The P55VT30's slight brightness reduction follows through into 2D playback too, so if you’re looking for a TV to go into a rather bright room, the GT30s may perhaps be a better bet (if you can live with the GT30’s maximum 50in screen size).
In most other ways, though, the P55VT30 is as accomplished with 2D as it is 3D. HD sources look nothing short of magnificent, thanks to a jaw-dropping combination of acute sharpness and detailing, vivid yet brilliantly natural colours and, most amazing of all, a vast contrast range that includes black levels even deeper than those already witnessed on the GT30 series.
The impact of both the detailing and black level response delivered by the VT30 series is emphasised by the 55in size of the screen. The 3D experience also benefits hugely from such a large screen. Even standard definition pictures are surprisingly watchable on the P55VT30, despite the obvious challenges for Panasonic’s processing in stretching standard def sources to a screen size as large as 55in. They could look a touch sharper perhaps, but at least they’re not horribly noisy, and retain credible colour saturation.
One last positive to report is that the screen suffers minimal input lag. We measured under 30ms, which means gamers shouldn't have their performance reduced when playing on a P55VT30.
The P55VT30’s huge picture quality talents don’t extend to perfection, though. We’ve already pointed out that the filter that helps the screen delivers its amazing contrast performance also compromises the screen’s brightness slightly. Also, during standard def PAL viewing the image can suffer a little from judder, even producing, during camera pans, double imaging around stark image elements such as the lines on a football pitch.
This can be controlled reasonably effectively with the help of Panasonic’s on-board Intelligent Frame Creation system though.
We can't end without mention a few remaining niggles. The P55VT30’s sound isn’t quite as potent and dynamic as we’d hoped given its speaker configuration (though it’s still above average); Panasonic’s 3D glasses remain the most uncomfortable around; and finally in the negative column, you can’t get round the fact that even at the reasonably discounted price of £2,500 we’ve tracked down, the P55VT30 is hardly cheap. But then we guess Panasonic just couldn’t afford to deliver the innovations that help this TV deliver the goods so well if it didn’t charge a premium for them.
The P55VT30 can handily be summed up as being simply the best ‘mainstream’ 3D TV ever, its size and technological prowess coming together to create a near perfect living-room 3D experience. What’s more, the technology that helps its 3D look so good also makes it a brilliant 2D performer. So while the P55VT30 will certainly put quite a dent in even the healthiest of bank balances, as Hollywood likes to say, the money is all up there on the screen.