The L37DT30 makes good use of LED lighting’s innate light output advantage over plasma, too, to deliver 3D images that retain plenty of brightness even with Panasonic’s shuttering 3D glasses on.
Colours aren’t quite as rich looking as those of some other 3D TVs, most notably those from Samsung and LG. But this is, as we’ll see, a general - and not necessarily bad - characteristic of the panel, rather than being a specific 3D issue.
The 37in screen also does a better job of allowing you to see all the minute detailing in full HD 3D Blu-rays - though as noted in our review of the LG 42LW550T, passive sets of a small to medium size can look more ‘HD’ with 3D Blu-rays than you might imagine.
With the L37DT30’s impressive motion handling abilities ensuring that resolution isn’t lost in 3D when there’s a lot of action going on, there’s no doubt that it delivers the premium LCD 3D performance to date.
The screen’s 37in size also helps it produce a greater sense of sharpness and clarity when watching 2D HD sources, and emphasises the striking clarity of its motion handling. In fact,
bright 2D HD scenes look quite superb on the L37DT30, especially as the general clarity is underlined by some outstandingly subtle colour delineation. As noted, saturations aren’t as intense as on some rival models, but that certainly doesn’t make them less believable. Arguably the opposite is true, in fact.
However, while the L37DT30’s 37in size proves helpful in emphasising the range’s strengths, it also brings extra attention to its one significant shortcoming: contrast. As noted with the L32DT30, if you turn off the set’s local dimming function - which happens automatically if you select the set’s True Cinema preset - then the set’s black level response really doesn’t look very good at all, with really quite striking grey clouding over dark scenes.
Turn the local dimming feature on, and the set’s black level response instantly improves dramatically. Which is great. The problem is that the much better black levels come at the expense of backlight consistency, as the local dimming engine - which is working with an edge LED lighting system - causes ‘clumps’ of extra brightness to appear around any bright objects that happen to be appearing against dark backgrounds.
This isn’t a regularly annoying issue while watching normal TV, as this favours predominantly bright, colourful content. But with most films we tried, there were at least a few scenes where the continual brightness adjustments and the lack of light consistency within a single frame were impossible to ignore.
In a bid to finish on a bit higher note, we should draw attention to the L37DT30‘s reasonably - if not profoundly - clean and open soundstage; the fact that the L37DT30’s pictures retain their colour and contrast from a slightly wider viewing angle than normal LCD TVs; and best of all, an input lag using the screen’s Game picture preset of under 30ms, which makes it a great bet for console gamers.
If you’re looking for what’s currently last word in smallish 3D TV performance, Panasonic’s L37DT30 is it. Especially as the wearing of active shutter glasses ‘dims away’ the contrast flaws noted with 2D viewing. However, these contrast concerns do undermine the set’s 2D performance enough to stop us from being able to raise the L37DT30 to the 9 overall score level we’d hoped for.