Panasonic announced its new Viera TV line-up at its annual product convention in London’s Excel arena, revealing a renewed commitment to plasma TV and an expanded range of LED TVs.
All ten UK ranges (six plasma, three LED and one LCD) feature Freeview HD tuners as standard, with mid to high-end models including Freesat HD tuners and Viera connect, Panasonic’s new internet app store. A dozen new 3D TVs ranging in size from the 32-inch LED DT30 to the 65-inch plasma VT30, complete the line-up.
To find out how Panasonic’s 2010 line-up fared in our tests check our full LED, LCD and plasma TV reviews.
Panasonic picture quality
Panasonic claims to have placed picture quality firmly at the heart of its new strategy, with the Japanese brand promising that its new TVs will have blacker blacks, smoother motion, brighter displays and less 3D crosstalk (double images caused by an overlap of right and left images).
It claims fast switching phosphors and ambient light filters should mean even deeper blacks and better 3D pictures on its new GT30, ST30 and VT30 plasma ranges, while its new LED TV flagship model, the DT30 will use its ‘fastest’ ever panel – 400Hz.
Panasonic claims the 400Hz software should prevent crosstalk on 3D pictures, by increasing the number of frames per second on screen and reducing the time lag from switching from one frame to another.
Goodbye traditional LCD
But amid all the fanfare, Panasonic also revealed the virtual extinction of its traditional LCD TV line-up, a favourite of Which? viewing panels in the past. Out of its dozen new ranges, only one was LCD, the entry level, HD-ready C3 series.
In the place of traditional LCD models are three ranges of LED TVs. Though still LCD TVs (but with a different type of back-lighting) the typically slimmer sets sometimes sacrifice decent audio for slimline looks and can sometimes look quite cold and clinical in comparison to traditional LCD.
Of course 3D TV has a part to play in the manufacturer’s 2011 strategy (Panasonic predicts global 3D TV market share will grow from 8% to 30% in 2014), but with far less of the fanfare of 2010. Nevertheless, Panasonic seems wedded to following up its success of 2010 (its market share increased by 10% for 3D TV over 50-inches in size from April to December 2010), with an expanded range of plasma 3D TVs: the ST30, GT30 and VT30, plus for the first time, LED 3D TVs in the shape of the DT30 range.
The top-of-the-range VT30 comes supplied with two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses, but they’re sold separately on all the other models. Panasonic has updated the design of the 3D specs too, making them lighter than last year’s version, but not noticeably more comfortable.
Panasonic currently has the edge in the 3D market with its 2010 VT20 range.
Just like virtually every other TV manufacturer at CES 2011, Panasonic reiterated the importance of internet TV to its future ranges by ‘evolving’ its Viera cast service into Viera connect. It looks similar to the old cast system but with an app store open to third party developers. Notably Panasonic has shunned the full web browsing capabilities being pursued by rivals LG, Samsung and Sony.
New apps include ‘Ustream’, enabling users to upload their own video content, a new gaming app aimed at casual gamers and the addition of the social networking site ‘Facebook’.
For more on connected TVs check our free Internet TV guide.
The 2011 UK models in full
C3 HD-ready, 42 and 50-inch
S30 Full HD. 42-inch
G30 Full HD, Viera Connect. 42, 46 and 50-inch
ST30 Full HD, Viera Connect, 3DTV. 42, 46 and 50-inch
GT30 Full HD, Viera Connect, 3DTV, slim design. 42, 46 and 50-inch
VT30 Full HD, Viera Connect, 3DTV, slim design, built-in Wi-Fi, 3D glasses included 42, 50, 55 and 65-inch
C3 HD-ready, LCD. 24 and 32-inch
E3 Full HD, LED 19, 24, 32, 37 and 42-inch
E30 Full HD, LED, Viera Connect. 32, 37 and 42-inch
DT30 Full HD, LED, 3DTV, 400Hz, Viera Connect. 32 and 37-inch
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