Review: Panasonic TC-L42D30 LCD HDTV Page 2

Setup

The L42D30’s five picture presets include a Cinema mode that serves as a good starting point for making additional image-quality tweaks. With Cinema selected, its color temperature measured somewhat warm, averaging 6,222 K from 20 to 100 IRE. (See Test Bench, on page 4 of this article, for details.) Gamma in that mode averaged out to 2.3 — virtually on the money — and it was also very linear across all brightness steps.

One thing about the L42D30 raised a red flag during the objective measurement part of my test: its primary/secondary color points, most of which miss the HD standard targets. The real-world effect of this was reds that looked noticeably undersaturated (pale), and green objects like grass and trees taking on a yellowish cast.

The L42D30’s Custom picture mode provides an additional Pro Settings menu with White Balance, Color Detail, and Gamma adjustments. Using these settings — along with video measurement equipment — I was able to improve the set’s grayscale performance, and also make slight improvements to its color points. (Gamma, meanwhile, ended up being slightly worse after adjustment in Custom, especially at the high end of the set’s brightness range.) That said, when I sat back to watch a few reference clips after making my final adjustments in Custom, the picture looked noticeably worse than in Cinema — a similar situation to what I had encountered when testing Panasonic’s TC-P55VT30 plasma for the October 2011 issue. So, back to Cinema (and to square one) it was.

One additional setting that requires mention is the L42D30’s AI Picture mode. According to the manual, AI picture “controls dark areas without affecting the black level or brightness in the entire picture.” In practice, this setting did drop black levels (including switching the LED backlight off entirely when a full-screen black image was displayed) and made shadows appear deeper, but not with nearly the same effectiveness or localized control you get with local-dimming LED-backlit LCDs. (There’s no mention of a local-dimming feature in the TV’s manual or in Panasonic’s literature.) Consequently, I chose to leave AI Picture off for all measurements and a good amount of my viewing, although I did evaluate its effect fairly thoroughly.

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