CES 2011: TVs at CES 2011 Panasonic Viera GT30 series
Panasonic has three new plasma ranges lined-up for 2011: the ST30, top-of-the range VT30 and its core model, and what it hopes will be its best seller, the GT30. The GT30 is a full HD, 3D plasma display packed with all the latest Panasonic gadgetry.
Panasonic Viera Connect
A key change for 2011 is Panasonic’s enhanced internet TV offering, now called Viera connect. It features access to an app store of paid for and free apps, some limited web browsing and a Skype video calling option.
The addition of an app store brings Panasonic into line with what most of the other major brands are now offering (though they’re all a year behind Samsung). Apps can be downloaded and stored on the TV or accessed via ‘the cloud’ (the content providers server which streams apps to the TV on-demand).
See what the Panasonic GT30 can do in our video review
New name same old interface
It’s a pity that current owners of Viera TVs won’t be able to access the new Connect service through their internet TVs. Panasonic’s new Connect service will not be backwards compatible with its older Viera cast TVs, and vica versa.
Despite the change Panasonic has kept the same on-screen menu system – which is a bit of a shame. It looks quite odd and can be confusing, so it feels as if a chance of an overhaul has been missed. Wi-Fi is still an optional extra on Panasonic ranges (apart from the VT30).
Sound and vision
The panel is fairly slim (around an inch rather than the few millimetres of some LED models), but bulges out at the base to accommodate the speakers. Sounds ugly, but in fact the bulge is hidden round the back.
The picture should deliver the same wide viewing angles (a key advantage over the competition in the past few years) and audio performance stands a better chance of impressing thanks to the extended space allowed for the built-in speakers at the foot of the screen.
It’s a 3D TV of course, and if last years models are anything to go by, it should still be one of the best options for watching in 3D. The new glasses are a bit lighter and less bulky than last year, but are now an optional extra. Glasses only come supplied with the top-of-the range VT30.
New Viera design
Design-wise Panasonic has gone for a subtle, curved aluminium strip built into the black gloss panel. It’s more than a little reminiscent of the iPhone 4, but then that’s no bad thing.
It perhaps lacks the striking appeal of Samsung’s svelte D8000 but then Panasonic have never been the leaders in the looks department.