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Best HDTV of The Month

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December 2012

If you are looking for the best in HDTV, we suggest you do check out our top 5 best rated HDTV of the month. Their rating are based on consumer reviews at Amazon.com. …

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Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30

Submitted by on February 3, 2012 – 7:11 pm10 Comments | 3,311 views

Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30

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  • Customer Rating Really disappointed, 2011-12-08
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    Without a doubt, Panasonic is making the tv with the best picture. However, I have to rate this as 2 stars as of this moment because Panasonic is still knowingly sending out TVs with the fluctuating brightness issue. TVs manufactured after August or September no longer have this issue, but somehow I managed to get a model built in April. After quite a bit of research, the problem is fixable (certain models can download firmware) and my model requires the A board to be replaced by a technician. After reading some people waited as long as 3-4 weeks, I have to return the item. That and I also don’t want my brand new TV opened up by a technician that half knows what they are doing and potentially doesn’t put it back/screw things back in place. Brand new TV… no thanks.Back you go… incredibly disappointed in Panasonic…

  • Customer Rating Great TV, 2011-09-13
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    This TV really has a superb picture, both in standard format and in 3D. The 3D is of excellent quality, we did find that some of the DVD’s we purchased were not quite as good in quality or clarity. There are only four 3D channels on DirecTV so the content is fairly small, with quite a few repeat shows. There is only one movie channel that shows one movie all day and they repeat those a lot too. This is rapidly changing as a lot more new 3D materiel is coming out. There is one sports channel, this really is excellent to watch, you think you are there. At this point not too much live stuff but it did have the US Open tennis live for example.
    I recommend this TV very strongly. A tip on the glasses, they are expensive from Panasonic, around $118 apiece and do not have good customer feedback. We bought Taiwanese knock offs for $45 each on Ebay and they work very well, no problems.

  • JoPython says:

    Customer Rating A big improvement over the GT25 series, 2011-03-08
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    I recently bought and returned a TC-P42GT25 due to dissatisfaction with the performance of the 3D and other issues. I decided to give this new series of Panasonic plasma tv’s a shot to see if i could be convinced that 3D is worth while.
    I’m happy to say i am satisfied with the this new set. Most of the issues i had with last year model were resolved with this new television. It has a brighter display and much less cross-talk issues which makes playing video games in 3D much more enjoyable, especially on the PS3. 3D movies like Resident Evil Afterlife are crystal clear.
    I bought this set primarily for video games. I needed a full featured, smaller, bedroom sized 3D hdtv that did not break my bank account, and this fits the bill perfectly.

  • EC8CH says:

    Customer Rating Superb Picture Quality With Only 1 Problem, But There’s A Fix, 2011-06-23
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    The picture quality of this television is really outstanding. It is however compromised by an issue common to all 2011 Panasonic plasmas known as “Fluctuating Brightness”. About a half of a second after a scene change there is sometimes an instantaneous change in the overall brightness of the screen. Full discussion of this issue can be found by Googling: “panasonic 2011 fluctuating brightness”.

    Panasonic, to their credit, has recognized this as an issue and has come up with a solution that eliminates it. All sets produced after August and have a serial number of “xx1215xxxxxx” or higher will have new software installed that eliminates these brightness fluctuations from happening. If you have an earlier model and notice these fluctuations, contact Panasonic and let them know. They should either schedule a Panasonic employee to flash the software to your EEPROM, or they will schedule a 3rd party tech to replace your A-Board with one that already has the new software installed. In my case, they replaced the A-Board. Since then I have not seen any fluctuation and I am now completely satisfied with my set’s remarkable picture quality.

    Otherwise this television is exactly what I was looking for. Great price, superb picture quality, good Internet connectivity and interface. 3D is nice for future-proofing but it wasn’t something I was actively looking for, but Panasonic sets with the best 2D picture quality are all 3D capable. Panasonic’s menu interface seems a little more dated than their competitions, but it is simple and straightforward which makes it very functional without any extra eyecandy. The ST series is a great value if you don’t need the somewhat fancier styling of the gt or vt series, or the thx certified picture mode, or the extra connections (st lacks vga, and has 3 instead of 4 hdmi ports). Also the st is the only series to offer the 42″ size screen. For me it all boils down to this being the perfect television for 2011 now that Panasonic has given us a solution to the problem of Fluctuating Brightness.


    I think Panasonic really demonstrated how committed they are to their product’s picture quality by addressing this issue. Instead of writing this off as only a minor issue, they stepped up and supported their customers. This is a great response that insures that without condition Panasonic’s line of 2011 3D televisions have the best picture quality you can buy. THANK YOU PANASONIC!

  • Mark F says:

    Customer Rating Best 3D full HD 42″ TV For Under a Grand., 2011-04-25
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    OK, I figured since I’ve hit the 200 hour mark I will give more impressions of my P42ST30.I highly recommend D Nice’s panel prep method which can be found online by using Google. Even if you “accidentally” watched a couple of hours of regular content, just start it now and don’t watch anymore. I know that the purpose is to get even pixel aging for accuracy of settings, but I think doing this also results in sharper colors, with less bleeding.I read the entire thread over on High Def Junkies forum about the brightness flux. Now I’ve been keeping a critical eye on this TV since I bought it (it’s my 4th counting returns of 3 GT25’s) and I had not noticed a problem with brightness adjustments during viewing. However, after reading the thread I decided to pay more attention. To test whether or not my TV suffered from brightness flux, I watched a movie that I thought would be an excellent test, Dark City on BD, Director’s cut.All I can say is that I was very impressed with how my ST30 handled this movie. If anyone is familiar with it, you know that Dark City is filmed almost entirely in this eery night/twilight background. There are tons of scenes with inky black backgrounds, brightly lit lights, and plenty of shadows and contours. This TV really passed with flying colors. I actually got up several times to go stare at the screen during a particularly dark scene with good contrast of bright localized lighting and I could not see any brightness flux, or any light bleeding into dark areas, etc…Tried that “binary butterscotch” hi def jpeg that someone posted a video of on You Tube with his GT30 doing obvious flickering, and the only thing I saw was a very brief moment of darkening of the blacks in the picture and then it was stable.Watched the opening scenes of Inception because someone on the thread mentioned their set did a lot of this brightness flux on the first 11 minutes…nothing…lights and darks were rock solid.Now, I thought that I encountered a very slight version of this issue one time when watching hockey in 1080i on digital network broadcast. But I watched hockey again yesterday, same channel, and I realized what I saw was the unit’s interpretation of the camera flashes from people in the stadium sitting near the camera but out of view, adding a kind of backlighting effect with their flashes. Not once did the white ice rink alter brightness or shades.As a matter of fact, the only thing I can produce that even comes close to being called this kind of problem is if I have the white slide on the screen from the D Nice panel prep method and I bring up the ST30’s main menu. Then I can see the white dim noticeably. But again, that’s only when viewing the slides.Now again, I’m a newb and this is an uncalibrated set, but I definitely noticed the panel changing as I broke it in. The ST30’s seem to be particularly…I dunno how to say it…stiff, out of the box. Colors looked a bit dull and it looked like the TV really didn’t know how to handle gradients, etc…but after the 100 hour panel prep, I really noticed images looking very sharp, colors bright and well defined, no bleeding into each other. They seemed more accurate. Fast motion scenes held their color well as they quickly passed across the pixels. And then I really noticed another marked improvement right around 180 -190 hours.Let’s see…about the only other issue is when I choose 48hz while watching something on BD with the player set to 24p I can see flickering in bright lights on the screen. When I change to 60hz, it disappears.The buzzing has not gotten any louder at all. It’s quite soft. Heck, it vibrates at the same frequency as my fridge motor so for all I know it could all be caused by dirty electricity from the utilities. They operate at 60hz so there has to be some interference. Anyway, I can only hear the buzzing with audio off and sitting within 6 feet of the TV and even then the other electrical sounds in the house tend to drown it out. It does change pitch with different colors but since I can hear the high-pitched whine from a CRT tv from any room in the house it really doesn’t bother me at all. Of all my electronics the TV is probably the most quiet of the bunch.As far as dead/stuck pixels I only have two. One goes dark on blue slides and one goes dark on red slides. I can live with that because they both fire properly on all other colors.I have not been able to watch any native 3D content yet (waiting for my Avatar BD), but 2D-3D is cool to see at first but after a while it’s not really noticeable unless there’s some kind of graphic up on the screen then you really get the depth perception. The TV syncs up easily with my Xpand active shutter 3D glasses.Oh yes, I am getting audio stutter on Netflix, but that only started recently, so for now I’m assuming it can be fixed with a firmware update. Plus it’s not that big of a deal for me because we have the DMP-BDT210 and that Netflix shows more movie choices anyway for some reason so we primarily use it for streaming movies.In conclusion, I know the ST30 line is the lower, high end model and I know it is far from perfect. But I really think it is the best value on the market for a 42″ full HD, 3D television for under $1000. I am definitely a happy ST30 owner.UPDATE 6/1/2011: Over 400 hours now and I stand by my review 100%. Also, I finally received my Avatar 3D Blu Ray and I watched it using my Panasonic BDT-210. WOW! Great 3D picture, the sense of depth is amazing! Using the Xpand X103 glasses from Amazon. Don’t be fooled by the naysayers, 3D is cool and it’s not a gimmick. Every guest I’ve shown the opening scene of Avatar to has been very impressed. Audio stutter on Netflix seems to have been fixed via the 2.04 firmware update.Update 1/28/2012: Over 3k hours on my panel now and I love it as much as the day I bought it! Got it calibrated at around 2k hours and the difference was substantial. It calibrated pretty well for not having advanced controls, gamma, color temp, greyscale all calibrated quite well. I am definitely happy, 10 months later, that I made the decision to go with this panel.

  • Greeko76 says:

    Customer Rating Amazing Picture Quality!!, 2011-09-24
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    Purchased this 42 inch model a few weeks ago. Now that I have been watching it for a few weeks I’ll give you my first impression. I actually wasn’t expecting the best picture as I already own a few other Panasonic Plasmas but higher up in the model lineup. Since it was for a bedroom I decided to buy into the value line (ST series) instead of the GT or VT line. I will say that the picture is actually stunning. The colors are rich and beautiful and the blacks are seriously the blackest I have ever seen. This TV has to be one of the best values and secrets out there. If you find a bargain on this TV do NOT hesitate, buy it! I’ll skip all my comments on Plasma vs LCD, go read that elsewhere. All I will say is that if you are serious about your image quality, Plasma hands down. As you move up the Panasonic model lineup the asthetics of the TV start to get nicer. If you are ok with a simple black bezel around the display than you will be fine with this TV cause the picture will blow your mind. I have not even tried the 3D and I have no desire to even use it at this time. It’s a nice bonus if we decide we want to try it later on. I did play with the online Viera Connect apps. It’s cool and works good.Bottomline: This TV is EXCELLENT. I would recommend it. I will probably buy it for a family member for Christmas! Hope the price goes down a bit more by then.

  • Customer Rating Great Plasma TV, 2011-03-27
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    I just received my TC-P42ST30 a couple of days ago. I haven’t purchased 3D glasses yet so haven’t viewed 3D on this unit, but regular 2D looks great, including 1080i HD. I did some tweaking to the picture and other settings and am still tweaking, but so far I’m very happy with the image quality. I’m watching the NCAA finals now – this unit is great for sports!

    I’m not sure what another (negative) reviewer was watching to get a dark blurry picture with image lag – I’m getting a crystal clear picture on HD channels, and it’s plenty bright and colorful after I tweaked the picture menu settings to my liking. I haven’t noticed any motion lag, including during fast-moving basketball games. I found that the picture looked best with the brightness and contrast set between about +65 and +70 each. I also found that turning off “C.A.T.S.” (a picture menu feature that automatically adapts image brightness based on ambient room light) in the picture menu keeps the display from darkening when I want it bright, so that might be worth trying while setting up the picture settings. I got the most realistic color by adjusting the color temperature to “Warm1” and using the “Custom” picture mode’s “Pro settings” to tweak the white balance by increasing the blues (+10) and reds (+5) and decreasing the greens (-5) to get more realistic skin tones (I found it nearly impossible to judge skin tones by broadcast content – I used an image file from my computer as my color target) along with -5 on the general “tint” setting. I set the panel brightness to “low” and the gamma to 2.2. I also decreased the “Color” setting quite a bit (+40) to get the colors, which looked over-saturated on the default setting, more natural looking. These settings might not work for everyone, and they’re still a work in progress, but I’m getting natural skin tones and a very nice overall image, so they might be a good starting place. I haven’t noticed any kind of color cast in white/dark gray areas, so think this is a non-issue with this TV. I thought about downloading the Datacolor TV calibration software to use with my Spyder3 colorimeter to calibrate the TV, but I’m not sure I’ll need to do this since I’ve gotten it pretty close doing it by eye.

    The TV comes with a Panasonic USB wireless adapter, so I can use the Vieracast feature to access Netflix and other online services. It just took a few minutes (mainly fiddling with security settings) to get it connected to my home wireless network. The TV immediately updated its Vieracast software without any issues.

    Overall, I’m extremely pleased so far.

  • Customer Rating Great price and a wonderful Plasma TV with good 3D, 2011-07-14
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    Well, I’ve had my TV since June 9th and I thought I’d write a review. First, I am very glad I bought this TV. The quality is outstanding – both the 3D mode and just as a standard Hi-Def TV. One thing that wasn’t obvious and is worth mentioning, the TV does not come with 3D glasses. I’m not sure what the availability is now but a few weeks ago I was having a hard time finding Panasonic 3D Glasses. I eventually went with the Xpand Universal X103 glasses and those have been fine. In fact, based on some reviews they may be a better fit than the Panasonic glasses. The Xpand glasses use batteries (and therefore don’t recharge) but that’s been fine. And the cost is less. But be prepared – a pair of glasses will easily add another 200 dollars to your price tag.

    I took the time to do the “panel prep” procedure mentioned in another commenter’s post (Mark F’s post). That recommendation – and the link ([…]) – provided me with the slides and information about calibrating. It was painful to wait a week after receiving the TV before actually setting it up for real use – but definitely worth it. Many thanks to Mark (and others) for taking the time to provide such information.

    Another aspect of this TV that I found out about after buying it. While reading through the user guide, the section on viewing media gave instructions on how to convert two photos into a stereo photo and save that new stereo image. It will only save to the SD card slot but I’ve been having a great time creating my own stereo photos. I’m not doing anything fancy. I’ve been using a tripod and just manually moving it to take two shots of still subjects from slightly different angles. Those get loaded into the TV, you select Left then Right and the Panasonic processes them together to create the stereo image for you. I’ve been able to get some great results – so much that I eventually decided to order a sliding tripod mount to make things easier. Of course, moving subjects are not really feasible – but I’ve got some photos of orchids that really jump out of the screen. I’ve also had fun taking some “3D modeling” images from a program called “Bryce” and created stereo images from those files. That took a bit more work – the software in the Panasonic gets a bit finicky about the “date” in jpeg files. But it’s possible to fool the Panasonic software by opening a jpeg taken with my camera in Photoshop, changing the size of the image as needed, copying and pasting another image into the file and then saving (instead of “save as”). That seems to preserve some Exif data for date that I’ve not figured out yet.

    Anyway, this was a replacement TV for an older 720 DPI LCD Olivia which was starting to act up. The reviews in Consumer Reports indicated that going with a Plasma 3D wasn’t a bad idea as it only cost a bit more than the 2D models – and the quality was great for regular 2D viewing as well. That’s been the case – and Amazon had a great deal when I bought this that included a Panasonic 3D Blu-Ray player – and the Blu-Ray included a free copy of Avatar. All that combined – a nice setup that ended up costing me only about 800 (then another 200 for the glasses though).

  • MChaf says:

    Customer Rating Great Option for PC Gaming, 2011-07-25
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    After several weeks of considering options, most notably whether to purchase a plasma or LCD, I decided on the Panasonic P42ST30. The primary use of the monitor is for 1080p PC games, such as highly anticipated Battlefield 3 expected in October 2011. As such, the largest concern for me was input lag. Most manufacturers don’t publish this information, but thankfully there are third party sites such as DigitalVersus that consider input lag in many of their reviews. DigitalVersus scored the input lag for the Euro version of the P42ST30 at 15ms. The other concern for me was Hz and whether the 600Hz display of the plasma was better than 120Hz or 240Hz on a LCD for my PC, which has dual NVIDIA 570 video cards in SLI mode running on an i7 2600K processor. Not being familiar with the technologies, this was a hard choice as information and opinion is not consistent. Ultimately, I decided on the plasma because of other gamers’ reviews recommending Panasonic plasma displays.

    So what’s the bottom line? The picture quality is superb and there is absolutely no input lag that I can discern. I played Battlefield 2 Bad Company with the highest settings in both single player and multiplayer and I’m an extremely pleased with the results. It is worth noting that the plasma was set to game mode, all video processing settings were disabled and the brightness sensor was turned off. The display is sharp and motion is seamless with no ghosting. Other reviews mention an issue with brightness flux, but I haven’t experienced any.

    The plasma was provided thru Paul’s TV and shipped by AIT Worldwide. I was able to get the plasma at $799 with no shipping cost. The shipping was one day late, but given the shipping box in almost perfect condition; it was well worth the extra day.

    Upon arrival, I mounted the plasma on the wall, connected the PC with a high-end Monster HDMI cable. The display was brilliant out of the box. I thought I had one dead pixel, but after minutes running the panel prep as recommend in other reviews, it came to life. Most experts recommend running the prep for 50 to 100 hours. I settled on 75 hours and loaded the pictures on a flash drive, which I connected to the plasma on the USB port located on the side of the display. I keep the flash drive plugged in and will run thru the prep pictures from time to time as part of routine maintenance.

    The only issue I experienced was the PC’s version of 1080p is larger than the standard full display setting on the plasma. The plasma has built-in display mode options, but none of them were to my satisfaction. I was able to adjust the size of the display on the PC using NVIDIA’s control panel. But even so, I can’t get a perfect fit without exposing a set of pixels horizontally or vertically (always black). As I use the plasma for gaming almost exclusively, and in order to better protect against possible burn-in, I decided to run the PC display slightly larger than the plasma display area.

    If you’re like me, and want to upgrade your gaming display from traditional PC monitors that typically cap at around 30 or 32 inches, want a 3D display for the future, and don’t want to compromise your gaming experience because of input lag, then this is the display for you. Don’t worry about burn-in as was the issue with plasma in years past. The ST30 line has built in protection. Just use common sense and you will never have an issue. I highly recommend the P42ST30.

  • Lord_Spanky says:

    Customer Rating Great performance for price. I am pleased., 2011-03-30
    This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P42ST30
    I had some problems with the first tc-p42st30 i recieved from amazon. Namely uniformity issues, a dead pixel, and an off center picture.

    The second one isnt perfect, but I find it within acceptable parameters, and I am pickier than average about these things.

    There are mild uniformity issues in the form of some light verticle banding. This is only noticable on the solid color break-in slides im running and not noticable in normal viewing content.

    There is also a tiny dark blob at mid-right that appears to be a dead pixel on a light background from a few feet away, but upon close inspection is actually not a dead pixel but a little dark blob. It is not viewable from 7 feet away in my viewing seat with my 20/20 glasses vision.

    Other than these minor issues I am very pleased with the tv.

    The picture quality is suberb imo. None of the small imperfections i mentioned have any impact on the picture quality from normal viewing distances.

    The sound is very acceptable, too.

    Overall I am very pleased with my new tv and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new plasma with a budget in mind.

    The performance:price ratio really hits the sweet spot with this model.


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