"Great TV, 1 problem that undoes it ALL"0.5 starson by nav7100
Pros: Awesome colors, Awesome blacks, awesome picture clarity, realistic skin tones. Feels like you're "there" in the scene.
Cons: Fluctuating Brightness, fluctuating Brightness and fluctuating Brightness. If your TV doesn't have it, enjoy it for the price not better TV. If you have it, it negates EVERYTHING otherwise great about it.
Summary: Let me start off by saying 4 things first:
1) I LOVE Panasonic products. I have had their phones/shavers/Digital Cameras/and now a Blu-ray player and I love them ALL.
2) I even absolutely love the PQ on this TV as well (barring fluctuating brightness of course).
3) I'm giving it a 1-star rating with a heavy heart but with a firm observant mind.
4) I wish I never had to write this review.
The deal breaker??? - Fluctuating brightness!!!
I have read rave reviews for this TV here/other places and I agree with them PQ-wise. But IF and only IF your set has this and you've noticed this you're done. I hope this is not the case with you but it IS the case with me and few others. Not sure how many "few" people it takes to get the attention of a major manufacturer but here is my viewing experience so far. I've had this TV for 3.5 weeks now.
This TV tries to adjust its brightness A LOT. Majority of the time a scene changes between a dark scene to a (much) lighter scene/area - you can see the changing brightness - especially on the face, it'll go wayyyy brighter, then back to normal. Eventually the light will be perfect/even great hue but the "switching" drives me nuts. While dark scenes themselves look great overall - I also noticed some dark/darkness adjustment even in a night scene where the light in the scene/room was off. It happens much less often but it does. The adjustment in dark scenes are not that distracting as they are less frequent/apparent. Daylight/bright scenes - another story.
I even tried to "ignore" this by telling myself - oh well no TV is perfect and let me just "live" with it but I just couldn't. Besides - for a $2K TV to do what my $250 seven year old Sharp (CRT) TV does NOT do is simply unacceptable.
I have tried Blue ray/SD content/HD contect/netflix/regular DVDs and they all display fluctuating brightness. I grant it's not there ALL the time but boy when it rears its ugly head (which is often) - that is ALL I watch and well that is ALL I'm watching right now - not willingly I must add. I've gotten the latest firmware as well.
So why just a 1-star when the PQ/blacks are great. The brightness problem is so glaring that it handily undoes the MANY good/great/outstanding qualities of this TV. Speaking of outstanding - another great thing about the TV is skin tones - oh so natural. When I was TV hunting/doing "eye test" in stores - LED always seemed to have an edge. But man - this colors/skin tones are so realistic in this TV. I do not want to take away the great PQ of this TV - in all fairness, yet at the same time I do not want to take away the undeniably distracting viewing this TV presents to me. In fact I feel like I've been relegated to "watching" the fluctuating brightness instead of actually enjoying the experience of this otherwise great TV. I even tried telling myself - maybe I'm "looking" for this brightness fluctuation issue but no no no - it's THERE.
I'm at a loss to explain why Panasonic did not/does not notice this - that is - if they don't. They need to fix it and fix it now. I BELIEVE Panasonic can and should make it right. And I still maintain it's a great TV. I do not know if others have had the same issue or to this degree but this has been my experience. I don't know the technical details but they *should* be able to fix this with a firmware fix. I have NOT given up on them and hence have requested Amazon for another ST30. It is a great TV otherwise but you buy a TV to enjoy the programming content, NOT distractions. Panasonic - you are the top plasma maker in the market. You guys even have the entire (former) Pioneer/Kuro team working for you. Will you please make it right!!!
When I get the new TV - I will re-evaluate and post my findings. Oh by the way Amazon was 100% helpful/quick in sending a replacement. Thanks Amazon!!!