More good news concerns the P42VT30’s 3D pictures. Once again, they prove Panasonic’s plasma advantage in terms of crosstalk, as 3D images show practically no sign of the tell-tale ghosting at all. This in turn allows the P42VT30 to do a superb job of reproducing the full HD detailing that’s so characteristic of the best active 3D pictures.
If you switch the set to its Dynamic mode and ramp up the brightness a few notches from its preset level, moreover, you can also get a reasonably punchy picture by 3D plasma standards. With any of the other video picture presets dark colours tend to mutate into black, and shadow details are crushed into oblivion, making us think it would have made sense for Panasonic to have provided a dedicated 3D picture preset. Maybe next time.
Having lots of detail and no crosstalk with 3D pictures also helps the set produce a relatively untiring and convincing impression of extreme depth with good quality 3D sources.
The P42VT30’s 2D performance is perfectly acceptable, with good sharpness levels. But there’s a touch more noise than we’d ideally like to see, and with very low quality sources, the P42VT30 struggles slightly to retain the same degree of colour naturalism witnessed with higher quality images.
Overall, we’d say the P42VT30 does outperform the GT30 series, chiefly because of its class-leading black levels. However, we should add that the extra filter added to boost black levels does also seem to knock a touch of brightness out of the P42VT30’s pictures. With this in mind, if you’re looking for a TV to go into a room that’s prone to high ambient brightness levels, then you might actually be better off going for the GT30 series. The slightly reflective nature of the glass sheet across the VT30’s front underlines this train of thought.
We also found we had to work a little harder during calibration to get accurate colours out of the P42VT30, again potentially because of the impact of the extra contrast filter. But we certainly got there in the end, so ultimately this is no big deal.
Our only other gripes with the P42VT30 would be that the deep black levels feel a touch more forced than they do on our reference KURO plasma TV (in that really dark areas look fractionally crushed), and that very occasionally we spotted sudden shifts in brightness. But we didn’t feel that these occurred nearly often or drastically enough to make even a small dent in the P42VT30’s reams of strengths.
Finishing up with the P42VT30’s audio, it turned out to be... pretty good. There’s certainly more bass around than you get with many flat TVs thanks to the subwoofer on the set’s rear, but the main speakers lack the powers to go particularly loud or deliver the expansive mid-range we’d hoped for.
The P42VT30 is another stunning Panasonic TV, with class-leading black level response, wonderful detail resolution and the cleanest 3D picture yet seen. It’s also beautifully built and rich in multimedia features, as well as being reasonable value when you take into account the two pairs of 3D glasses and USB Wi-Fi dongle it ships with.
People with quite bright rooms might do better with the slightly less contrasty but seemingly slightly brighter pictures of the GT30 series, and the P42VT30’s 42in screen frankly left us gagging for something bigger. But neither of these ‘philosophical’ arguments stops the set from being state of the art so far as current 40-42in TVs are concerned.