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Panasonic VIERA TH-P50VT30S 3D Plasma TV review

Panasonic VIERA TH-P50VT30S - Prince of Darkness

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Overall rating 9/10
Design:
8.5
3D Performance:
9
HD Performance:
9
SD Performance:
9
Features:
8.5
Value:
9
THE GOOD
Excellent 3D Quality
Untainted Black Levels
Superb HD and SD Performance
THE BAD
Average Noise Filters


HD, SD & 3D Tests

Standard-Definition Tests

 

X-Men: The Last Stand (DVD)

No HDTV is capable of reproducing a native Full-HD resolution from an 480i source, but the VT30S sure comes close. Notably, SD content on the generally "noisy" X-Men disc was nicely up-converted to fill the Viera's 1080p estate with minimal loss in detail. Motion artifacts and mosquito noise were also effectively reduced despite the VIERA’s shoddy noise filters as observed during the HQV tests. This was evident even before the film began as we could tell from the animated sequence on the DVD's menu. For instance, grainy dots and artifacts which typically surround the moving 'tentacle' were less prominent. The CG 'tentacle' also appeared more defined than usual. Findings were applicable to the film’s contents as well, which showed improved richness in fidelity compared to its rivals, such as LG's PZ950 for example. Panasonic has a Resolution Enhancer which sharpens images by enhancing the source's resolution. Depending on the quality and bit-rate of your DVD source, this feature can help sharpen less detailed picture definition when needed.  

 

High-Definition Tests

 

Corpse Bride (Blu-ray)

It was pure bliss to behold Tim Burton’s gothic animation on the VT30S. The NeoPlasma display was able to retain black depths, while punching out vibrant and crisp details without batting an eyelid. Our experience tells us that darker image details, such as those in scene 0:12 for example, are typically obscured in LCD TVs with poor contrast rates or inconsistent backlight distribution. This wasn't something the VT30S had to contend with, for it managed to highlight as well as differentiate the darker shades from the blacks very well. It may be cliché to say the VT30S is capable of eye-popping images, but that’s what it is able to deliver in reality. We also noted that this set is able to deliver razor sharp results with moving 1080i images on Corpse Bride. Best of all, the VIERA does not depend on too many of its visual enhancements to impress. Minor contour artifacts can be resolved by enabling Intelligent Frame Creation, but we won't advise you to push this feature to the max, not unless unnaturally smooth pictures are your cup of tea. 

Recommended Advanced Configurations For Blu-ray Playback
 Function Recommended Settings 
 Intelligent Frame Creation  Off (enable if judder is an issue)
 Film Cadence Detection  Off 
 Resolution Enhancer  Low or Mid
 Side Panel  Off (enable for 4:3 content)
16:9 Overscan  Off
 Pixel Orbiter  On

 

Monsters vs Aliens (3D Blu-ray)

Panasonic's 3D eyewear is a little less goggle-like than last year's effort, but it is still relatively bulky compared to Samsung's. That aside, Panasonic has made a number of engineering changes on the silver and black TY-EW3D2MA glasses. For starters, you don't have to worry about batteries running out of juice with its rechargeable feature (via USB). You also don't have to second-guess the glasses' power status with its 'slider' on/off switch. This is a common annoyance with some 3D glasses which tout a button instead of a switch. While the EW3D2MA might appear heavy at the onset, they are actually quite light and comfortable. 

Let's look at the VT30S 3D performance. We’ve been impressed by the VT30S’ performance so far, and it seems like it is going to continue that stellar track record in the 3D arena. Since the panel doesn’t automatically brighten in 3D mode, we’d recommend increasing the contrast and brightness levels by a couple of notches to compensate for the active-shutter glasses’ dimming effect. Stereoscopic images were nicely defined on the VT30S with plucky 3D depths. More importantly, crosstalk was almost nonexistent throughout the movie. Unlike some rival sets, the VIERA enables you to tweak its display settings whilst in 3D mode. We noticed a couple of new options. One of them is 24p Smooth Film, which we reckon the TV would apply its own cadence processing to ensure optimal frame rates. The other tweak, known as 3D Refresh Rate, allows you to playback the 3D movie at either 100Hz or 120Hz rates.