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Panasonic Viera GT30 (TX-P46GT30B) review: Panasonic Viera GT30 (TX-P46GT30B)

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The 46-inch, 1080p TX-P46GT30B sits in the middle of Panasonic's new line-up of 3D plasma TVs. It includes a number of advanced features to help keep cross-talk to a minimum, so 3D pictures should be free of double images and blurring. The TV also offers improved support for Internet services and a rejigged menu system. It can be yours for around £1,400.

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9.3

Panasonic Viera GT30 (TX-P46GT30B)

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The Good

Extremely deep black levels; stunning colours; top-class 3D performance; good range of features.

The Bad

Design could be slicker still; more Internet services would be welcome.

The Bottom Line

The 46-inch Panasonic Viera TX-P46GT30B is an outstanding TV. Deep black levels and rich colours make standard- and high-definition content look wonderful, while its 3D performance is also top-class. We've no hesitation in recommending this plasma beauty.

Laid off the pies

Of all the major manufacturers, Panasonic made the most boring-looking TVs last year. Thankfully, the TX-P46GT30B goes some way towards addressing this. It's much slimmer than last year's GT20 models, and the subtle brushed-metal effect on the bezel is rather appealing. It's still not as classy as the latest designs from LG and Samsung, but Panasonic has at least made up some ground on its rivals.

Panasonic has also been lagging behind in terms of the range of Internet services on offer, and it has had a very oddball approach to BBC iPlayer. On many of its previous sets, iPlayer was only accessible if you used the freesat tuner, rather than the Freeview tuner. Thankfully, the TX-P46GT30B's iPlayer app is now properly integrated into the main Viera Connect menu, so it's accessible whether you're using the freesat HD or Freeview HD tuner.

There's also a decent line-up of other Internet services, including the Acetrax movie-rental service, Dailymotion and YouTube. Overall, though, the content on offer still isn't as good as that on Sony's Internet-connected Bravia TVs.

Nevertheless, the TX-P46GT30B does have plenty of other neat features. It supports DNLA media streaming, so you can watch movies from your computer on a big screen. We had no problems playing back high-definition MKV and DivX files across our network. You can also play digital media files either via USB or the TV's SD card slot.

On top of this, if you connect a hard drive to one of the two USB ports, you can record programmes. Annoyingly, however, you have to format the drive to work with the TV first. 

The BBC iPlayer service is now accessible directly from the Viera Connect menu (click image to enlarge).

The menu system has also had an overhaul, adding more user-friendly graphics, as well as some more advanced picture-tweaking controls.

None more black

The TX-P46GT30B really excels when it comes to picture quality. Panasonic has managed to improve this set's black levels to such a degree that it's difficult to see how they could get better in the future. The black levels help to deliver pictures with really stunning contrast levels and excellent shadow detail. This, combined with supremely natural colour reproduction, helps movies on Blu-ray to really look like the director intended. The set's 'resolution enhancer' also does a good job of upscaling standard-definition TV, adding in extra sharpness without making pictures look noisy.

The latest generation of LED-illuminated LCD TVs seems to be getting on top of the 3D cross-talk issue, but plasma technology is still leading the way in the third dimension. Last year's GT20 TVs were excellent in this department, so it's no surprise to find that this GT30 set is also a top 3D performer.

The set's 3D images are almost totally free from cross-talk, making them look more solid and natural, so you really get to enjoy the impressive sense of depth on offer. The brightness of the panel also goes some way towards reducing the dimming effect of the active-shutter glasses and helps to improve the impact of movies like Tron: Legacy in 3D. The GT30 also allows you to slightly adjust the depth setting of 3D images, so you can tweak them if you don't like the way the 3D disc has been mastered.

The TV's audio is impressive too. This model is quite slim for a plasma set, but Panasonic has added a slightly thicker edge at the bottom to allow it to house larger, down-firing speakers. Consequently, unlike many slim TVs, the TX-P46GT30B is actually a very solid sonic performer. Dialogue punches through background soundtracks well, and even the bass has a decent amount of kick to it.

Conclusion

The Panasonic Viera TX-P46GT30B is an incredibly accomplished all-rounder. Its standard-definition channels look great, and movies on Blu-ray are simply superb. Add in top-class 3D performance and some neat extra features, like USB recording, and this is a set that's easy to recommend.

Edited by Charles Kloet