Eyes on with the VT30, Panasonic's flagship 3D plasma

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Eyes on with the VT30, Panasonic's flagship 3D plasma
The latest and greatest (and largest) 3D plasmas from Panasonic are finally shipping, including the flagship, THX-certified Viera VT30 sets with their single sheet of glass panels and Infinite Black Pro2 filters. We first caught a glimpse of these bad boys back at CES and we've been impatiently waiting for a chance to blast our retinas with their PDP goodness in all three dimensions. The company was nice enough to invite us over recently to have a little TV powwow that featured an uncomfortable amount of Avatar on Bluray. Keep reading after the break for all the not-so-gory details.

Like other Panasonic sets the VT30 is an active 3D display and the company has switched to new fast-switching phosphors to minimize the trailing and ghosting effects sometimes associated with flat panels and 3D content. Under Panasonic's tightly controlled circumstances the difference between its plasmas and the top of the line LCD from a certain competitor were quite noticeable. In fact, the motion response on the VT30 was possibly the best we've ever seen -- there were no visual artifacts of any kind and the colors remained rich and vivid at almost any angle. There was some flickering detectable on the displays, but much of that is attributable to poor planning on Panasonic's part -- the demo room was filled with 3D TVs, all of which were competing for the attention of our active shutter glasses. The company also had a passive 3D set on hand for comparison, and the superiority of the image on the active set was undeniable (the passive set exhibited some noticeable stair-stepping).

As you'd expect, the VT30 features VIERA Connect and is compatible with the associated WiFi adapter. There's also support for DLNA, VIERA Link, a 2D to 3D converter, and an option to adjust the severity and depth of the 3D effect. The VT30 is available in 55- and 65-inch models for $2799.95 and $4299.95 respectively. The mid-range and entry-level GT30 and ST30 lines also scored new super-sized models at 60 and 65 inches, with the primary difference being a lack of single-sheet-of-glass construction and the less "pro" Infinite Black 2 filter, while the ST30 line also loses THX certification. The 60-inch GT30 costs $2799.95 while the 65-inch will run you $3699.95, the ST30s are a slightly more affordable $2399.95 and $3299.95.

Panasonic also told us that its third-generation 3D glasses would be arriving this summer which are expected to be both lighter and cheaper than the current specs, but the company refused to give us anything more than an estimated ship date of July. Hopefully price will be towards the lower end of the $50 to $100 range we've heard tossed about. The VT30 is shipping now, but you'll have to haul yourself to a store to get one -- for the time being it's not available online.
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