The Panasonic TX-P55VT30 doesn't currently many of the sort of smaller apps pushed by LG's and Samsung’s Smart TV services, but this doesn’t feel like a great loss - especially as Panasonic is working on bringing sophisticated games to Viera Connect rather than the very basic affairs offered through a normal "app" system. All we would say is that a couple more good quality video sources would be handy sooner rather than later to help Viera Connect keep up with the online Joneses.
The P55VT30 is right up to speed with its multimedia playback facilities, though, offering full DLNA networking support as well as playback of music, photo and video (including DivX HD) files from USB drives or SD cards. Plus, as noted earlier, you can use the SD and USB slots for recording from the digital tuners.
If you’re on the ball, you may have noticed we said tuners rather than tuner back there, since the P55VT30 has both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners onboard.
The last thing to say before finding out if the P55VT30 lives up to our sky-high expectations (based on other sets we’ve seen from Panasonic’s current range) is that it enjoys the endorsement of both the THX quality assurance group and the ISF professional calibration body. The former endorsement applies to 3D as well as 2D playback, and extends to a provided THX image preset, while the ISF endorsement recognises the TV’s extensive picture adjustments, including a full colour management suite.
Watching the P55VT30 strut its stuff is every bit as spectacular an experience as we’d hoped it would be. This is particularly true with 3D, for the simple reason that a combination of Panasonic’s latest plasma technology and the full-HD active shutter 3D system delivers the full sharpness of 3D Blu-rays with extreme, captivating clarity.
Even better, this clarity remains hardly every unbesmirched by the dreaded active 3D phenomenon of crosstalk. Even tough crosstalk-inducing scenes like the lantern sequence in Tangled look almost perfect, making the P55VT30 the first 3D TV we’ve seen that’s able to do full justice to this 3D ‘showcase’ moment (though to be fair, the P42VT30 would probably have managed it too, had the Tangled disc actually been available when we were testing that set).
The effort Panasonic has put into boosting the brightness of its latest plasma TVs pays off handsomely with 3D too, with 3D footage looking much more satisfyingly vivid and well saturated once you’ve donned Panasonic’s 3D glasses. Particularly pleasing is the appearance of much more natural levels of shadow detail in dark areas, avoiding that crushed look to blackness that was our main concern with Panasonic’s 2010 3D plasma performance.
In a dark room we really have no complaint to make about the P55VT30’s 3D performance. Raising the lights, though, suggests that P55VT30’s extra contrast filter takes a touch of brightness out of the image compared with the brightness levels experienced with Panasonic’s GT30 models.