To maintain a standard across our review units, we calibrated the VIERA E30S with Datacolor's Spyder3TV Home Theater Color Calibration kit prior to our visual tests. This is to ensure we assess the HDTV based on optimal display settings, and not on visual estimation alone. Using the TV's Standard preset, we've also disabled all the necessary boosters such as color and dynamic lighting enhancement features.
After calibration, optimized values were as recorded as:- Brightness at 6, Contrast at 96, Color at 79 and Tint at 0. Since our Spyder kit does not allow us to calibrate the TV's backlights, we have set the backlight's intensity to 50, or its neutral value. Black and white luminance were measured at 0.088 and 212.100 cd/m2 respectively. Compared to rival edge-lit models, the VIERA's luminance range was fair but what's worth a mention is its low black luminance values. That said, let's see how the TV handles shadow details when we throw a handful of HD and SD movies at it later.
DisplayMate is an application which generates a sequence of test patterns to determine the capabilities of imaging devices, like color and gray-scale accuracies for example. For our tests, we've hooked up the VIERA to our display test-bed PC using an HDMI connection. To be fair across the board, we have also disabled all visual enhancements on the TV in order to reduce the variables involved. Here are some findings based on the relevant and critical test patterns:-
There were a number of user complaints (on Amazon UK) on the unacceptable backlight bleeds from the equivalent VIERA E30B European model. Our analysis of the E30S was less severe, but we have to admit bleeding was apparent along the top and bottom edges of the panel.
Dark Gray Scale
Has the potential for uniform grays if its consistency wasn't derailed by the aggressive backlighting as noted along the top and bottom edges. This blemish may result in murky blacks or a loss of details around the said area.
Viewing angles are exemplary, although the IPS panel did not handle color gradients very well. Brighter hues appeared muted and uneven darkening was apparent at the other end of the scale. On the other hand, the E30S is capable of rich and vivid colors.
256-Intensity Level Color Ramp
Minor banding was detected around mid and darker zones of the 4-color ramp. This won't affect video or broadcast playback too much but the compression defect could affect static images.
IDT's HQV Tests are designed to assess image quality of digital displays through a variety of video signal processing tasks which includes decoding, de-interlacing, motion correction, noise reduction and film cadence detection. We've programmed the Blu-ray player to playback in 1080i in order to stress the TV's video processor. This compels the TV's processor to convert interlaced signals into progressive to accommodate the HDTV's panel. Here are the results we noted on a few of the more crucial tests:-
Digital Noise Filtering
You'll find Panasonic's noise filter under the P-NR guise. Sadly, the TV's noise reduction qualities isn't as cool as it sounds. Noise grains persisted even with P-NR tuned to the max.
Diagonal Filter Test
Panasonic's video processor was up there with the best of LCD TVs when it came to de-interlacing and video reconstruction. The rotating bar was mostly free of "jaggies" or feathering artifacts, which also suggests the E30S is not afraid of interlaced content.
Film Resolution Loss Test
Ironically, strobing on the SMTPE pattern intensified when the TV's Film Cadence Detection selection was enabled. We cannot explain its odd behavior but it is likely due to incorrect inverse cadence algorithms applied. In the real world, this might translate to flickering with 24p content.