Panasonic TX-P50ST30 review

Impeccable big-screen performance at an eye-catching price Tested at £950

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Impeccable big-screen performance at an eye-catching price


  • +

    Strong performance in every area bar sound

  • +

    the price/screen-size ratio is good


  • -

    Robust competition from within the family

  • -

    not the most handsome device

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

After its supernatural show of strength in our 2011 Awards (particularly for the GT30 series), Panasonic is back with a more modestly priced, more modestly specified contender. And back with the same clarity of purpose it’s been exhibiting all year.

The savings (this ST30 is a couple of hundred pounds less expensive than its Award-winning TX-P50GT30 relative) are evident from the spec-sheet.

This set does without the Freesat tuner, THX certification, wireless streaming and USB recording of its pricier sibling.

So as long as those features aren’t high on your wish-list (there’s a wireless dongle available at additional cost; and we’ve never been knocked out by the results of Panasonic’s THX mode), then exemplary big-screen performance is yours for less than a grand.

The ST30’s an impressive across-the-board performer. 3D images, while inevitably a trifle dim, are solid, virtually immune from cross-talk and, for an active-shutter system, not at all fatiguing. 2D Blu-ray images are brighter, handle motion equally well and draw from an extensive and entirely believable colour palette.

Accomplished DVD upscaler
As an upscaler of DVDs the TV is just as accomplished as Panasonic’s Blu-ray players, and pictures from the analogue and the digital TV tuners are vivid, low-noise and stable.

Even pictures streamed from the BBC’s iPlayer via the VieraCast portal are solid, bearing comparison with standard-definition TV broadcasts.

In every case, the Panasonic impresses with the depth and detail of its black tones, the smooth accuracy of its edges and its extensively detailed skin-tones and textures.

Contrasts are strong, too, and white tones stay crisp and clean even when sharing screen-space with inky blacks.

Sound is unashamedly so-so, and there’s no doubt you can buy a more dramatic-looking and decorative 50in TV than this – but in every other respect (the ones that really count) the TX-P50ST30 is an object lesson in how a big, affordable plasma screen ought to perform.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test