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Panasonic 42″ Smart 3D Plasma TV Review

Panasonic TX-P42GT30

Rating: ★★★★½

The new Panasonic TX-P42GT30 may sit in a niche between the brand’s all-singing and dancing VT30 models and the entry level 3D ST30s, but it’s unquestionably a high-end proposition.

The GT30 uses the same high contrast Infinite Black Pro NeoPlasma panel as the flagship VT30 and identical 600Hz sub-field drive Intelligent Frame Creation Pro tech to manage image clarity. It also sports dual Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners.

Build and features

The set is stylishly thin at 33mm (bulging out to 58mm at the base to incorporate stereo drivers) and has a smart 32mm bezel. Build quality is substantial, tipping the scales at 19.5kg.

Connectivity includes 4x HDMIs, Ethernet, 3 USB ports, component and Scart. However, the space allocated to these is so tight adaptors are required for pretty much everything. This even includes the aerial coax lead and USBs. Panasonic’s standard Wi-Fi dongle, can’t be used without an extension terminal.

Naturally the TX-P42GT30 is fully networkable, combining Panasonic’s VIERA Connect service with local media streaming. The VIERA Connect portal is quick to navigate and offers a wide range of content. Headline attractions include BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Daily Motion, Cinetrailer, Ustream, Daily Motion, Shoutcast and Picasa. Social media implantation through Facebook and Twitter is clunky, but that’s par for the course. More enticing is Skype video calling, which works particularly well between two VIERA Connect clients.

The TV is DLNA certified and offers excellent file compatibility. Across our test network, AVCHD, AVIs, MOV and MKV wrapped content located on a NAS all played. Audio support covers MP3, AAC and WMA, with both album art and artist metadata recognised. You can also attach an external hard drive for recording, although with only one usable channel this has obvious limitations.

3D picture quality

Let’s not mince words: the 3D performance of this panel is mind-blowing. It eclipses what we saw on last year’s VT20 models, and has no intrusive crosstalk. Even classic challenges such as the Monsters Vs Aliens church steeple seem easily mastered. Although Panasonic’s glasses absorb a huge amount of light the TV’s auto compensation is surprisingly good. 3D images are a little darker and more contrasty than rival 3D LEDs, but never seem compromised.

However it’s significant (given the price) that Panasonic is not bundling glasses with this TV. These are an optional (and expensive) extra.

2D picture quality and audio

High-def image quality is also outstanding. Built upon a bedrock of lush, uniform blacks, pictures ping from the screen. The brand makes much of its 600Hz sub-field drive Intelligent Frame Creation technology, but the image is better when it’s turned off. Resolution isn’t compromised and while there’s mild motion stutter on pans, films at least look cinematic. Turn IFC on and horizontal movements gains a glacial slide but motion artefacts are immediately introduced. Motion resolution is a full fat 1080 lines in every mode.

Colour fidelity is equally terrific. Test footage of an artfully lit violin and sax combines rich woods with glinting brass. The GT30 delivered a picture which was dynamic yet believable. Audio is sufficiently strident for general viewing. The set only has 2x10w downward firing stereo speakers (no sub), but doesn’t sound overly shrill.

Specifications:

  • Screen: 42inch plasma
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Full HDM
  • Technology: NeoPlasma display with THX 2D/3D certification
  • TV Tuner: : Freeview HD, Freesat HD, DVB-S/S2, analogue
  • Connections: 4xHDMI, CI Slot, SCART and component via adaptors, phono AV, 3x USB, Ethernet LAN
  • Sound: 20w (2 x 10w)
  • Audio: Nicam Stereo, PCM, Dolby Digital, DTS
  • Dimensions/Weight: 993 x 615 x 589 mm/19.5kg

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Pros

  • Zero crosstalk 3D
  • Excellent media streaming support
  • VIERA Connect
  • IPTV portal

Cons

  • No 3D glasses provided
  • Lifeless TV EPG
  • Reliance of fiddly adaptors for connectivity

Verdict

Overall, the TX-P42GT30 is a must-see TV. Its 2D and 3D picture performance is class leading, the VIERA Connect IPTV portal is goldmine rich and media streaming appears bullet-proof. We were impressed. You will be too.

Panasonic 42

 


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