Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT30 3D Plasma HDTV Page 2

Setup

Unlike with last year’s VT25 models, which only got the THX stamp for 2D performance, certification of the VT30 series extends to 3D as well. The bottom line here is that when you select THX mode for 2D or 3D programs, the resulting picture should look pretty great. By and large I found this to be true, though peak light output when I was watching in the 2D mode was on the low side. Other issues included gamma that averaged well off the 2.2 target for dim room viewing, and a slightly too-warm color temperature. Many of these same issues also applied to the set’s Cinema preset, which is the next most accurate option after THX.

The VT30 also has a Custom mode with extensive setup options — everything from 10-point grayscale and gamma adjustments to a fully equipped color management system. Most settings in Custom are not aimed at casual users, however; you’ll need measurement gear and TV calibration know-how to make effective use of them. After toying around for many, many hours, I was able to dial in a more ideal grayscale without too much sacrifice in the way of color point accuracy. (Gamma was a different story.) But I can’t say I was impressed with the results: After I made the adjustments in Custom, colors were oversaturated and the highlights looked overly punchy. My solution? Go back to THX, but add a contrast boost beyond the default settings until light output in that mode measures a more typical 35 ftL.

Another setup step you need to pay attention to on the VT30 is selecting the Full Screen Format and Size 2 HD size in the Aspect Adjustments submenu. (These settings ensure that high-def sources like Blu-ray are displayed with no picture overscan.) There’s also a 96-Hz display option available in Custom mode that lets the TV display 1080p/24 sources with no 3:2 pull-down processing. One item of interest in Custom mode is a Motion Smoother option with Weak and Strong settings that can remove judder from film-based images. Selecting this makes motion look artificial and “video-like,” so I’d just leave it switched off.

After linking the TV to my Netflix account during setup, I observed that its interface on the VT30 is the newer version, with big, scrollable cover art and customized suggested title lists (for me, Movies from the 1960s, British Prison Dramas, Violent Movies), along with New Arrivals, etc. You can also add titles directly to your Instant Queue. Menu navigation is spiffy, and the graphics look wonderfully crisp.

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