The pace of evolution of flat panel televisions is staggering. We’ve seen plain LCD TVs evolve into ultraslim LED backlight displays in under a decade. Plasma televisions have been around all this while, but customers haven’t really adopted them, due to a number of reasons. First, there was the price and the higher power consumption rate. Recently, we reviewed one of the best LED-backlit TVs around – the Sony KDL-55HX925. The biggest and the most happening plasma television TV around is the Panasonic P65VT30D. It’s being talked about all over the web and if you’re looking for a top-end plasma display, this should be in the list and we’re going to be reviewing it

Lightweight active 3D glasses

Lightweight active 3D glasses

Earlier last year, we received the Panasonic P65VT20D – the massive 65-inch plasma television. Plasma televisions rarely offer the slim designs that one can find on LED-backlit and traditional LCD TVs. Plasma TVs are known for their sizes and this P65VT30D model is even more impressive than its predecessor. Of course, a plasma TV these days is more than just a TV. This particular P65VT30D model boasts of a number of features, including 3D in high-definition.

 

On Video: Panasonic VIERA TH-P65VT30D

Design and Build Quality
A 65-inch television, such as this is massive and unlike other plasmas in the market, it’s not really bulky. Sure, it’s heavy, but it’s not as thick as other plasma TVs. The P65VT30D is just over an inch in thickness, keeping it on par with some of the LCD televisions found in the market. The bezel surrounding the display isn’t as thin as some of the LED backlit LCD panels, though and measure some two and a half inches wide on all sides. To add to the elegance, Panasonic added a thin silver strip that protrudes slightly outwards from the sides. A feature of this TV is that it uses a single sheet of glass design, giving it a neat look. There’s one physical button on the front bottom towards the centre, which is the power button. It flushes neatly against the bezel and it’s hard to notice – not really a problem, since almost all of us use the remote control.

The downward facing rear connectors

The downward facing rear connectors

The physical controls for the TV are placed on the right side of the screen, facing the rear. All the input and output connectors are located on the left, at the back and these inputs and outputs are down and side facing. This enables one to mount the television against a wall and not have wires hanging outwards from the back. Connectivity options include a SD card slot on one side, a digital audio out port, USB ports and HDMI ports. The downward facing I/O options include the RCA connector for traditional cable TV connections, the ability to connect to the Internet via an Ethernet port, component, composite and other ports. Cooling has been taken care of by the four fans that are housed underneath the metal back panel. There is not much heat emitted from the television, in comparison to some of the other plasma TVs that we reviewed.

The stand of this TV is pretty large and like the rest of the TV, it too has a black glossy finish. The television remains stable on the stand and it ought to be, considering the size and weight. The remote control that came bundled with the television is littered with buttons. This is mostly the norm with remote controls that come with smart televisions. The quality of the buttons is good, and can withstand the wear and tear of daily usage over a considerable period of time. The television uses active 3D glasses and they look pretty stylish. The glasses aren’t very bulky, so those with spectacles can wear them without much problem.Remote feels sturdy

Remote feels sturdy

Summing up the design and build quality, this is a stylish looking television, despite its big size. The build quality is quite good as well, but due to its glossy finish, one can expect a fair amount of residue from fingerprints on the bezel.

Features
The Panasonic P65VT30D uses a top of the line plasma panel – it’s being called a NeoPlasma panel. The advantage it has is that it consumes less power, as compared to other plasma panels. Panasonic claims that the panel offers better picture quality in 2D as well as 3D, better black levels and wider viewing angles. Considering its price, it’s bound to be an impressive panel, but whether it’ll perform better than a top of the line, LED backlit display, is to be seen.

The simple appearance of the interface

The simple appearance of the interface

The interface of this television is pretty intuitive and the home screen features widgets, such as options for Viera link control, photo, video, music, Viera connect and media server. Everything has been streamlined – for example, plug in an external drive and a preview of the clips show up when you access the Videos section. It’s same with the Photos menu – a background tune plays when you’re browsing. Users can choose to disable this music, switch between three presets or select a user defined track. The settings of this television can be accessed via the menu button on the remote control and while in this main menu, one can tweak the settings of the picture, sound, timer and setup.

Then, there are the others found on any other high-end TV today – 3D support and for those who don’t have ready 3D content, there is an option to convert 2D to 3D instantly, on-the-go. One of the neat things about the TV is that you can switch between modes by pressing a dedicated buton on the remote control. Some other TVs require you to go through complicated menus to enable the 3D mode. Media playback has been taken care of well. The television can read both NTFS as well as FAT32 drives, which gives one the ability to view content easily on this large screen by merely plugging in the drive. HD 1080p content is supported across all formats.

The controls at the side are easily accessible

The controls at the side are easily accessible

The TV can playback a range of media formats, such as Motion JPEG, MP4, DivXPlusHD, MKV, WMV, JPEG, etc. Apart from the above mentioned features, the TV also has capabilities, such as Viera Connect, DLNA, a refresh rate of 600Hz and Panasonic’s V-Audio ProSurround, which they claim provides clarity, rich sound as well as lifelike dialogue. Overall, the features of the Panasonic P65VT30D are very impressive.  

Performance
A whole barrage of performance tests were run on the TV, ranging from the DisplayMate test to Blu-ray and videos played off a PC.

To get the maximum out of the television, here are the settings we used settings from AV Forums.

Standard colours appeared accurately

Standard colours appeared accurately

Contrast 35
Brightness 0 (default)
Coulor 30 (default)

Gamma:
2.2
10IRE -11
20IRE 0
30IRE 0
40IRE 0
50IRE 0
60IRE 0
70IRE -2
80IRE 1
90IRE 1
100IRE 0

White Balance:
RG -9
GG -6
BG 9
RC 2
GC 0
BC 0

Detailed:
IRE10 -7, 1, -11
IRE20 -6, 0, -13
IRE30 -2, 0, -5
IRE40 0, 0, -3
IRE50 1, 2, -4
IRE60 3, 0, 3
IRE70 2, 0, -2
IRE80 0, 0, -4
IRE90 -2, 0, -1
IRE100 -3, 0, -3

Color Management:
Values:
RH 0
GH -3
BH 11
RS -3
GS -11
BS 20
RL -4
GL -7
BL 14

YH 6
CH -2
MH 5
YS 2
CS -2
MS 0
YL -2
CL -2
ML -5

While running the DisplayMate test, we noticed that the black levels were really good and most of the dark grey blocks were visible. Colours overall reproduced well. A few minor glitches were present – for example, a slight discoloration is noticed when the mouse is placed on the middle bar in the pixel tracking test, but no moire patterns are noticeable. In the reverse video test, greens and reds are not accurate over all three bars. There were no patches noticed in the glare test and screen appeared even throughout. Though the black levels were really good, they are not the best we have seen. Standard screen colours appear accurate and in the colour intensity scales test, no hues changed with intensity. All scales were clearly visible and no bleeding was noticed throughout any of the colours.

Colour triangle

Colour triangle

We ran a couple of in-house test Blu-rays through an LG Blu-ray player and we noticed that the video quality was really great. We tweaked the settings around a little bit to get the optimum performance out of it and after the settings were changed, we noticed that the colours appeared natural and sober and images onscreen appeared smooth and there was no judder noticed, whatsoever. While LED backlit TVs appear to be very clinical and very precise, the P65VT30D plasma offers a softer, more pleasant viewing experience. Everything seems balanced and there are less of the harsh, ultra-sharp details found on LCDs, reminding you of large CRT TVs.
Performance Continued
The volume levels of the television are pretty good and at 25 percent, sounds were quite audible. We then used a Philips Blu-ray player to test the same Blu-rays and just like with other Panasonic TVs in the past, we were faced with the issue of ‘sending preset data.’ After this message popped up on the screen, the television became unresponsive. To get the television to start working again it had to be restarted. It is a strange issue, which we face with this Blu-ray player and Panasonic HDTVs.

Colour intensity scales test

Colour intensity scales test

We connected the television to a 320GB external drive with a NTFS partition. We noticed that the load times were a bit long, while navigating through the Videos menu. The feature previews videos on the screen before you actually play them, so there’s a little more load on the USB interface, which in turn slows it down. It took us roughly 20 seconds before we were able to start playing videos off the drive. The video playback quality through the external drive is really good and one can enjoy home videos shot in 1080p or 720p on this TV. We played music and the volume is pretty loud, clear and crisp.

Colour gradient test

Colour gradient test

We used the 2D to 3D simulation feature, while watching Blu-rays and playing videos through the external drive. We noticed that the 3D quality was pretty good and the feature was better implemented on this one, than it was on its predecessor. While watching videos in this mode, we saw that there was some flicker noticed, if one tilted their head slightly. The glasses that came with it are extremely comfortable to use and even though they are active 3D glasses, they can be used for a longer period of time, unlike other active 3D glasses. The remote control is very responsive and one does not need to point it at the TV for it to work. Overall, the performance of the television is really good and once the settings are tweaked,  it has the makings of being the best plasma TV in the market, currently.

Verdict
An impressive television, such as the Panasonic P65VT30D doesn’t come cheap. In India, it has been priced at an MRP of Rs.3,79,900. It’s also extremely stylish with a one sheet glass design and with the thickness close to a LED LCD television, there’s few reasons not to want one. The performance of this television is way better than most LED LCD TVs in the market, as of now. There were no backlighting issues noticed and it was even throughout. Very sober, natural colours and even backlighting make it one of the best plasma TVs out in the market today.

One of the slimmest plasma televisions available in the market

One of the slimmest plasma televisions available in the market

This television is designed for those who have a big house with an ample amount of space to place it in. If you’re in the market looking for a large sized television with no price constrains, then this could definitely be an option worth considering.

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