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Panasonic DT30

31 Aug 2011 | Rasmus Larsen |

Panasonic DT30 review

Panasonic DT30 is a new Edge LED based LCD-TV from the popular Japanese TV manufacturer. Panasonic has produced some extremely popular plasma TVs in the recent years but their LCD/LED TVs have never really made it into the limelight. Here we will examine the DT30 with Edge LED, Viera Connect internet, 3D, and a new design.

Can Panasonic DT30 compete with TVs model such as Samsung D8000 and Sony EX720? And how good is 3D picture quality? FlatpanelsHD will answer that and more in this review.

Panasonic DT30 is available in 32 and 37 inches called TC-L32DT30 and TC-L37DT30 in the US and TX-L32DT30 and TX-L37DT30 in the EU.

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Size:37" widescreen
Resolution:1920x1080
Response time:-
Contrast ratio:-
Brightness:-
Color support:16,7 million colors
Signal processing: 8 for each color
Viewing angles (H/V):178/178
Dot pitch:
Panel type:Edge LED based LCD-TV
Wall mounting:
Swivel stand:
Dimensions (HxWxD): 53.6cm x 87.4cm x 3.3cm (without stand)
Weight15.5 kg
Built-in speakers:
Input formats: 480p/i, 576p/i, 720p, 1080i & 1080p (50, 60 & 24p)
Inputs
VGA
DVI (but possible to convert through HDMI)
Audio (type) (Audio in/out)
SCART (1 input)
S-video
Composite
Component
HDMI (4 inputs, 1 HDMI 1.4)
Other
Outputs
Audio (type) (1 output, headphones)
SCART
S/PDIF (optical)
Other
Tuners
Analogue
DVB-T
DVB-T (MPEG4)
DVB-C
DVB-C (MPEG4)
DVB-S
DVB-S (MPEG4)
Other

Price and retailer:

US retailerUK retailer


Our first impressions

Panasonic DT30 is a more modern and elegant TV than we have seen in a long time from Panasonic. The lines are clean and minimalistic and the TV is very slim.

Panasonic DT30 review
Panasonic DT30 review


The stand is rectangular and made from metal with an outer plastic cover. It has a manual swivel function.

Panasonic DT30 review
Panasonic DT30 review


On the bezel we found a discreet Panasonic logo and a small Viera logo at the upper left corner, Panasonic has kept the bezel almost clean; it is just a shame that the lower bezel section has SD, RealD 3D and 3D logos plastered all over it.

Panasonic DT30 review
Panasonic DT30 review


Inputs are found on the back of the TV and on the side. Unfortunately only one HDMi input points to the side. The rest are pointing to the back against the wall, which is impractical.

Test tools

Our TV signal is DVB-S (satellite) from Canal Digital and DVB-T (terrestrial). We also have an analogue TV connection. Testing is done with the DVE (digital video essentials) and Peter Finzel test DVD. Testing is also done with DVD, TV, Blu-Ray and Media center/PC.

We use our own monitorTest. The software supports some of the traditional test patterns used to evaluate displays as well as some new and unique test patterns developed by the people here on FlatpanelsHD.

Sony PlayStation 3 is our Blu-Ray player.

All contrast measurements are based on the ANSI methodology.

Functionality

Panasonic DT30 comes with Panasonic’s classic TV remote control. It has large buttons and is easy to operate but not exactly a design icon.

Panasonic DT30 review
Panasonic DT30 review


Viera Connect gives users access to internet services and an App Store called Viera Market. Through here you can download video-on-demand services, small games and more. DT30 also features USB recording (in Europe), DLNA and USB playback.

Panasonic GT30 review
Panasonic GT30 review


We have already examined the Viera Connect platform and the other media functions in depth in our Panasonic GT30 review so please see the GT30 review for more information.

Calibration settings
In the menus Panasonic DT30 has these picture setting options: contrast, brightness, colour, sharpness, color balance, vivid color, area dimmer control, eco mode, and P-NR.

In the advanced menu you can control: white balance (RGB), color management, gamma, IFC (Intelligent Frame Creation), Resolution Enhancer, and 16:9 overscan.

You can also choose from these picture modes: Dynamic, Normal, Cinema, Game, Photo, Professional1, and Professional2.

Energy consumption

Compare power consumption measurements on different TVs and monitors with our interactive power consumption applet here.


Below I have measured energy consumption on the Panasonic DT30.

Standby0.1 W0.1 W
SD+HD76 W65 W
3D83 W83 W


After calibration I measured power consumption to 65 W, which is typical for an Edge LED based TV.

Calibration on Panasonic DT30

Below you can see an out-of-box measurement on Panasonic DT30 in the Standard picture preset without Eco mode.

Panasonic DT30 review


The graph says this:

The number on the left is the delta value. Delta is a difference between two factors; here it’s the difference between the measured color on the panel and the actual color that is our target.

  • A delta value lower that 2 results in a visible deviation from the actual color.
  • A delta value over 4 or 5 results in wrong colors.
  • A delta value between 1 and 2 results in precise but not perfect colors.
  • A delta value lower than one results in almost perfect colors. The target is 0.
  • Everything between 0 and 1 is barely visible to the human eye.


  • The out-of-box settings are not very accurate and Panasonic has fallen into the same trap, as most LCD/LED manufacturers do, by boosting contrast so that the dark color shades are too dark (crushing shadow detailing). On the other hand color temperature is close to our 6500 Kelvin target. We measured 6752 Kelvin.

    I measured gamma rising from 1.6 in the dark shades to 3.1 in the bright shades, meaning that dark colors are far too dark and bright colors are too bright and intense. We aim for stable 2.2 gamma.

    Brightness was measured to 269 cd/m2. That is too intense for casual viewing but is easily solved with the picture settings.

    I switched to the True Cinema preset and took a new measurement. DT30 has no THX preset like Panasonic’s plasma TVs.

    Panasonic DT30 review


    The True Cinema preset is more accurate but DT30 still has some problems with the low end of grey tones, meaning that not all dark colors are perfectly reproduced. The color temperature is now just below 5900 Kelvin. We are aiming for 6500 Kelvin.

    I measured gamma from 2.05 to 2.6. Dark colors are still too dark and bright colors are still too bright. We aim to fix that during calibration. Panasonic DT30 also has a Cinema preset that is largely identical to the True Cinema preset that you see our measurements from in the above-shown graph.

    I moved on to calibrate Panasonic DT30 through the Professional1 preset that becomes activated after ISFccc is activated in the Setup menu. Here’s my result.

    Panasonic DT30 review


    The professional1 preset is based on the True Cinema preset and therefore gamma is wrong. There is a gamma setting – and advanced color settings – in the menu but Panasonic DT30 has not been designed with the adequate setting options. I am actually quite surprised that Panasonic would ship DT30 with these inaccurate and wrong gamma settings. The gamma setting in the menu does nothing to help us.

    I tried perfecting the gamma curve to our 2.2 reference target but it was almost impossible. I tried some different solutions that got me closer to the target, but this is a case of compromise. Therefore we ended with a solution that gave us fairly accurate colors but far from perfect shadow detailing.

    After calibration I managed to improve gamma, and gamma is now rising from 2.1 to 2.5. Color temperature is close to our 6500 Kelvin target but it is not 100 % accurate across the grey tone scale.

    Below are my calibrated settings.


    Viewing mode:Professional1
    Contrast13
    Brightness+1
    Colour:30
    Sharpness:1
    Color Remaster:Off
    EcoOff
    P-NROff
    Area dimmer control Off
    Gamma2.2
    Intelligent Frame CreationOn/Off
    Resolution EnhancerOff
    16:9 OverscanOff
    R-Gain+2
    G-Gain-5
    B-Gain2
    R-Cutoff0
    G-Cutoff0
    B-Cutoff+2


    I lowered the contrast setting in order to reduce backlight intensity. The brightness and gamma settings did little to help me improve gamma accuracy. Instead we tried to compensate with the RGB settings that have been changed.

    Panasonic DT30 also comes with more advanced color settings that might help improve color accuracy further but these have to be adjusted individually for each DT30 sample. However, perfect gamma tracking on DT30 is not possible with the provided setting option in my view.

    Picture quality on Panasonic DT30

    In this section I will go through picture quality with the calibrated settings.


    Panasonic DT30 has a matte panel and therefore very few reflections from windows and ceiling lamps in a typical living room. The matte coating does make pictures seem less vivid and a bit washed out during the daytime but that can easily be corrected by improving the contrast setting (backlight) or by enabling the automatic Eco mode.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    Color gradation is a term used to describe how well a TV distinguishes the small steps in color gradations. We use color gradients for testing color gradation. Panasonic DT30 did not impress us much in this area. Our color gradients had “bands”, meaning that not all colors are reproduced. We saw bands in the semi-dark area and especially the dark area.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    Before calibration Panasonic DT30 also had a tendency to “smudge” colors. In for example faces, the skin nuances seemed to smudge together, eliminating fine contours. I was able to remove some of the smudging effect after calibration – but I was never able to eliminate it. It seems to be a picture circuit causing these “smudge” issues – or just a poor color decoder. This “smudging” might not be of concern to all users but I saw it more than once – even without trying too hard. It seemed to primarily show up on human skin tones.

    SD picture quality is pretty good. Except for the occasional “smudging” (mostly in faces) detailing is quite high and DT30 reproduces moving images without much blurring. However, not all colors in the dark range are distinguished and therefore DT30 had a tendency to loose details in the darker areas of pictures.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    HD pictures are crisp and very detailing. Panasonic’s motion handling is very good, which also ensures that moving images are reproduced with a high level of detailing.

    I briefly touched on the response time subject in the SD picture quality section but let me try to elaborate. Panasonic DT30 uses a combination of ISF (intelligent frame creation) - that aims to calculate new images based on those received, thus making motion appear smoother – and scanning backlight, where a scanning line runs from the top of the TV to the bottom at a very fast refresh rate in order to reduce motion blurring.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    The scanning backlight system is a welcoming addition and it is activated even though we turn of IFC. We prefer to turn of IFC because even though it helps smooth out moving images it also results in a soap-opera effect in movies.

    The scanning backlight system helps Panasonic DT30 achieve this very fast response time. I saw minimal blurring on fast motion and I experienced no overdrive trailing, making DT30 ideal for sports and fast-paced action movies.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    Input lag was measured to 31 ms, which is fair but not great. If you are looking for a gaming HDTV we generally recommend buying a plasma TV because of the lower level of input lag and faster response time.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    Below I have measured black level and contrast.

    Black level0.43 cd/m20.27 cd/m2
    Brightness269 cd/m2133 cd/m2
    Contrast ratio626:1493:1
    Contrast ratio +/- 50


    After calibration I measured black level to 0.27 cd/m2, which is, at best,unimpressive. 0.27 cd/m2 black depth is nowhere near those inky black level found on Panasonic’s plasma TVs such as Panasonic GT30 or Panasonic VT30. It is also much worse than on competing Edge LED based TVs such as Samsung D8000, Sony EX720 and Sharp LE830.

    We did not expect Panasonic DT30 to perform in this area based on the fact that it uses an IPS panel but we did not expect such subpar results either. Another TV using an IPS panel is LG’s Cinema 3D LW6500 model but LG’s model reproduced 0.08 cd/m2 black depth.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    Shadow detailing is not very good either, simply because DT30 has too high gamma in the dark end of the grey scale (as discussed in the calibration section). We managed to improve shadow detailing after calibration but never to a level where we felt convinced. This means that dark details in movies and games tend to vanish in the dark areas of the image. After calibration I was unable to distinguish the 4-5 darkest grey tones from black.

    Below I have examined the Panasonic DT30 a completely dark room to see if it has clouding, backlight bleeding or floating black issues.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    Unfortunately our DT30 sample had some visible clouding and bleeding; not only along the edges but also across the panel. That is a shame but not untypical for Edge LED based LCD-TVs.

    3D picture quality on Panasonic DT30

    We used the PlayStation 3 and a 3D Blu-ray player to test 3D movies and 3D games. For a general introduction to 3D see our Panasonic VT25 / VT20 review.
    In this test I want to examine 3D depth, 3D picture quality, 3D crosstalk and finally include a small comparison to some of the other 3DTVs on the market.


    Panasonic has some of the best performing 3D plasma TVs on the market and we were obviously excited to see how Panasonic’s 3D strategy has been applied to their first 3D LCD-TV. Unlike all other TV manufacturers, Panasonic did not introduce a 3D LCD-TV model in 2010 and they have had time to perfect their efforts.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    First of all Panasonic DT30 is very bright and the loss of light from the active 3D glasses is more than compensated by the panel. The bright panel also helps Panasonic improve 3D pictures in very brightly lit rooms such as living rooms, compared to their 3D plasma TVs that tend to be a bit too dark for daytime 3D viewing.

    We were also surprised to see that Panasonic DT30 has a very low level of crosstalk. We noticed crosstalk in high-contrast movie scenes and games but I believe that DT30 is on par with the top-end of 3D LCD/LED models when it comes to 3D crosstalk. However, it is not as low as on Panasonic’s own 3D plasma TVs.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    The low crosstalk contributes to a fairly good 3D movie and gaming experience, which is perfectly enjoyable unless you are critical. On the negative side we have to highlight the glasses. Panasonic has a range of 3D glasses available to fit your needs but we are not very impressed with the shutter glasses / LCD-TV combination in general. As said in previous 3D LCD/LED reviews; the 3D effect disappears if you tilt your head to the side. On DT30 images tend to get darker and darker the more you tilt your head.

    For 3D gaming I still prefer 3D plasma TVs but all in all Panasonic DT30 provided us with surprisingly good 3D picture quality. It is – in my opinion – one of the best LCD-TVs in this area. We still prefer plasma TVs for 3D, however.

    PC and Media Center

    The TV supports 1:1 pixel mapping. In order to achieve 1:1 pixel mapping you need to select the aspect ratio called “16:9" in the OSD.

    Viewing angles

    The viewing angles are fairly wide, which was expected. The TV is based on an IPS panel and IPS is the LCD panel technology providing the widest viewing angles. However, colors do tend to lose some intensity from wide angles.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    The primary issue with IPS panels and viewing angles, however, is the fact that contrast is affected from wide angles, which results in black getting less intense and more greyish.

    Panasonic DT30 review
    Panasonic DT30 review


    Sound quality

    The speakers in DT30 are better than average. Bass reproduction is better than on most thin TVs and if you look closely you can see why. Panasonic has actually extended the lower region of the TV on the rear side to make room for proper speakers. And that move has definitely paid off.

    The speakers reproduce richer sound than we are used to from thin TVs and for casual viewing I feel that Panasonic DT30 provides more than adequate speakers.

    For movies, games and music I recommend separate speakers.

    Conclusion

    DT30 features all of Panasonic’s latest multimedia functions, including the Viera Connect platform with Viera Market, USB recording (in Europe), DLNA streaming and USB playback. Panasonic’s Viera Connect platform is promising and we expect to hear much more about it in the future, but at the moment it lacks content (and Apps). The Viera Market is certainly there to change that but we need to see more options. USB recording is very handy on the other hand.

    We have praised Panasonic’s plasma TVs many times in the past for their excellent picture quality and Panasonic’s dedication to accurate color reproduction. Unfortunately Panasonic has not transferred that vision to their LCD/LED models. The out-of-box settings are not bad on DT30 but we had expected more from the advanced picture presets in DT30. Panasonic seems determined to boost gamma and colors for more impressive picture characteristics instead of providing the same accurate picture characteristics found on their plasma TVs – and that is a shame.

    But Panasonic DT30 also showed strength; with response time being one area where DT30 impressed us. The fast response time will definitely please sports fans and maybe gamers (even though input lag is slightly too high). 3D picture quality is also one area where Panasonic has an edge over many competitors’ 3D LCD/LED models. We experienced very little crosstalk. I still believe 3D picture quality is better on Panasonic’s own plasma TVs, though. In other areas DT30 was a disappointment. We measured black depth to 0.27 cd/m2, which is far from today’s standard, and shadow detailing was not great either. Our DT30 sample also had some clouding / bleeding issues.

    To summarize, we find it hard to justify the high price point on DT30. In our opinion Panasonic makes some excellent plasma TVs with an extremely high value-for-money ratio but Panasonic seem to be taking a different approach with their LCD/LED models - and it failed to really impress us.

    Price and retailer:

    US retailerUK retailer


    Response timePoor black depth & shadow detailingLiving room
    3D picture qualityColor smudging Children’s room
    Viera Connect platformColor accuracy
    No overdrive trailingPrice
    USB recording (in Europe)Clouding / bleeding
    SpeakersBlack depth reduced from wide angles
    Inputs facing back towards the wall


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    Panasonic DT30 debate

    For questions and comments please visits this thread in our forums: Panasonic DT30 debate



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