years at 12 hours a day. I have no connection to Amazon or Panasonic.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Picture,
This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P55GT30 55-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV (Electronics)This review is only for the 2D picture quality only. I do not have the 3D glasses and I am not sure I will get them, 3d doesn't interest me that much. I primarily bought it because it was plasma and not LCD. I have had CRT projection, DLP projection and LCD. The LCD was a Samsung and a great TV but I did not like the soap opera visual effect it had on some content. The picture was clear but looked artificial. I believe I have read some other reviews on Amazon stating the same observations.
I purchased this TV based on online research and the positive reviews by professional review sites and user feedback. The off angle viewing, no lag or artifacts when viewing fast action content were the two most important aspects to me, researching all the different display types will find, plasma is the king of the hill on both counts. I would not hesitate to recommend this TV to anyone. If you do the research you will find it is the top of the game and amazon had a really good price coupled with the 2 year interest free amazon sore card purchase it was a no brainer. The form factor although not as slim as the slimmest LCD's is still under 2 inches and looks great hanging on the wall.
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