For those that want the very best picture quality from any current TV, The Panasonic TC-PVT30 series, including the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55VT30, should be at the top of your list. Black levels are why, with experts saying that they are the best that's been seen since Pioneer's legendary Kuro sets went out of production. Panasonic has been plagued the last two years by complaints over black levels that dropped by design (to maintain a high contrast ratio over the life of the set). According to a report at CNET, Panasonic has said that a new panel has made those dropping black levels a thing of the past and testing thus far seems to bear that out.
Most experts say that color performance is excellent as well, especially using the THX preset and after a little fiddling. CNET, however, struggled to find a compromise between colors that measured technically perfect and those that looked best in its eyes. One issue is that picture brightness is on the dim side. That means things look best in a darkened room, and the active-shutter glasses needed for 3D reduce that further -- to the point where a dark room is needed for 3D to be satisfying. A screen that's somewhat reflective doesn't help bright room performance, either.
Panasonic has loaded this TV with features. 3D is included, and most experts -- even those that aren't huge fans of 3D to begin with -- say that the TC-P55VT30 is the best 3D HDTV for the home they've yet seen. The experience is immersing, with artifacts like crosstalk well controlled. Panasonic includes one pair of glasses in the box; however, extras are fairly pricey (*Est. $180 each).
On the Internet streaming front, Panasonic's Viera Connect platform is big step up from last year's effort, and the August addition of Hulu Plus has stepped things up even more. Following the trend among TV makers, there's also a smartphone-like app store where third-party developers can hawk or give away their wares. DLNA compliance, for streaming movies, music and photos from your computer, is part of the package as well. Some reviewers applaud the streaming media interface, saying it's simpler and easier to use compared to those in some other sets, but others call it slow and awkward. Wi-Fi is not built in, but Panasonic includes an adapter in the box.
Perhaps the biggest downside is this TV's cost. If you can accept black levels that are a touch lighter, some experts find lots to like in sets in Panasonic's step-down TC-PST30 series, including the 50-inch Panasonic TC-P50ST30 (Discontinued) . Blacks are a step behind, but not a big one; features are similar; and value is terrific. If a 55-inch screen isn't quite big enough for you, the Panasonic TC-PVT30 is also available in a 65-inch screen size as the Panasonic TC-P65VT30 .
We found a lot of feedback for the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55VT30. CNET does a great job with a review that's balanced and reasonably detailed, but not so much that non-videophiles will become dazed and confused. Those that want to dig 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 well done. ConsumerReports.org also weighs in with its evaluation.
CNET puts the Panasonic TC-P55VT30 to the test, and finds it to be an excellent performer -- the best it has tested so far in 2011. Deep black levels are well appreciated, though reviewer David Katzmaier struggles a bit to get the colors exactly to his liking. Features are pleasing, but the price tag is not.
Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT30, David Katzmaier, June 2, 2011
Technically sophisticated shoppers looking for deep insights into a TV they are interested in will find all that they want and more in the detailed, multi-page reports at TelevisionInfo.com. Reviewers there are unflinching when it comes to criticism, and openly say that they've yet to find a perfect TV. The TC-P55VT30 is no exception. Brightness is one negative, as is the streaming media interface. However, David Kender says if you can live with those issues, this Panasonic plasma TV is a winner.
Review: Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 HDTV Review, David Kender, May 21, 2011
Denmark's FlatpanelsHD.com provides another technically oriented review of the Panasonic TC-PVT30 series of plasma TVs. Though the site calls the improved picture quality in these sets evolutionary rather than revolutionary, it is still said to be a fantastic TV and it is granted a Highly Recommended award.
Review: Panasonic VT30 Review, Rasmus Larsen, April 27, 2011
Britain's TrustedReviews.com takes the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55VT30 out for a spin and delivers a detailed but not too technically dense evaluation. Cost and limited brightness when set up properly are the negatives, but stunning picture quality in 2D and 3D more than offset that. As a result, the TC-P55VT30 earns a rating of 9 out of 10, and a Recommended award.
Review: Panasonic TX-P55VT30 Review, John Archer, June 15, 2011
The Panasonic TC-P55VT30 is included in the current ratings of plasma TVs at ConsumerReports.org. Testing is done, ratings are provided and opinions are offered, but the depth and helpfulness of the discussions fall short of many other top reviewers.
Review: Plasma TVs, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
6. Home Theater Magazine
The Panasonic TC-P55VT30 earns Top Pick honors here following an extensive, testing-based review. Both picture performance and features come in for high praise.
Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT30 3D Plasma HDTV, Thomas J. Norton, Aug. 1, 2011
7. Sound & Vision Magazine
Al Griffin notes some imperfections with the Panasonic TC-P55VT30 -- including a THX mode that "could stand to be more accurate." In the end, though, watching the plasma TV for 2D or 3D entertainment is a "highly satisfying experience," so much so that it earns a Certified and Recommended award.
Review: Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT30 3D Plasma HDTV, Al Griffin, Sept. 20, 2011