Also on board is the highest level of Panasonic’s V-Real Pro processing technology, and the brand’s ‘600Hz’ Sub-field Drive technology for increased stability, solidity and judder reduction. But likely of more interest to readers is a decently well-stocked suite of picture adjustments.
Panasonic has been notoriously tardy about putting control of the subtlest picture adjustments in the hands of the general public, but it’s finally got with the programme, bagging endorsements from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and THX in the process.
Among the most significant of the tweaks Panasonic has opened up on the P46VT20 are a colour management system (even though there’s room for improvement with this in terms of both flexibility and presentation) and a handful of gamma presets.
Also tucked away in one of the P46VT20’s rather obscurely organised onscreen menus is a facility for adjusting the potency of Panasonic’s motion smoothing system, Intelligent Frame Creation. We appreciate that some of our readers won’t touch this with the proverbial barge pole, at least with Blu-ray movies. And it’s true that on its higher settings it does make film look like video, and can generate a few processing artefacts. But on its lowest setting it can also slightly diminish the issues with judder that are one of the only consistent bugbears we have with Panasonic plasmas, so we’d suggest you at least try it out. If you hate it, then just leave it off!
Starting out with the P46VT20’s 3D pictures, our response to them is immediately slightly different to what it has been before. Not because we don’t still think they’re mostly excellent, but because the imminent arrival of the first true 2nd-generation 3D TVs has given them a slightly more transitory feeling that makes us more conscious of their failings.
These failings are centred around two areas: the image’s brightness, and Panasonic’s glasses. Regarding the first of these issues, Panasonic readily admits that its 3D images lose as much as 80 per cent of their brightness when you’ve got your active shutter glasses on - a fact which can result in some lost shadow detail and slightly crushed dark colours, as well as a slightly muted general look to 3D pictures - even when the set has pumped up its brightness and contrast levels to counteract the impact of the 3D tech. The lack of brightness is all the more striking now we’ve seen what’s incoming from some of the new LED 3D screens.
However, provided you can watch them in a reasonably dark room, the brightness reduction caused by the 3D glasses isn’t intolerable by any means, and doesn’t diminish from the natural, sharp, and clean look of the P46VT20’s 3D playback - or its deep black level response. These strengths underline what remains the key and for us deciding factor about the P46VT20’s 3D efforts: their almost complete freedom from the dreaded crosstalk noise witnessed on all LCD 3D TVs (CCFL and LED) to some extent.