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This was my first 'modern TV'. I research everything for countless hours and buying a new TV after having a 36" Trinitron for 10 years. My budget was around $1000 and at the time there weren't many...
Features in the price range (good 3D, manual picture adjustment) great viewing angle/minimal glare, good black levels and great color out of the box
decent appearance (not bad but not great), 3D glasses can be pricey and have to be model year specific or get Universal 3D glasses.
This was my first 'modern TV'. I research everything for countless hours and buying a new TV after having a 36" Trinitron for 10 years. My budget was around $1000 and at the time there weren't many displays in the 50" range at this price point. Samsung's 50" plasma was conveniently placed right next to the 50ST30 and this was the exact comparison. The Samsung was prettier to look at in terms of having a thin bezel and a higher gloss panel. The Samsung also came with two pairs of 3D glasses. Very tempting but I chose the Panasonic and have absolutely no regrets. I viewed the 3D feature as more of a bonus than a necessity and eventually purchased 5 pairs of glasses (and barely use 3D).
Setup was very easy and the preset viewing modes were enough until I made time to adjust to my liking. The Cinema mode is good for darker viewing (movie night etc). The custom mode allows some personalization if you need a brighter picture. The standard mode is just too dark for viewing but if you have the set turned on and using something like Pandora where you don't need to see the image then that's what I use it for.
The 'viera connect' is the feature where all the apps are. It is about average and doesn't offer anything that you can't get on any TV with a smart feature.
The audio is not very good at all and I quickly hooked up a 5.1 system so I don't use the speakers.
The absolute win for this set is the accurate color reproduction, good black levels, the 3D is done very well with the right viewing material all at a price where at the time (2011) I would have been stuck with a 42" LED/120hz from the other big brands. There is some image retention but I don't have a problem using the built in features to minimize the risk. Image burn is nowhere near the problem that it used to be (from my research/experience)
My primary uses for the TV are movies, kids television shows, gaming, sports.
I would absolutely purchase another Panasonic set (plasma or LCD) and when I do the ST30 will go in the bedroom.