Pros + Superb picture quality
+ Built-in sound is quite good
+ The menus on this model are very easy to navigate
+ NETFLIX - Picture quality for streaming was excellent
+ Remote is fine
Cons - 55" model does not have the swivel stand
Summary Purchasing: This was my first TV purchase online. Obviously because of the large size and fragile nature of the TV, I was concerned. The driver called 15 minutes prior to delivery. He helped get it into my home and unpacked to make sure the screen was not damage.
Setup: Assembling the TV requires putting it on the stand and tightening 4 screws. For this 55" version, it is clearly a two person task. Everything is relatively obvious. Some of the accessories are taped to the styrofoam, so you may need to dig a little bit to find everything. The WI-FI dongle snaps into any of the USB ports.
Choice: I spent about a year mulling around a TV purchase and finally decided to pull the trigger. I had a 10 year old Sony rear projection set that still had a very good picture, but I liked the idea of something that took up less space and had HDMI inputs for some additional accessories. I chose this particular TV for several reasons. 1) The reviews on CNET and Amazon are quite good. There certainly are fewer negative complaints such as poor customer service or dead on arrival. 2) Great picture quality - it can be difficult to discern a good picture in a large box store, but this one was much better over other similarly priced TVs (plasmas, LCDs & LEDs). The color on the GT30 seemed more realistic than other brands, in particular the Samsung plasmas. I presume this relates to the settings from when it's pulled out of the box. 3) I wanted low maintenance - and most reviews, such as CNET, say the THX setting was already optimal and further calibration did not improve the quality. 4) Price - I wanted to stay under $2000 for my purchase. The VT30 also didn't seem to offer much more for the extra money. 5) 55" is just right for my room size (seating is 8-10 feet from TV).
My Picture: I'm very happy with the picture on my TV. I do find a need to use two different color settings, 1) THX for a dark room and 2) CUSTOM for a bright room. I haven't noticed the any of the artifacts others have mentioned in their reviews, such as changing grays/blacks/brightness. Then again, I haven't gone looking for them. Likewise, I haven't gone looking for any dead pixels. I'm happy now, so there's no reason to try and be disappointed. There were a few instances with the screen just going black randomly, but after a firmware update - no more. I also purchased a smaller 42" ST30 for my bedroom and the picture is comparable. I may have been just as happy with the 55" ST30.
3D: In my opinion, 3D is worthless. It's a cute gimmick, but I find no enjoyment in watching the picture on the TV. In theaters - in particular IMAX - the experience is different, since you may sit much closer to the screen. For me, the 3D effect just doesn't translate into a more realistic experience. If I had to do it over, I would still purchase this TV, but would skip the 3D glasses. The 2D-to-3D conversion is quite good for what it is, but once again, I would not waste my time.
Menus: The menus on this model are very easy to navigate - much easier than past models or other brands.
Internet: I don't use the internet widgets much, but they seem very straightforward. I did use NETFLIX without any issues. Picture quality for streaming was excellent.
Sound: I don't use the speakers, but when I tried them out they seemed more than adequate. No audio problems to report.
Other: The 55" model does not have the swivel stand - this was a bummer. The remote is fine, but I prefer an alternate universal remote. I also like that when the power of my Panasonic DVD player is turned on, it automatically changes the INPUT to the DVD. (But if you will buy this TV I suggest you have to check for best deal before you decide at: Lowest-pricing.info/TC-P55GT30 )
Summary: Very happy with the TV, would certainly purchase again. My only issue is "how long will it last" and that remains to be seen.
Pros Outstanding picture quality
Decent anti-reflective coating
Sound okay for a flat panel
Cons Fluctuating Brightness (more below)
Requires an earthquake cable for anti-tipping
Sound could use some improvement
Summary I rely on the Internet for my research. Sure I head out to the stores to see things in person, but once I've made my list I head to the Internet to read reviews and learn about features and read reviews. I decided that this model was the one for me.
I liked the styling and the fact that it performs okay for a plasma in moderately bright rooms in daytime, which I have. I did secure the TV with an earthquake cable as the base felt a bit tippy (young ones in the house).
I must say, first of all that the picture quality is outstanding. I went though some calibration settings found here and elsewhere and got it looking great. But one thing the Editor reviewer here only touched briefly on is this thing called "Fluctuating Brightness" FBr for short. This issue causes the screen to rapidly change in brightness based on content of the viewing material. Fbr is fickle as the material displayed, settings mode of the display (THX, Custom, Vivid) and luck of the draw on what parts where used when building the TV, all factor in. ALL the 2011 Panasonic's have this issue...not just this model!
This FBr problem causes the screen brightness to "pop" suddenly to a different brightness level. Instead of a gradual ramping in brightness the change is so startling that once seen it will slowly drive you crazy!
If you are a more critical viewer of movies (which, I assume, is why you are reading this review, and not a lower end model), this problem will make you concentrate on the screen of the TV, instead of the immersion into the TV and into the material you are trying to enjoy.
This problem is so pronounced that complaints are appearing all over the Internet, just Google "2011 Panasonic Fluctuating Brightness" and you will get many many hits. Panasonic has been made aware of this and it has been addressed and corrected by firmware in the European Panasonic market, BUT NOT HERE! Panasonic North America insists that this "dimming" is a beneficial "feature" and is designed into the TV. What!?!?
Fluctuating Brightness happens when a change in contrast is great enough that the mid gray levels change brightness rapidly. The fluctuating brightness occurs about 0.5 to 1 second after the scene brightness change. Opposed to a gradual ramping in brightness, as done on even low end model TV's, this model makes one BIG ramp change that is jarring. The first time I saw FBr I was Tangled (blu-ray), I was like, "What the h*** was that!?" I spend the rest of the movie watching these Fluctuating Brightness occurrences. Not a great way to spend what could have been enjoyable family time. Now every time I pop in a Blu-Ray I'm worried I will (and continue to) see this Fluctuating Brightness.
This is like a zit on a supermodels face. Once you see it, you can't stop looking at it! Makeup covers up the zit, and firmware code needs to be shared with Panasonic North America and released to us consumers.
I have returned my TV for an exchange...hoping that the next one won't have this Fluctuating Brightness problem as much, but if it does I think I'll be forced to move on to a different brand.
If Panasonic can make a firmware release that would correct this seemingly simple to fix problem, that I would rate this a 5 star TV, but this problem is so annoying I don't even want to turn the thing on! What a shame.
Pros Picture Quality was great
Cons Died in less than a year
Parts needed for repair backordered -- without TV For 5 weeks!
Pros Great picture
Cons TV died month 13.(1year warranty)Panasonic provided no support. The part req'd is not available any more. The store acknowledged that this TV has issues between 12-18 months life. They offered to provide the part but could not get it from Panasonic.
Summary I would not purchase another Panasonic product. Their customer support is horrible. They know this is a problem product and they are doing nothing to correct it. A quick google search shows me hundreds of people in this situation. The SC card burns out and needs to be replaced. Unfortunately the part is no longer available. This is horrible considering the TV is less than 18 months old. The store where i got it was willing to get me the part but could not get it through Panasonic parts. So now I have a 50lb paperweight.
Pros Great picture quality and sound is good.
Cons Lasted only 1 1/2 yrs!??
Summary I bought the 55GT31 from Best Buy at a very competitive price of $1200 on 03/22/2012. Exactly the same as the 55GT30, it came with a bundle of free TV camera, a wireless TV router, two Panasonic 3D glasses, and a 3D Bluray Avatar movie. With 3 HDMI hookups, I was able to set it up with a 3D bluray player, a Direct TV HD DVR, a Yamaha receiver, and a karaoke player with a proprietary Panasonic cable. After about 200hr break in period, we did some video tweaking from CNET's expert advice to improve the picture quality. Going great under normal family entertainment for 1 1/2 years until it died today, 09/12/2013. Just a sudden death! Limited warranty is only 1 year parts and labor. Called up Panasonic for troubleshooting and unfortunately, it's dead and needs to be brought to their authorized service center. The good thing is it's under warranty by Square Trade for 3 years. Scheduled to be home repaired next week. Let's see what happens. But next TV won't be a Panasonic for sure.