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Panasonic TX-L42DT65B review

 Review: December 2013  
 

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The DT65B is the flagship model in Panasonic's 42 inch range of LED TVs for 2013.



 

Design

The Panasonic TX-L42DT65B looks every bit the premium model, with its ultra-slim bezel and stylish V-shaped stand. The silver bezel surrounding the screen is quite striking, although as with all shiny finishes, there's a risk of it being slightly distracting when watching. The V-shaped base in particular is highly polished, so while it grabs attention, it may just distract a little in use. Turn the lights down low and it shouldn't be a problem.

Two remotes are supplied with the TV. The first has a conventional design and has large keys with a functional layout. A second remote is a touch controller, designed to operate the Smart TV functions and it even lets you give voice commands to the TV. Both remotes are attractively finished in silver, enhancing the premium feel of the TV.

The 42 inch model is the smallest of the DT65B range - it's also available in 50 inch and 55 inch models. All models are extremely energy efficient, with the 42 inch model consuming as little as 56W.

Picture quality

The L42DT65B uses a high quality IPS panel with passive 3D technology. While IPS screens offer the advantage of a wide viewing angle, they lack the absolute blackness that a plasma or VA screen can produce. However, the DT65B compensates for this with its local dimming feature. This allows the LED backlighting to be varied across the screen with six independent blocks, so dark areas of a scene can be darkened while keeping lighter areas bright. So although absolute black levels may be less than we'd ideally like, in practice, the dynamic contrast range is very high and overall image quality is sharp and detailed.

The screen is extremely fast, rated at 1600Hz - almost at plasma levels of speed. This means that motion blur is eliminated.

Colour reproduction is fairly accurate (another benefit of the IPS display) and there are plenty of calibration options to make adjustments here.

We were impressed by the image processing on Panasonic's cheaper models - the E6B and ET60B in particular, and the DT65B doesn't let us down. Both standard definition and high def sources are scaled and processed superbly, and this is one of the most accomplished TVs we've seen this year.

3D

Because of its IPS screen, the DT65 uses passive display 3D. We're fans of this at S21 because the glasses are lightweight, inexpensive and flicker-free. Controversy rages over whether active shutter glasses can technically resolve more pixels, but this debate is largely academic and the benefit of higher resolution if it exists at all is negated by the downsides.

Frankly this is one of the best 3D performances we've seen this year. Don your 3D specs and enjoy smooth, flicker-free 3D images with plenty of depth and virtually no crosstalk or other funnies. Just don't sit too close!

Four pairs of glasses are included in the box.

Audio quality

Is there anything this TV does wrong? Not when it comes to audio quality, which is a match for everything else we've seen. Slimline televisions aren't renowned for audio reproduction, but the DT65 does better than most thanks to a dedicated subwoofer in addition to the twin stereo speakers. Total power output is 18W (4 + 4 + 10) and manages to capture a decent amount of bass.

Smart TV

Panasonic's Smart TV system for 2013 is excellent, both in ease-of-use and in the range of options available. We particularly like the My Home Screen feature that lets you create customised home screens for each member of the family - great for keeping the kids' stuff at bay! From the home screen portal, you can access everything you need in one place.

Viera Connect lets you access content like the BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube. There's also a web browser and Facebook and Twitter integration, but sadly no LoveFilm as yet. Skype is here, but you'll need to buy an optional camera to use this.

The DT65 can be operated using a compatible smartphone or tablet using the Viera Remote2 app and a Wi-Fi connection. This lets you select content by swiping, and you can use it to view photos and videos, play music and browse the web. You can also use your phone to give voice commands to your TV.

Connectivity

Connectivity is yet another area where this TV excels. The full list of options is listed below, but it includes ethernet and Wi-Fi, 3 HDMI ports, 3 USBs, and a microSDXC memory card reader. DLNA enables you to use your TV as a media server, connecting to computers and other devices on your home network and searching for content to play.

The TV has twin tuners, and you can use the second tuner to watch a programme on a tablet or smartphone.

Conclusion - outstanding

The Panasonic TX-L42DT65B is a stunningly good television. It's beautiful to look at, although perhaps just a little too shiny for our conservative tastes. Smart TV is excellent, although Samsung still has the edge here. Picture quality is truly excellent, with black levels being the only issue. These are not quite as black as the Samsung Series 7 or the Sony KDL-40W905A, but the dynamic range is excellent. Remember that the Panasonic is a 42 inch TV but costs the same as the 40 inch Samsung and Sony. For the extra screen real estate, we're willing to overlook this one compromise.

In every other respect this is a true flagship LED TV, and is one of the best models of Panasonic's outstanding 2013 range!


Panasonic TX-L42DT65B features include:

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