Panasonic VIERA TH-P50UT30A 3D plasma TV
Panasonic’s cheapest 3D plasma is good value for money
- Good picture quality
- Good motion control
- Value for money
- App interface and variety could be better
- Default settings don’t look great
As the cheapest possible 3D plasma TV available from Panasonic, the VIERA TH-P50UT30A has a lot to deliver: it’s a 50in screen that can be found for under $1000, with built-in Web apps and video on demand. Premium features are at a minimum, but anyone wanting them can easily purchase an appropriate Blu-ray player with these extras built in.
Price$ 1,299.00 (AUD)
Panasonic VIERA TH-P50UT30A: Picture quality
We found that the default Home settings for the Panasonic VIERA TH-P50UT30A were too bright and high-contrast, robbing detail from both highlights and shadow areas of the The Dark Knight Blu-ray we used to test the screen’s Full HD performance. We can’t stress strongly enough the importance of calibrating your television to suit both bright and dark variants of your viewing environment — getting a professional ISF-certified technician to do this is always advisable, especially if you have a high-end TV that has the appropriate settings for fine adjustment.
We opted for switching the TV into the True Cinema mode in our dimly-lit test room, lowering sharpness and screen brightness until we found a pleasing setting.
What initially surprised us with the Panasonic VIERA TH-P50UT30A was how well (for a $1299 RRP TV, under $1000 with some bargain) it displayed Full HD video content. We tried The Dark Knight, Terminator: Salvation and Planet Earth Blu-rays on the VIERA UT30A and found that its levels of detail weren’t far off Panasonic plasma TVs costing $1000 more. The main difference that exists is with overall image contrast, with more expensive panels revealing more highlight and shadow detail in video — the Panasonic UT30 can’t quite extract the detail in the darkest shadowed areas of the The Dark Knight opening scenes.
The default settings of the Panasonic VIERA TH-P50UT30A rob it of valuable image detail -- but can be fixed.
The Panasonic UT30A’s internal TV tuner and free-to-air digital TV playback is OK, but not great — some images, especially on standard definition channels, look slightly smudged. The same is true of DVD video, which doesn’t look as detailed or as crisp as we’ve seen on more expensive televisions this year. The difference is mostly academic, though — unless you’ve got the televisions side-by-side you’d be hard-pressed to find a discernable difference.
As well as true 3D playback, the VIERA UT30 can simulate 3D with a 2D-3D mode.
We tested the VIERA TH-P50UT30A with Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs in 3D, and found a few instances of stereo cross-talk, where the 3D glasses can’t perfectly create a tri-dimensional effect and object edges look blurred. This is most prevalent on scenes of fast motion and doesn’t generally detract from the majority of the 3D viewing ‘experience’.
The VIERA UT30 also impressed us with its handling of on-screen motion. This is an area where plasma screens are immeasurably superior to LED and LCD TVs: take the rolling of the credits at the end of a movie as an example. The VIERA UT30 doesn’t display any visible stuttering or break-up in the image, where some LED and LCD sets look like a flickery stop-motion movie. Similarly, wide panning shots in our Planet Earth test footage looked clean and didn’t flicker.
Panasonic VIERA TH-P50UT30A: Conclusion
Buying accessories for the VIERA UT30A drives the price up, but even with a few pairs of 3D glasses and the optional Wi-Fi adapter (or a Wi-Fi-enabled Blu-ray player) this is a cheap and accessible plasma TV. If you can find a good special on 3D glasses, stock up on them and use the UT30A as a distraction for precocious kids and teenagers. We think the VIERA TH-P50UT30A hits a great compromise between low price and good image quality and features.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HP Stream 11 laptop
- 2 Acer Chromebook 11 (CB3-111)
- 3 Asus Zenbook UX303LN Ultrabook
- 4 Samsung's Galaxy Alpha review: A peek into the Galaxy S6
- 5 Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro hybrid Ultrabook
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
Latest News Articles
- North Korea wants joint probe into Sony hack, warns of consequences if not
- Staples says hack may have compromised 1 million-plus payment cards
- Judge questions evidence on whether NSA spying is too broad
- Three ways enterprise software is changing
- T-Mobile to pay $90M for unauthorized charges on customers' bills
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.