Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT30 3D Plasma HDTV Page 4

Bottom Line

Panasonic’s VT30 plasma line marks an evolution in performance and style over last year’s VT25 Series. It’s true that the TC-P55VT30 is pricey when compared with other plasmas in its size range, and its THX mode could stand to be more accurate. But on the whole, I found watching both 2D and 3D movies on Panasonic’s plasma to be a highly satisfying experience, which is what matters most.

Test Bench

Color temperature (THX mode/Warm2 color temperature preset before; Custom mode/Warm2 color temperature preset after):

20-IRE: 6,538K/6,556 K

30-IRE: 6,590 K/6,606 K

40-IRE: 6,496 K/6,628 K

50-IRE: 6,331 K/6,602 K

60-IRE: 6,224 K/6,522 K

70-IRE: 6,243 K/6,466 K

80-IRE: 6,137 K/6,494 K

90-IRE: 6,169 K/6,539 K

100-IRE: 6,003K/6,473 K

Primary Color Point Accuracy vs. SMPTE HD Standard

Color

Target X

Measured X

Target Y

Measured Y

Red

0.64

0.64

0.33

0.33

Green

0.30

0.31

0.60

0.60

Blue

0.15

0.15

0.06

0.07

Note: Spectracal’s CalMan Professional Monitor Calibration Software (spectracal.com) was used during the calibration and measurement process. See the PDF below for a complete report with detailed pre- and post-calibration results.

The Panasonic TC-P55VT30’s THX mode/Warm2 color temperature preset delivered the most accurate grayscale performance. Average color temperature was 6,274 kelvins with a maximum deviation of ±363 K from 20 to 90 IRE. After calibration using the 10-point grayscale adjustment in Custom mode, the set’s average color temperature was 6,541 with a maximum deviation of ±128 K from 20 to 90 IRE.

Color-decoder error measured in THX mode was –15% for red, +10% for green, and –5% for blue, while primary color points closely matched the HD standard. Gamma averaged close to 2.0 — a brighter overall profile than the 2.2 target for dim room viewing. After I made adjustments in Custom mode, the set’s color point accuracy and gamma both measured somewhat worse than in THX. I attribute this partly to the TV’s complicated menu structure, which made it extremely challenging to fine-tune certain aspects of its performance without compromising others. Ultimately, after losing a good percentage of my hair, I decided to simply leave things in THX mode and boost contrast from the relatively low 24.5 ftL maximum output for that mode’s default settings to a more typical 35 ftL.

Brightness measured from a 0-IRE (black) field pattern at the THX default settings was 0.006 ftL, which yielded a 4,095:1 contrast ratio. The set displayed full picture resolution for all signal formats delivered via HDMI, although 480i pictures viewed via component video looked somewhat soft. Motion-resolution tests revealed 1,080 lines with the Motion Smoother setting in Custom mode set to Strong. But this also added a “video effect” to film-based content, so I’d suggest leaving it off. (Motion resolution with plasma TVs is already very good without applying additional processing.)

The Panasonic’s deinterlacing of both film- and video-sourced material was mostly good. However, it was unable to deal with 2:2 pulldown on test discs, and was also slow to lock on to a 3:2 cadence. (With 3:2 Pulldown mode set to Auto as opposed to On in the setup menu, it wouldn’t lock on at all.) Noise-reduction processing was very effective, with no picture detail loss visible even with the Video and Mosquito noise filter modes at their highest settings.

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