Panasonic TC-P50GT30 Review: Plasma 3D TV, See Video Review

Model: Panasonic Viera TC-P50GT30
Description: 50" Full 1080P, HDTV Plasma, 3D TV Compatibility, 1.5" deep
Dimensions: 46.4" X 28.3" X 2.3" depth
Includes: Table Top Stand, Breakout Cables for Component/Composite, 3D glasses charger, USB Wireless Dongle. (No glasses included)
Reviewer: Robert Wiley and Jack Burden
Date: Spring/Summer 2011

Introduction

The GT30 series 3D plasma represents Panasonics next to highest end features and price model for 2011. Only the VT30 will have more features at a higher price.

Picture Quality Rating (HD): 9/10

Normally our picture calibrated settings may make a 5% to 10% difference in color accuracy, vibrancy and picture quality. However with the GT30 we highly recommend you try out our settings which include some major modifications in the Pro Settings menu. We thoroughly tested picture quality with both HD and Standard Definition and find that our settings far outperform the THX, or our own adjusted Cinema mode settings. No matter which picture mode you use, be sure to turn off the Motion Smoother which greatly reduces natural background blur, reduces depth perception and hurts picture quality. The post calibration picture is extremely vibrant but still realistic. Colors pop off the screen and envelop you in the picture. Our increases in some of the Blue and Red phosphor settings will no doubt place more tax on those phosphors but with a specified 100,000 hours to half life who's counting. The Standard picture mode in the GT30 is set to an energy saving mode and is very dim as a result. No doubt this is to state energy consumption figures (399Watts) and "position" Panasonic as competitive in every usage. All this to save the equivalent of about $15 per year? Ramp it up, enjoy your picture. Go to the next page to see our picture settings for this TV.

Panasonic TC-P50GT30 Review
This shot from the Blu Ray of Iron Man shows awesome detail and clarity

Black levels are robust and contrast excellent after calibration. One weakness we noted was some instability in the picture at times, like the TV is having a difficult time sizing the aspect. This issue was more pronounced with HD input from a Blu Ray. Through the composite input breakout cables we did not notice it. The problem would agree with our processor testing results where our film resolution test showed some extreme wobble.

Panasonic TC-P50GT30 Review
Another shot from Iron Man shows good black level saturation

So what we ended up with was a spectacular picture quality once our calibration changes were made, but with some instability and motion artifacts. One thing we notice is that dark shadow detail with our settings is about the best we've seen.

Picture Quality Rating (SD): 9/10

As mentioned we did not note the wobble issue through the composite input. The calibrated picture is very bright and dark shadow detail excellent. Colors remain intense with lowly signals and can bring dull old 480i DVDs to life. We did note judder during slow panning side to side scenes as the GT30 does little to overcome this challenging issue (present with almost all TVs).

Panasonic TC-P50GT30 Review
This shot from the standard definition 480i version DVD of Seabiscuit shows how clear images can appear even from low end signals.

Motion Lag: There was little to no motion lag present in fast moving scenes

Viewing Angle: Is just about perfect. There is not contrast or depth loss at side angles.

False Contouring/Mapping: The GT30 did a good job of not mapping and banding color information – a previous issue for many plasma TVs. The Mosquito NR control in the picture menu reduces flicker noise in HD programming.

Panasonic TC-P50GT30 Review
A shot from the 3D Blu Ray of Alice in Wonderland

3D TV Viewing: Plasma is the best technology for 3D programming since the plasma displays full 1080p HD to each eye. After the initial adjustment getting used to the glasses, we were enveloped by the 3D imagery from Alice in Wonderland and watched with ease and enjoyment as the bright colorful images flowed by. The 3D glasses displayed much better than last year, and did not exhibit the same problems with flashing. The depth experience with 3D on the GT30 is exceptional. I will admit now that I did not think I would become accustomed to wearing 3D glasses or even enjoy the technology for entire movie, but I was wrong. I am weaker and more impressionable and not as old school as I thought. I admit I like 3D. Whew! Admitting that is a great relief. Great content is a key to 3D. The quality of the production is as or even more important than the TV itself. But the GT30 did an admirable job displaying this fun movie, with eye-popping colors correct processing of the signal. So again I admit that 3D enhanced the overall viewing experience.

The GT30 TV package includes a 3D glasses charger which plugs into the USB input on the TV, however it does not include any glasses – oddly enough.

Features Rating: 8.5/10

Panasonic TC-P50GT30 Review
Panasonic's Viera Cast Internet menu displays in layers and is cumbersome to navigate. The offerings however are pretty good.

Internet Options: The Viera Cast Internet Suite consist of many of the same options such as Netflix, MLB, NBA (lite), Associated Press news services, Pandora Internet Radio, You Tube, Accuweather, Amazon VoD, Fox Sports, Facebook and more. There is also an impressive array of Apps including mostly games available for purchase in the Viera Connect Market.

The GT30 is Skype capable though you must purchase the optional proprietary camera TY-CC10W to enable it.

Panasonic TC-P50GT30 Review
A shot from the NBA App from the GT30's Internet options.

TV Appearance: This year's GT30 is certainly a step in the right direction in appearance though it will not win best-looking TV of the year award. The television is 1.5" deep in the top part of the screen and 2.3" deep at the very bottom to accommodate the speakers. The gloss black framing bezel is 1.2" in width and 2" at the bottom. It has a silver metal band around its edges which adds a metallic touch to the entire panel. The panel screen is not seamless over the bezel like top end models. At the bottom of the TVs bezel, it slopes inward about 30 degrees. Overall, it's much more attractive than last year but still a good few steps behind the competition.

The accompanying table top stand is much improved on previous modes. It's heavy, solid, charcoal gloss gray, and assembly is easy and secure. This year it even swivels 10 degrees side to side.

Remote Control/Menu Function: The semi-transparent menu system on the GT30 is much improved over last year, and is easy and fast to use. Be aware that the Motion Smoother control (that you will want to turn off) is far into the picture settings inside Advanced picture settings. To turn off: Go to Picture/scroll down to Advanced Settings (3rd page), click on/ scroll down to Motion Smoother, click on/adjust to off (with right arrow key). The Motion Smoother is there to reduce judder and it may well work, but the destruction of depth and natural background blur is not worth the trade off.

The remote control is fairly boring, plain-jane in appearance. It's back lit and has the requisite keys and functionality. The Viera Cast key takes you to the Internet Suite in the GT30. The format key gives you the aspect ratio picture sizing options of full, just, 4:3, and zoom, though there is also a 1:1 pixel to pixel option available deep within the picture menu settings if you want to see the overscan. This option is dubbed HD Size 2. There is a new 3D button at the top of the remote that must be pressed when intending to play 3D programming.

Inputs: The GT30 includes 4 HDMI inputs, 3 USB inputs, an SD card slot, an Ethernet connection, and composite and component inputs though you must use the included breakout cables for them.

Panasonic TC-P50GT30 Review
Included breakout cables for the ST30 for use with composite or component inputs.

Audio Output: The 50GT30 includes 2 X 10Watt speakers. The sound quality is much better on this TV than many we've tested this year. Even with the Surround Sound option turned on, we were able to clearly hear voice quality. Surrounding noises at no time overwhelm voice which is a nice change from most TVs out there. Sound quality is much richer and fuller and does not have the hollow, tinny effects from many TV speakers. The A-I sound option equalizes sound and keeps annoying ad volume from fluctuating too much.

Power Consumption: 50GT30 – 399Watts

see Value Rating and Overall Score on Page 2


 



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