|Name||50-inch plasma TV: Panasonic TH-P50VT30|
|At a glance:||Fantastic image quality with deep blacks,Handles upscaled content well,3D capable with active shutter glasses,Weak online experience|
|Summary:||Great image quality and a big range of home entertainment features are let down by a very basic internet offering.|
If you watch Blu-Ray and other high-definition material, the Panasonic 50-inch VT30 plasma TV will delight. Once set up, the picture quality from the G14 panel with Infinite Black Pro filter and 6,144 hues is excellent, especially with 24p Blu-Ray films.
DVD and TV content upscales rather well too, unlike some other HD TVs that struggle to get this important feature right.
The set handles 3D, with no discernible crosstalk. Furthermore, being a high-end set, the VT30 supports THX and ISFccc professional modes for image calibration.
There’s a full complement of connectors on the VT30, with four HDMI inputs (one with audio return channel), three USB ports that can be used for cameras, USB drives and corded keyboards.
It’s also possible to use the VT30 as a rudimentary PVR (personal video recorder) with an SD card (up to 64GB) or USB drive; however, thanks to digital rights management requirements, content will only play back on the set it was recorded on. The card or drive has to be formatted before recording , which is annoying as you can’t use them elsewhere after.
You hook up the VT30 to your LAN and the Internet either via a supplied Wi-Fi stick that supports both 2.4 and 5GHz, or through a wired Ethernet port that runs at 100Mbps. Unfortunately, there’s no gigabit-Ethernet support.
The LAN smarts are good on this set: pictures, transcoded video and audio can be streamed over DLNA, and the built-in media player understands a large range of file formats.
Internet access on the VT30 is through Panasonic’s Viera Connect portal with apps in a grid that are easy to navigate with the remote. A small number of IPTV services such as WOW TV are available, some free, others charge US$ for movies.
Oddly enough, there’s no web browser but you do get social media apps for Facebook; Twitter; and Skype, with an optional camera. Panasonic’s Internet offering is the weak point of the VT30; a pity as otherwise, the set is excellent.