The extra brightness Panasonic has been able to tease out of its 2011 screens additionally helps deliver more colour vibrancy and general 'punch' to Panasonic's 3D images. Though before you get too carried away by this discovery, it has to be said that the P46GT30's 3D pictures don't look as bright and punchy as those from Samsung, Sharp and LG. They also don't look quite as full of detail as those witnessed recently on the Samsung PS51D550, PS51D8000 or UE46D8000.
Colours still look natural and subtly delineated even if they're not as dynamic as some, though. And overall, the P46GT30's freedom from distracting crosstalk noise and its extreme black level response are enough in themselves to continue Panasonic's reign as our 3D TV of choice.
The P46GT30 is also a mighty fine 2D TV. Without any 3D glasses on pictures look much more dynamic, with good colour vibrancy and reasonably potent peak whites sitting side by side with the stunning black levels that have become a Panasonic plasma trademark.
The slight loss of detail noted during 3D viewing disappears when watching 2D HD on the P46GT30, leaving such pictures looking excellently sharp without this sharpness leading to the exaggeration of source noise.
There's some pretty exquisite subtlety in the way the P46GT30 renders HD colour schemes too, helping them achieve a level of naturalism and depth that's very unusual to find on a TV at the P46GT30's mid-level price point. Motion generally looks great on the P46GT30, not least because the set's plasma technology pretty much precludes the sort of blurring and smearing that you see with many LCD TVs.
The only exception to this is that the set struggles with a bit of judder when watching standard definition 50Hz feeds. This can be tamed pretty successfully by calling in the set's provided Intelligent Frame Creation motion processing system, though if you're one of those people who hate such systems on principle, this probably won't seem like a very satisfactory solution.
With the P46GT30 serving up some extremely watchable standard definition pictures, the only other small problem we could find was that occasionally the set's brightness level seemed to 'pulse', for want of a better word. But while we know some people have found themselves getting quite irritated by this, we personally didn't find it happening often or severely enough to really be a problem. Certainly not enough of a reason in itself to turn our backs on the other immensely positive qualities the P46GT30 brings to the table.
Many potential buyers of the P46GT30 will be keen to use it as a gaming monitor as well as a TV. So it's nice to be able to report that we measured a mere 26ms of input lag using the screen's game mode, which is low enough to preclude any serious lag-related problems with your gaming performance.
Wrapping up with the P46GT30's sound, it's better than that of most mid-range 46in TVs - a result most likely of the screen's exceptionally robust build quality. There's a nice, open feel to the mid range, and the set has enough 'breathing room' to expand its sound when pushed by an action scene. The only catch is that our test sample ran with a residual buzz - seemingly caused by some sort of fan-based cooling system - that occasionally could be heard during very quiet sequences.
VerdictWhile recent TVs from LG and Samsung in particular have reminded us that Panasonic could still do with injecting a little more brightness into its 3D pictures, overall the P46GT30 renews our belief that we as AV enthusiasts would rather watch 3D on a Panasonic plasma TV than any other TV right now.
And with the NeoPlasma technologies developed to improve 3D also boosting its 2D pictures to frequently sublime levels, it's hard to think of a reason why the P46GT30 wouldn't find itself at least bagging a spot on any serious TV buyers' audition list.