At the time of writing there’s no question that the amount of content on Viera Connect is lagging behind what’s available on rival online TV formats. But although we seem to have been saying this for an awful long time, it really does look like Viera Connect is finally going to get a substantial shot in the arm with the launch of a Marketplace, from which you can buy more apps and even physical accessories.
The sort of stuff coming very soon includes streaming games and an optional joystick to play them with, plus heart-rate monitor and treadmill accessories to use in conjunction with some new health and fitness apps. Panasonic has also recently opened its Viera Connect platform to third-party developers, which could potentially lead to an explosion in content in the coming months.
Should this happen, though, Panasonic will need to radically revamp its Viera Connect interface. For the dated-looking system currently being used really isn’t capable of handling the sort of content levels we’re ultimately expecting. One last point to make about the P42S30’s connections is that the LAN port doesn’t support streaming from DLNA PCs.
Heading into the P42S30’s menus, we’re reminded quite quickly that despite its Viera Connect bangs and whistles, this is, after all, a budget set. Calibration aids are fairly thin on the ground compared with sets higher up Panasonic’s TV range, with the lack of any serious colour management tools in particular making it no surprise that this set doesn’t come endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF).
The set does cling on to some picture processing tools, though. The most unexpected of these is Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation system for boosting motion reproduction, but we also got some joy out of a Resolution Enhancer, which makes standard definition pictures look sharper. In action, the P42S30’s pictures do betray their lack of Panasonic’s Infinite Black technology. For their black level response is clearly a good few steps behind that of higher-level Panasonic models like the P50G30 or, especially, any of the brand’s 3D models.
Still, it would surely have been too much to expect the P42S30 to deliver the same contrast performance as its more expensive siblings. And actually, when compared with LCD and rival-brand plasma models at the same sort of price level, the P42S30’s contrast performance is actually very good. Dark scenes only look slightly rather than extremely grey, and plasma’s self-emissive nature helps the screen deliver much richer levels of shadow detail than you tend to get with LCD technology.