For those that want the very best picture quality, the Panasonic TC-PVT30 series, including the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55VT30, stands above any other TV. Black levels set the current standard and are the best of any TV since Pioneer discontinued its well regarded Kuro line. Though black levels that dropped over time were a concern with Panasonic sets the last couple of years, testing at CNET holds the promise that the issue is a thing of the past.
Color performance holds as much potential as the set's black-level performance, though some compromises are required. Picture brightness in the set's THX mode, which accurately recreates the image quality seen in a well designed and properly operating movie theater, is dim, which means things won't look their best in a well-lit room. Some reviewers needed to do a bit of tweaking to find a compromise between performance that is technically accurate and one that looks good to the eye. The dim brightness also means that a dark room is almost essential for 3D (as the required glasses cut down light from the screen even more). Finally, the screen is a bit reflective, also an argument against using this TV under bright, or even moderate, lighting.
When it comes to features, the TC-P55VT30 is loaded. Of course, 3D is part of the line up, and most critics, including some that aren't huge fans of 3D to begin with, say that the TC-P55VT30 is the best performing 3D HDTV they've seen to date. The experience is enveloping, and last year's worst shortfalls -- such as crosstalk -- are well controlled. Panasonic includes one pair of glasses in the box; however, extras are fairly pricey (*Est. $180 each).
Panasonic's Viera Connect Internet streaming platform is a big improvement compared to what the company offered last year, and the addition of Hulu Plus at the end of the summer stepped things up even more. There's also an app store where third-party developers can hawk or give away their creations. You can also stream movies, music and photos from your computer. Some reviewers like the streaming media interface, saying it's more pleasant to use than some in some other sets, but others complain that it seems slow and awkward. Wi-Fi is not built in, but Panasonic packs an adapter in the box.
Cost is a bit of a concern. If you can accept black levels that are a touch lighter, some experts recommend sets in Panasonic's step-down TC-PST30 series, including the 50-inch Panasonic TC-P50ST30. Blacks are a little -- but not a lot -- lighter, features are similar, and value is excellent. If a 55-inch screen isn't big enough for you, the Panasonic TC-PVT30 is also available in a 65-inch screen size as the Panasonic TC-P65VT30. If you need a top-performing TV that plays well in bright spaces, the 55-inch Samsung UN55D8000 is an LED backlit LCD TV that doesn't match the black level performance of the TC-P55VT30 but doesn't miss by all that much. Some issues with screen uniformity are concerning, and it's actually a little more expensive than this Panasonic plasma TV, but it's loaded on the feature front and most aspects of picture performance are graded highly.
We found a lot of feedback for the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55VT30. CNET offers a review that's balanced and well detailed, but is still presented in a way that won't leave nonvideophiles dazed and confused. Those that want to get deep into the technical performance of this plasma TV will find the reports at TelevisionInfo.com and FlatpanelsHD.com most satisfying. Reports at TrustedReviews.com, Home Theater Magazine and Sound + Vision magazine are also worth a read. ConsumerReports.org weighs in with its evaluation as well.
CNET puts the Panasonic TC-P55VT30 to the test and reports that the picture quality is the best it has seen this year. David Katzmaier appreciates the rich black levels, but he runs into some issues with color performance and energy consumption. Features are terrific, but the price tag is a worry.
Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT30, David Katzmaier, Sept. 1, 2011
Technically advanced buyers will find plenty of gritty details to plow through in this lengthy report on the Panasonic TC-P55VT30. As is its custom, TelevisionInfo.com finds some things to complain about. In this case image brightness and the streaming Internet interface come in for the most scorn. Still, David Kender says if you can look past that, the TC-P55VT30 is a "really great TV, in most regards."
Review: Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 HDTV Review, David Kender, May 23, 2011
FlatpanelsHD.com, based in Denmark, provides another technically sophisticated review of the Panasonic TC-PVT30 series of plasma TVs. Picture quality is highly praised, and the series, which includes the 55-inch TC-P55VT30, earns a Highly Recommended award.
Review: Panasonic VT30 Review, Rasmus Larsen, April 27, 2011
TrustedReviews.com provides a detailed but not technically overwhelming evaluation of the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55VT30. Cost and low brightness are the downsides, but stunning picture quality in 2D and 3D more than make up for that. In the end, the TC-P55VT30 earns a rating of 9 out of 10 as well as this British site's Recommended award.
Review: Panasonic TX-P55VT30 Review, John Archer, June 15, 2011
The Panasonic TC-P55VT30 is included in ConsumerReports.org's current ratings of plasma TVs. Testing is conducted, ratings are included, and opinions are proffered, but the discussion is short compared to that on other top review sites.
Review: Plasma TVs, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
6. Home Theater Magazine
Following an extensive, hands-on review, the Panasonic TC-P55VT30 impresses enough to take home a Top Pick award. Thomas Norton praises the picture performance and features.
Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT30 3D Plasma HDTV, Thomas J. Norton, Aug. 1, 2011
7. Sound & Vision Magazine
The Panasonic TC-P55VT30 earns this site's Certified and Recommended award. Still, reviewer Al Griffin finds some imperfections -- including a THX mode that "could stand to be more accurate." Overall, though, Griffin finds that watching the TC-P55VT30 is a "highly satisfying experience."
Review: Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT30 3D Plasma HDTV, Al Griffin, Sept. 20, 2011