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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Panasonic TX-P42GT30B 3D Plasma TV Review

The Panasonic TX-P42GT30B is the company’s mid-range 3D Plasma TV for 2011, featuring the 14th generation NeoPlasma (formerly “NeoPDP”) panel with “Infinite Black Pro”, Short-Stroke phosphor material for reduced trailing and 3D crosstalk, and a newly redesigned ultra-slim chassis. The TX-P42GT30B has also been through the THX Display Certification programme for 2D viewing, and new for 2011, for 3D viewing as well. Last year’s Panasonic Plasma displays needed quite a bit of calibration work in order to avoid unwanted color tints when playing back 3D video, and actually doing this calibration through the 3D Active Shutter glasses required luxurious specialized equipment. Hopefully, THX’s certification process will allow all users to watch tint-free 3-dimensional images without the need for extensive picture setup.
The design of the Panasonic TX-P42GT30B is noticeably improved compared to the Viera G20 and GT20 displays that it replaces: it’s thinner, and more subtle and professional looking. The thin border surrounding the sleek-looking glass panel is styled with a brushed steel look, which makes the TX-P42GT30 feel like a smaller version of Panasonic’s professional Plasma displays (which we’ve always envied the design of). The outer edges of the plasma are rounded rather than being square, and there is a small silver border placed between the screen itself and the outer bezel.
In fact, the promotional images Panasonic has issued do the TXP42GT30 a disservice. In pre-rendered publicity pictures, the display looks pretty much the same as every other gloss black TV out there. Don’t judge the GT30’s looks until you see it in the flesh. Less practically, the TX-P42GT30B’s thickness has also been reduced to a mere 3cm (for most of the back panel - the sincere point, at the bottom of the unit, is closer to 5cm).
The TX-P42GT30B’s design means that, like other manufacturers who have produced ultra-slim displays, Panasonic has had to incorporate the majority of the TV’s video inputs via break-out adapter cables. The exception to this rule is the 4 HDMI inputs, which are slim enough to be built directly in to the back panel. These are mounted facing side-ways to the rear left of the TXP42GT30. Since the HDMI inputs are located quite close to the edge of the rear panel, we found that they would sometimes stick out and remain visible from the front viewing position. Inexpensive L-shaped HDMI adapters or cables could solve this problem, should it become an issue.
Panasonic has given mainly of its lineup a refreshing new menu redesign for 2011. The menus are now drawn in sleek transparent grey, which matches the design of the GT30 itself quite nicely. 

High Definition
2D Blu-ray Disc movies are a total joy to behold on the Panasonic TX-P42GT30B, whether it’s displaying in the [THX] picture preset, or a finely-tuned [Professional] calibration mode. The biggest reason for this is the GT30’s screen coating, which allows it to reject ambient light and deliver deep blacks in standard viewing environments. Importantly, the TX-P42GT30B also delivers a completely uniform level of black across the entire panel, and does so regardless of where the user is sitting. This is a Plasma television, so these two attributes are to be expected - but they’re still worth celebrating. These deep, uniform blacks act as a canvas for accurate, vibrant colors.
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