The Panasonic Viera PST30 series is available for under $600 and it is a serious content for best TV of the year.
It is 3D TV capable, has internet connectivity and most importantly produces stunning pictures.
To find out everything you need to know, read my Panasonic Viera ST30 series review to find out why the ST30 is one of the most popular TVs of the year.
Panasonic TC-PST30 Available Models
The Panasonic TC-PST30 series is available in six different display sizes, in all other respects their specifications are the same. Therefore this review can be applied to all models in the series. The models are as follows.
Panasonic Viera TC-P42ST30 3D Plasma TV – 42 Inch Display
Panasonic Viera TC-P46ST30 3D Plasma TV – 46 Inch Display
Panasonic Viera TC-P50ST30 3D Plasma TV – 50 Inch Display
Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST30 3D Plasma TV – 55 Inch Display
Panasonic Viera TC-P60ST30 3D Plasma TV – 60 Inch Display
Panasonic Viera TC-P65ST30 3D Plasma TV – 65 Inch Display
Panasonic TC-PST30 Video Performance
For its overall video performance the Panasonic TC-PST30 Plasma TV does an exceptionally good job, it is actually on a par with its more expensive THX certified bigger brother the Panasonic GT30! And when compared to rival plasmas in the same price bracket from LG and Samsung, the Panasonic ST30 is a serious contender for the best-in-class title.
If there is one criticism of the ST30 it is that for bright room conditions it would be nice to be able increase to brightness a bit further. However, do not let this put you off the ST30, in normal lighting conditions and especially for dark room conditions the ST30’s display brightness levels are more than adequate. And to be honest, if I hadn’t mentioned this, it would go unnoticed by the average user. But in a side-by-side comparison with other brighter (and more expensive) TVs, it can look a bit dim in brightly lit rooms. Sorry, but I’m probably being over critical here!
The good thing is that the ‘Cinema picture preset’ mode produces the best picture results with its default settings right of the box, so no need to fiddle with complicated picture settings here to achieve optimal results.
Anyway don’t let any of this take anything away from what has already been stated, the Panasonic ST30 produces seriously good pictures and is arguably one of the best TVs in its class. Don’t forget that the price of the Panasonic ST30 price starts at less than $700 !!!
Panasonic TC-PST30 Black Levels
Continuing this Panasonic ST30 review, I’ll get a little more specific about the various aspects of picture quality starting with the levels of blackness.
The Panasonic ST30 does a great job at producing deep and perfectly consistently blacks. It is as good as the more expensive Panasonic GT30 and the Samsung UND6400 in this respect. Black parts of images appear wonderfully dark and outperform the LG and Samsung plasma in this class. The ST30’s superior black levels and gamma allow it to bring out ultra fine shadows and finer details in the images on display.
Panasonic TC-PST30 Color Reproduction
Right out of the box the ‘Cinema preset’ mode produces the best results for color accuracy. Though the ST30 over-performs when it comes to levels of blackness by matching the more expensive Panasonic GT30, with regards to color accuracy, as you would expect the ST30 doesn’t quite match the GT30. However it still produces good color saturation with images appearing natural and vibrant.
Panasonic TC-PST30 3D TV Performance
The Panasonic ST30 3D TV picture quality is actually very good. Panasonic has invested heavily in the success of 3D TV. Panasonic uses active 3D TV (as opposed to passive 3D TV), and so the ST30 produce ‘full HD TV’ (full resolution 1080p 3D TV).
The ST30 produces very little 3D crosstalk (3D crosstalk is a ghosting effect and is bad), and despite its smaller price tag it compares well to the more expensive GT30. The ST30 does lose some of its levels of contrast to compensate for the active shutter 3D glasses by increasing the brightness, but this is something that most makes and models of 3D TV also exhibit.
The Panasonic PST30 doesn’t come with any Panasonic 3D TV glasses included as standard. You might consider this to be a good or bad thing, depending on your stance. If you’re not interested in 3D TV then you probably won’t be bothered and would rather not have to pay for 3D TV glasses that you will never use. But if 3D TV does interest you, then unless you can find a promotional deal that includes 3D glasses, you are going to have to pay extra for them.
However one good thing about Panasonic 3D glasses is that they are backwards compatible. Panasonics new redesigned 3D glasses work with previous generations of the Panasonic 3D TV (and vice versa old 3D glasses work with the ST30).
Panasonic TC-PST30 Design and Aesthetics
For me, design is an aspect of TVs which is over-hyped. Yes, it is very nice if a TV has a stunning design as well as producing great pictures. But, aesthetics aren’t at the top of my list of priorities when choosing a TV, they are an added bonus, picture quality is my top priority. This is not to say I would buy a TV with an awful design. Its just that there aren’t many TVs with outstandingly attractive aesthetics, most TVs look rather similar barring a few exceptions (Samsung LED TV for one).
So, what can I say about the Panasonic PST30 design. It’s absolutely fine, it won’t be winning any beauty contests any time soon, but it has a high quality, plain black design which exhibits Panasonic’s high build quality.
Job done as far as I’m concerned! In fact I am rather a fan of such understated TV designs (reflects my personality to be honest), ‘substance over style’ sums the ST30 up quite well!
Panasonic TC-PST30 Usability
The Panasonic menu design and layout is very good. In fact the same can be said about the remote control, which is good because together the make operating the ST30 a breeze. The menus look a bit plain in comparison to Samsungs (not necessarily a bad thing depending on your preference), the Panasonic menus are simple to navigate and Samsungs menus might be a bit overcrowded for some peoples tastes.
The ST30 comes with five picture preset modes, as already mentioned the Cinema preset produces optimal picture quality without any adjustments. The ‘Custom preset’ gives you the full range of picture adjustments including grey-scale, gamma and de-judder if you so require.
Panasonic TC-PST30 Connectivity
Connectivity options are fairly standard, there are 3 HDMI inputs, 1 component and 1 composite connection. A possible a minus point for some users is that there’s no PC video input. However, on the plus side the ST30 has a SD memory slot, an ethernet port, two USB ports and it includes a Wi-Fi dongle, saving you from having to purchase one for $80 (not all TVs at this price range include Wi-Fi).
Panasonic TC-PST30 Internet / Smart TV
Overall Panasonics Viera Connect (the name Panasonic gives its internet suite) is very usable. Panasonic redesigned their internet TV in 2011, prior to this it was a bit sparsely populated. The same can’t be said anymore.
Panasonic includes an almost complete range of all the major internet Apps including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Twitter and Skype but not Vudu and Hulu Plus. One notable addition which you may like is Shoutcast internet radio.
Panasonic TC-PST30 Plasma TV Review – Summary
Considering the Panasonic TC-PST30 starts at $700, it offers unbelievable value. The picture quality is excellent with perfect uniformity, deeps blacks, vibrantly accurate colors and robust video processing. With solid 3D TV performance and slick internet capabilities thrown in to the mix, for me, it really is the complete package and easy to see why it is regarded as one of best HDTVs of the year!