For the last couple of years Panasonic's best plasma has been the most highly anticipated TV review on CNET, and 2011 is no exception. The top-of-the-line Panasonic TV-PVT30 series is the most clicked-upon TV on our site and my most asked-for review on Twitter, and despite its coming in No. 2 in our to-review poll to the flagship Sony, we're confident that no other TV commands the same expectations.
Contrast ratio is the most important aspect of a TV's performance. More than any other single metric, a set's contrast ratio will be the most noticeable difference between two TVs.
That is, if you could juxtapose them. Which you can't. Or if you could compare their claimed specs. Which you can't.
Understanding what contrast ratio is and how to judge it will help you determine the best TV for your dollar. But it's a lot harder than it sounds.
In its simplest form, contrast ratio is the difference between the brightest image a TV can create and the darkest. In another way: white/black=contrast ratio. If a TV can output 45 foot-lamberts with a white screen and 0.010 ft-L with a black screen, it's said to have a contrast ratio of 4,500:1.
Unfortunately, it gets more complex from there. … Read more
Today a representative for Panasonic told CNET that a design change in the company's 2011 plasma TVs allows them to maintain a relatively constant depth of black, or black level, over their life spans.
The change represents an improvement over 2009 and 2010 designs, which evinced worse black levels as they aged, as tested by CNET.
"The engineers made significant changes to the internal panel materials...to improve the luminous efficiency of the panels," said Bill Schindler, technical consultant to Panasonic. "In so doing they had a byproduct effect, which allows them to not adjust the … Read more
When Panasonic detailed its 2011 plasma TV lineup at CES this January, we immediately pegged the TC-PST30 as the one model that "might hit the value sweet spot." After putting it through its paces we're going to eliminate the uncertainty from that phrase.
The TC-PST30 ($1,350 for the 50-inch size) may lack the THX certification of its more expensive brother the TC-PGT30, but picture quality between the two is largely a wash, and excellent overall in both cases. Both share identical, well-stocked feature sets, highlighted by improved Internet suites, Wi-Fi dongles, and 3D capability (albeit sans … Read more
Televisions are unlike other consumer electronics products. Their setup and settings have a tremendous effect on how well they perform. The best TV on the market incorrectly setup will almost always look worse than a mediocre TV setup well.
Ideally, you'll get a setup disc to ensure the correct settings, but regardless, it's important to know what each setting actually does.
To get the ultimate performance out of your TV, a full calibration by an ISF Certified technician is your best option. Even if you go that route, it's good to know what the calibrator is adjusting. So here's a quick look at the basic settings every TV has, and what they do.… Read more
The GT30 sits in the upper-middle end, a notch below the company's 2011 flagship in panel technology and, we assume, picture quality. It's not without its flaws, but it's still a superb TV overall that sets the bar high once again--although it's not a significantly better performer than its less-expensive (albeit plainer-styled) line-mate, the TC-PST30 series. The Panasonic TC-PGT30 series belongs on the short list for buyers who want the advantages of plasma in a thin form factor but don't want to pay the premium for a flagship TV.
Update May 5, 2011: The introduction … Read more
The TC-PS30 series is Panasonic's least expensive plasma TV for 2011 to feature 1080p resolution. The main features-related difference between it and the TC-PST30 series is that the S30 lacks the ability to display 3D TV.
We also expect there to be some differences between the picture quality of the two, because the ST30 uses Panasonic's so-called Infinite Black 2 panel, whereas the S30 does not. Because of this difference, we suspect that the S30 might have worse black-level performance than the ST30, but until we test both, we won't know for sure.
Both models have similar … Read more
Moving is always a time-consuming, life-upending experience, but it can also be an opportunity to rework, rewire, or completely redesign your multimedia setup. Having just moved 60-odd boxes, plus furniture, from one end of SoHo to the other (well, the movers moved, but I packed), that's the situation I currently find myself in.
As a native Manhattanite, I know going into any new apartment situation requires savvy use of minimal space. And in fact, while my new place is a larger than my old one (with an extra bedroom for the summertime arrival of Ackerman Jr. and a private … Read more
Update August 16, 2011 Since this article posted we have reviewed a number of 2011 Samsung TVs, but we can't review them all. We can speculate, however, as to how some of the un-reviewed models, further detailed below, compare with the ones we did review.
We reviewed the UND8000 series and expect it to perform similarly or somewhat better than the UND7000, and we expect both to have similar uniformity problems.
Panasonic's 2011 plasma and LCD TVs have just begun shipping, so the company took the opportunity to officially announce pricing and availability today, as well as divulge a few more details about the TVs.
Before you get too excited, however, I'll mention that the company was not talking about its flagship VT30 series, one of our Best of CES 2011 nominees and odds-on favorite to be the best-performing TV of the year. I'm guessing they'll wait until April, when the 55-incher ships, to stage a separate press event all about the VT30.
We've covered the … Read more