Panasonic’s new plasma range has already caused a stir here at TrustedReviews with the terrific mid-range 50in P50GT30. So it’s fair to say we’re pretty excited by the arrival of the P42VT30, since the VT part of its name means it belongs to Panasonic’s new flagship plasma range, and so will hopefully turn out even better than its cheaper sibling.
First impressions are good, as heaving the P42VT30 out of its box reveals that it’s extremely well built by today’s standards, weighing a ton and feeling like it’s been hewn from a single block of metal before having a big glassy top-sheet slapped across its front.
The top sheet runs over both the screen and the bezel, meaning Panasonic has finally delivered one of those ‘one-layer’ fascias that seem so fashionable these days.
Behind the P42VT30‘s slinky exterior lies Panasonic’s NeoPlasma technology. We covered this during our P50GT30 review, so we won’t go over the same ground in detail again. All we’ll say here, briefly, is that NeoPlasma TVs use a new, faster-responding phosphor material; slimmer ribbing between plasma cells to boost brightness and efficiency; a reduced plasma discharge level; and a new 'louver' filter to reduce ambient reflections and boost image brightness.
There is one extra element to mention given that we’re looking at the P42VT30 instead of the P50GT30, though: the marvellously named Fishbone ITO. Only used on models smaller than 50in, the Fishbone ITO is a new design for the structure of the electrodes used to address each plasma cell. The ITO bit stands for indium-tin-oxide, which provides a highly transparent electrically conductive surface when attached to a glass substrate.
Before going any further, it’s probably worth detailing the ways in which the VT30 series differs from the GT30s. The most potentially significant difference is the inclusion in the VT30s of an extra high contrast filter. Given how outstanding the contrast of the GT30 models was, the prospect of what this extra VT30 filter might do is mouth-watering.
The VT30 models also ship with Panasonic’s Wi-Fi USB dongle included rather than just available as an optional extra. Even better, the VT30 models come with two pairs of Panasonic’s active shutter glasses included as standard, whereas the GT30 series ship with none.
This is a big deal considering that these active shutter glasses cost around £100 each, and goes a long way in itself to explaining the P42VT30’s price hike over the GT30 series.
The VT30 series should also sound better, as it enjoys a new speaker configuration comprising front-firing dual-range stereo speakers and a boxed bass woofer on the panel’s rear.
Finally, where differences are concerned, you can record to SD card or USB HDDs on the VT30 models, whereas with the GT30s you could only record to USB HDD.
Other key P42VT30 specs include a full HD resolution (Panasonic remains the only brand offering full HD on 42in plasma screens); Panasonic’s 600Hz ‘sub-field drive’ system and Intelligent Frame Creation motion processing; endorsement by both THX and the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF); and an unprecedented (for Panasonic) degree of set up flexibility. This includes white balance, gamma and colour management tools, including control over the secondary colours (cyan, magenta and yellow) that you don’t get with the GT30s.