Panasonic introduced their 2nd generation of 3D TVs at the 2011 CES, just as some companies, like Sony, are rolling out their gen 1 sets. Panasonic also broke new ground for itself by showing LCD 3D TVs, in addition to plasma. Heretofore they had been firmly on the plasma bandwagon, and had touted the benefits of plasma as a 3D platform over the LCD version of 3D.
What hath Panny wrought for us in 3D in 2011? Their new VT30 3D plasma series will be available in 55in and 65in sizes. These should pop up on your local retailers shelves in mid Q2 or thereabouts. Prices are still TBA.
Pictures are improved, thanks to new Infinite Black Pro 2 plasma panels that offer significant improvements over the Infinite Black Pro variety used in 2010. Black levels, already a Panasonic strong suit, are further improved, and tiny variations in dark grays make images even more accurate and lifelike. Another advantage of this year’s sets over last is increased luminous efficiency, so the panel can generate more light with less energy.
The VT30 series and little brother GT30 series are both THX certified for 2D. The GT30 plasmas will be similar to the VT30, but you’ll take a hit in the panel department, dropping to an Infinite Black 2 panel from the Infinite Black Pro 2 used the VT30. If you want more variation in screen size, however you’ll be pleased with the GT30, which is available in 65, 60, 55 and 50 inch sizes. It also retains the THX certification for 2D.
Panasonic has slimmed down their bezels to more closely resemble the “one sheet of glass” designs found on Samsung sets. They aren’t quite as svelte as the Korean’s but do look better than previous examples. That’s important in a day and age when consumers want the “It’s painted on the wall” look, and all picture, no border.
Another 3D change announced by Panasonic is that their active shutter 3D glasses will be available in 3 sizes to better accommodate a wider range of consumer’s noggins. The 3 three new sizes? Small, medium, and large, naturally. They’ll throw in a pair for free if you buck up for a set in the VT30 series. I’d expect you get to choose the appropriate size.
They have also increased VieraCast’s capabilities in the face of expanded widget ant IP capabilities form nearly every other TV manufacturer. Some of the new faces of VieraCast include Gameloft, Hulu Plus, Napster, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS and Facebook. You can video chat using Skype too, just like we thought you’d be able to do in George Jetson’s future. The additions help keep them abreast of competitors such as Samsung and Sony, who had been surging ahead in the “who can have the apps and IP content” race. In recognition of it’s expanded capabilities VieraCast has been renamed VieraConnect. Panasonic has given their new TVs WiFi for those of you that hate stringing CAT-5 about your abode.