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42ST30 Impressions.

Wharfedale EVO4.1 Bookshelf Speakers

allajunaki

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Hi,
Before I begin, let me start by saying that I'm not as big a videophile as some of the guys around here. However, I can be considered as "Above average" in terms of video.

Let me start with the basics :
Cost of the TV : 70k
Showroom : Panasonic Brandshop Koramangala.
What else did I get with TV : 3D Eye wear ( I still dont have it. Should get it today)
Date of purchase 07-AUG-2011

Let me start with the obvious,
What? 70k?!?! for a 42" plasma. Yes it feels a bit overpriced. But let me assure you, you get your paisa's worth. It may not be value for money, but its performance for money. Well, all good stuff in this world are a lil overpriced, arent they ;)
I will not get into the story of my purchase, but it all boiled down to either this or Samsung PS51D550. I chose to go with smaller panny, contrary to most of the others who went for bigger sammy.


Looks
For some this is important. So I will cover it here. In one word, understated.
This TV looks plain and understated. You will have tough time convincing your neighbours and family that this is infact belongs to top drawer televisions on the planet.
No not that its bad looking, not at all. But it doesnt have any of the jazzy bezel like samsung and LG. I think panasonic's spartan looks very classy. TV looks like its built for a purpose, and it does not feel cheap, quite contrary, spend 5 mins, and you realize this is infact well-built TV.

Video (PQ)
Now this is where Panasonic shines. Blacks levels are very very good, contrast is amazing. Colors are well defined, they do have a slight purple hue, as observed by other members in avsforum and elsewhere. However, I doubt most of the people will notice it. Dont worry its not distracting enough, its mild and miles ahead of anything else you would find in most of the panels.
I like the "True Cinema" mode and "Normal" mode.

Panel brightness is sufficient, and I do not think I need any more. Contrast 50 is enough. Infact, I find true cinema a bit too bright for the dark room viewing.

However, as it has been discussed before, this panel is NOT as bright as the some of the other Plasma panels. This is due the filter present on the screen that robs some of its brightness.

The filter on this panel is designed to eliminate the washout of the panel, if there are overhead lights, and it works rather well.
Compared to my previous plasma, which had no filter, it used to suffer mild washout whenever we opened some of the curtains in the guest bedroom (Angle of guestbedroom was such that, the light from the windows of the room will indirectly cast off on TV). With the new panel, this issue is gone. Also, my previous panel used suffer very mild washout whenever there is an overhead light. This panel has no such issues.
The filter is designed to eliminate any light sources incident on the panel at 30 degrees or more. That means vertical viewing angle is restricted to 30 degrees. Anything more and the image starts losing brightness as we move away. So another thing to consider while getting this tv (or any tv with filters). However, horizontal viewing angle is at 173 dergrees. So no problem there. In any event LCD's have far worse vertical viewing angles.
Black levels are stable, but I do have an occasional Brightness pop (Search the net for Fluctuating Brightness level to know more). But the good news is Panasonic has addressed this. Im planning to take it up with Panasonic India, lets see how it goes. Its not as bad as other 2011 panels, but its there and when it happens you know it. FBr is a minor annoyance, and I wouldnt hold it against it since panasonic has already solved it, just not on my TV. It involves an EEPROM flash or replacement of A-Board, a 20 mins job. Apparently GT30 and VT30 suffers more than ST30.

I'm not fan of Motion Smoothing technologies. But I turned it on for some time to see how it does, and for the sake of this report. It works, all motion smoothened. As with any predictive technology, it does share a few miscalculations here and there. But it does mess up when there is a moving bright picture over subtitle. Its just in that area. In general it seems to fumble with Sharp contrast things around, like overlaid text or subtitles. But on the image itself it works rather well. And the effect is most apparent in movies.
Resolution enhancer works when feeding TV with SD Signal. Again, I did not have a chance to test it. Mainly because TS+ HD does the upscaling.
But I did set TS+ HD to 576p, and noticed that TV does a much better job at upscaling (Not saying much, anything will do better than TS+ HD).

There is a VIVID mode, which enhances the colors. It works as advertised, not a fan , turned it off.

Eco Mode or Contrast tracking based on ambient lighting. I like this, since it allows the TV to compensate for the lighting. The good thing is, this TV does in both ways. If there is strong light in the room TV will "Boost" contrast to match with room lighting. This is different from most the tv that only tones down the contrast and not boost it. So sometime when I turn on Eco Mode it actually boosts the contrast (espcially during day time with curtains open).

Also, one thing to note is that this TV has no "Custom" mode on video. However we can adjust any of the regular modes available on the TV. The international models have the "custom" mode with advanced controls, why Panny? why do you treat us like idiots?

Connectivity options
Tv features 4 HDMI ports, 3 USB and 1 SD Card slot with a few AV ports ( 1 Component, 2 Composite). It also features VGA and antenna in. HDMI port 2 features Audio Return channel. So any content I play from TV, will stream audio back to my Onkyo reciever via the connector that is used to connect it to tv.

TV on a wire
As with (all?) 2011 panny panels, this one features extensive internet options. We have youtube, facebook, twitter, shoutcast, bigflix, seventymm, dailymotion and bunch of others I have not heard of. Its DLNA complaint and can stream movies,music, pictures from all the media servers at my home. I can also send stuff to my TV from phone laptop etc. I believe this feature is called remote play. I think its one of the aspects of DLNA, and as such its a common standard.
However, this is only wifi-ready, which means you need to buy wifi dongle. The good news is it works with some of the third party wifi plugin dongles check this link : USB Information of VIERA 2011-year Models (Option 6_2a) | TV | Digital AV | Consumer Products | Support | Panasonic Global

It plays all the file formats I tried, including some of the HD content (720p).
However, TV pulls all the videos and represent it as flat set of files. For music all the folders are shown flat. While I appreciate the idoeology, I hate this implimentation. I for one prefer folder based navigation. My 1 TB harddisk took forever to show up.
Since I have HTPC and PS3, and since TV supports DLNA remote play. I dont think I will use the USB port all that much. But if you do, then make sure that you dont use something like 1TB hard disk with 1000's of videos (Literally, it has some 700GB worth videos, most of them in SD and some in HD).

Sound
Sounds reasonable. Has virtual surround and stuff. I have not tested extensively, since I have HT. But for usual stuff it sounded good enough.

3D
Tested 3D with Panasonic TY-EW3D10W (2010 Model). While there is definite 3D, there is some level of cross talk. I heard 2011 models have significantly lesser cross talk. Unfortunately this one is 2010 model. Anyways, 3D works well. Im planning to get Xpand X103 from US (as and when someone returns from there). I will need a second pair anyway for my wife :) . I tested this with Crysis 2 from ps3.
ps3 also has "play memories" which has some 3 pics. They were quite good with no cross talk to speak of. Its only when there are high contrast objects that I notice the faint cross talk. Also, there is a significant shift in color balance and brightness. This is mainly TV trying to compensate the for the dip in brightness for the 3D glasses. Anyways all TVs suffer inaccurate colors and lose some contrast when watching in 3D, this one is no expception. Also, 3d has some extra fatigue when compared with normal viewing ( Im sure all of you knew that). Anyways, I can seem myself using it occasionally, not on a regular basis.
 

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Last edited:

idlebrain

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Wow, I just posted this, and already 1 thank you! :) Idle brain, you have too much of idletime.. :D
:lol::lol::lol:

Yeah...This Morning I didn't have much to do. by the way That's a nice write up on your impressions without parity. Hope to hear more about this TV.

About the Brightness Fluctuations you mentioned:
GT30 and VT30 suffers more than ST30
.
Aren't they passing the Same fix of ST30 to the above models?

Thanks
Satya.
 

van

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thanks for the review...I am also planning to buy this Ptv but was holding back due to reviews on the 'Fbr' issue. You mentioned that Pana has resolved this and you plan to get this fixed...please share how you will be going about...getting this done and what cost.

Thanks,
VAN
 

allajunaki

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Im planning to pay Rs.0 to fix it. Since this is their problem, and they are giving 3 year warranty.
But I'm yet to follow up with them. FBr is not a big issue. Definitely not as big as some of the forums make it out to be. But then again GT30 and VT30 has this issue more frequently than ST30.

Yes, fix is for across these 3 models.
 
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van

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do you mind sharing the source where got this info on the 'fix'.

Good to hear that the 'FBr' is not a big issue...had read on this in various forums n had me change my decision to drop the 2011 xT30 models n had decided to go with U30 instead...now i am seriously (re-)thinking of going for ST30.

Also in the above pic i see that there is a door to the right...i will also have a similar setting...a window(big) very much at the same location as the door in your setting...wanted to know if there was any picture washout in the ST30 if the door was open and light falling at an angle on the TV...kindly let me know on this...

Thanks,
VAN
 

panny.v

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thank your review !

how does it perform compare to V20 black level and PQ
does it have motion artifact issue ?
 

allajunaki

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I cannot compare, since I dont have v20 :D
But From the reports, this is very close to VT25. Black levels are lil worse off than last year model, but no floating blacks this year.
Honestly, I dont see any motion artefacting. Ofcourse, I'm talking about when all the so called smoothing features turned OFF (call me old school, I like my picture unaltered as far as possible).


thank your review !

how does it perform compare to V20 black level and PQ
does it have motion artifact issue ?
 

van

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Nope, no washout.

Check towards the end of this thread. Most of the people get their A-board replaced or EEPROM flashed. That pretty much fixes FBr Issues.
2011 Panasonic Fluctuating Brightness Master Discussion Thread

:)

Thanks for sharing the great posting on this issue...i also read in the same post...that pieces manufactured in August & beyond of this year will already have the fix for this issue...hope this is true for pieces being shipped to India...:rolleyes:

Can you suggest any content that i can carry on a pen drive to test for this FBr issue...i plan to visit some shops this weekend for another round of demo

Thanks,
VAN
 

BLASTO

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Cost of the TV : 70k
Date of purchase 07-AUG-2011

Let me start with the obvious,
What? 70k?!?! for a 42" plasma. Yes it feels a bit overpriced.

Hey allajunaki.. When the 50V20 is selling for just 8k more, Is there a reason you preferred this 42" for 70k? Were you looking for 3D or the performance is so much more great than the V20?

How does it compare with your LG? ;)
 

allajunaki

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Hi Van,
Apologies, I was out of town for the most part of last week.

FBr issues are triggered by certain transitions. However, its very subtle, and you may not notice it at showroom. Having said that, there are contents available on youtube that triggers this condition. I have noticed this issue only about 10 times so far.... So getting the right condition may not happen always.
I will let you know if there any content that I have that triggers this (blu-rays or dvd's).
 
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allajunaki

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Hey allajunaki.. When the 50V20 is selling for just 8k more, Is there a reason you preferred this 42" for 70k? Were you looking for 3D or the performance is so much more great than the V20?

How does it compare with your LG? ;)

for starters This tv itself was a healthy 10k over my budget. Another 8k would have broken my back (In other words, my wife would have)

3D was another reason, Though I plan to use it occasionally. Also the fact that my wife does not like the looks of v20 series ( Too understated :cool: ).

Lastly, Wife was not in favor of putting up 50 incher, when our viewing distance is 6-8 feet.
 

Kartik

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for starters This tv itself was a healthy 10k over my budget. Another 8k would have broken my back (In other words, my wife would have)

3D was another reason, Though I plan to use it occasionally. Also the fact that my wife does not like the looks of v20 series ( Too understated :cool: ).

Lastly, Wife was not in favor of putting up 50 incher, when our viewing distance is 6-8 feet.

Super review allajunaki. Thanks for taking the time to post it. This TV is at the top of my list and I'm doing research on it. Last year I decided to skip the 42V20 because of all the issues I read but this year I hope to take the plunge. Am planning to buy it from the same place as you did and my wife also does not agree for the 50" :)

The FBr issue is giving me pause and I would have thought that in August the TVs we get will have the EEPROM flashed or the A board replaced right from the factory. What is the date of manufacture of your TV?

Need to take a look at that huge movie stash of yours :D:D:D
 

devh5

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Does the PQ of ST30 come close to that of V20? If so this one would be on the top my list for purchase. V20 is available for 55k. another 15k for 3d??? is it worth it? I assume it is worth it
 

allajunaki

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FBr issue is corrected in newer ones. Unfortunately, the model I got is April 2011.

ST30 pq comes pretty close to V20 AFAIK. Honestly, if you can get hold of brand new v20, and if internet features and hdmi 1.4 is not of importance, then by all means go for it!

3D is a feature that you will hardly use. Simply because of the fatigue associated with 3d. 3d on ST30, while good, should not be a basis for purchase decision IMHO. What this TV does bring , due to 3d, is a faster acting phosphor, which reduces ghosting and other artefacts.

You can always get a xtreamer or WDTV to get the internet features. And HDMI Audio Return channel is useful only while playing content directly off tv. You can always use optical out from v20 to address that need (if you have HT).

So in short, no, 15k is not worth it over v20. BUT, its any day worth over a "Display Piece" v20. I myself was looking for v20. But all I got was display units.
 

allajunaki

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I almost forgot to add :
One place you always get FBr. NatGeo HD has a sequence that they show between programs with a nice background music. One which says "Real Flowers" "Real Balloon" .. etc.
In the end they show NAT Geo Logo. At the point of showing the logo, the FBr issue pops up. That is the most prominent FBr. I have noticed so far. Its WAY more subtle in normal television content.
 
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devh5

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Hi, Thanks for the reply. i would wait for one more month and see how the st 30 goes on and so. will wait for any offers during festival season. BTW i read some where in forum FB issue can be addressed by selecting CATS off from picture menu. Is that so?
 

allajunaki

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Nope, CATS or ECO mode as it is called in Indian models, only govern contrast with respect to ambient light. FBr is more to do with the way Panasonics process picture. I have eco mode off most of the time, and I still see FBr at times.

Hi, Thanks for the reply. i would wait for one more month and see how the st 30 goes on and so. will wait for any offers during festival season. BTW i read some where in forum FB issue can be addressed by selecting CATS off from picture menu. Is that so?
 
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devh5

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hi, regarding FB here is what i got. Hope to get the set after a month
:):yahoo:The picture quality of this television is really outstanding. It is however compromised by an issue common to all 2011 Panasonic plasmas known as "Fluctuating Brightness". About a half of a second after a scene change there is sometimes an instantaneous change in the overall brightness of the screen. Full discussion of this issue can be found by Googling: "panasonic 2011 fluctuating brightness".

Panasonic, to their credit, has recognized this as an issue and has come up with a solution that eliminates it. All sets produced after August and have a serial number of "xx1215xxxxxx" or higher will have new software installed that eliminates these brightness fluctuations from happening. If you have an earlier model and notice these fluctuations, contact Panasonic and let them know. They should either schedule a Panasonic employee to flash the software to your EEPROM, or they will schedule a 3rd party tech to replace your A-Board with one that already has the new software installed. In my case, they replaced the A-Board. Since then I have not seen any fluctuation and I am now completely satisfied with my set's remarkable picture quality.

Otherwise this television is exactly what I was looking for. Great price, superb picture quality, good Internet connectivity and interface. 3D is nice for future-proofing but it wasn't something I was actively looking for, but Panasonic sets with the best 2D picture quality are all 3D capable. Panasonic's menu interface seems a little more dated than their competitions, but it is simple and straightforward which makes it very functional without any extra eyecandy. The ST series is a great value if you don't need the somewhat fancier styling of the gt or vt series, or the thx certified picture mode, or the extra connections (st lacks vga, and has 3 instead of 4 hdmi ports). Also the st is the only series to offer the 42" size screen. For me it all boils down to this being the perfect television for 2011 now that Panasonic has given us a solution to the problem of Fluctuating Brightness.
 
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