Panasonic TX-L42WT50B review
|Review: December 2012|
In a nutshell: Panasonic's flagship 42 inch LED TV is a good all-round performer, but it's not the best and we can't find a reason to recommend spending all that money.
Design & looks
Panasonic have a reputation for turning out TVs with bland, uninspired looks. So it's nice to see that they've made much more of an effort with their flagship 2012 LED range.
Whilst the stand does nothing to wow us, the panel itself is really quite gorgeous, with a slimline bezel and little chrome and preps details that make a difference. It's incredibly slim too.
At the same time, Panasonic are really just catching up with the likes of LG, Sony and Samsung when it comes to design. An old-fashioned style to menus doesn't make us sit up and pay attention when we're scrolling through options onscreen. Nor does the touchscreen remote really feel like it's geared up for usability.
Picture quality is what you choose a Panasonic TV for, but can this LED TV match the quality we've come to expect from Panasonic's plasma range? Indeed, can it match the best that other manufacturers make in the LED TV world?
Well, Panasonic are starting off well with a high-quality IPS panel and an astonishingly fast 1600Hz scanning rate. A new filter that suppresses external reflections has been added. And on top of everything, the Smart VIERA Engine Pro processor is on hand to reduce noise, upscale to HD and generally improve the picture quality.
The result is a bright image that also manages to produce moderately deep blacks. The wide viewing angel from the IPS panel means that you can sit off centre and still enjoy the same image quality, unlike most Samsung and Sony LED TVs. As you'd expect from such a fast panel, there's really no sign of ghosting or blurring even during fast action gaming or sport.
The one area where things aren't perfect is to do with the LED backlighting. The TV is edgelit, which is why it's so thin, but the system of local dimming is able to control lighting levels over just 16 different screen areas. This limits the capability of the screen to display contrasts between light and dark, and there is a problem of light leaking out behind bright areas and into dark ones, leading to cloudiness. You might not notice this all the time, but if you enjoy moody films and dramas, it'll certainly become apparent.
So, despite Panasonic's strong reputation in plasma technology, their LED offering doesn't quite cut it in this respect.
When it comes to 3D, Panasonic use active shutter technology, and two active shutter glasses are included with the TV. For such an expensive TV, that seems rather mean to us.
Anyway, 3D performance is close to faultless. There's no sign of crosstalk between left and right images, so you can simply enjoy the film without having your brain confuzzled. We do find that the glasses reduce brightness quite noticeably, but since the screen is so bright in the first place, this really isn't a problem.
This TV has 2 front speakers and a subwoofer, and there is perhaps a little more bass than with other TVs, but it's not a match for the Sony 40HX853. "Average" is probably a fair assessment.
Panasonic's VIERA Connect is quite comprehensive, with support for youtube, the BBC iPlayer, facebook, twitter and Netflix. There's also a web browser with HTML5 support.
It feels like nothing has been left out when it comes to connecting this TV to other devices. Internet access is available via Wi-Fi or an ethernet cable. There's a generous helping of 4 HDMI ports, 3 USB connections and even an SD memory card slot. You can plug in a headphone or get audio out via an optical cable. There's also support for component, composite and PC connections.
In addition, the TV comes with both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners.
Conclusion - too expensive
We so wanted to give this TV a 5 star review, but we just can't. A television this expensive has to be absolutely outstanding in every area.
The WT50 just scrapes into the top league when it comes to looks, although it's let down by dated on-screen menus and a fiddly remote control. Panasonic's VIERA Connect is a good Smart TV offering, and we have no complaints about connectivity or audio quality. We should also mention the best-in-class A+ energy efficiency.
However, it's in the core function of picture quality that we find the biggest problem. It's not that the picture is bad. It's certainly above average. But it doesn't reflect the cost of the product. We find better picture quality in Sony's KDL-46HX853 and in LG's 47LM760T, both of which have larger screens and are cheaper than the Panasonic.
If it had been priced more sensibly, we'd have loved this TV, but as it is we really can't recommend it.
Panasonic TX-L42WT50B features include:
- 42 inch LED-backlit screen
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Clear Panel Pro
- Smart VIERA Engine Pro
- Edge LED with backlight area control
- 1600 Hz backlight scanning
- 3D Ready (Active Shutter Progressive 3D)
- Game Mode
- Freeview HD & Freesat HD
- VIERA Connect with web browser
- Audio: Dolby Digital Plus/DolbyPulse/DTS 2.0+Digital Out, V-Audio ProSurround 2.1, front speaker (8 train speakers) x 2, woofer x 1
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet (LAN) x 1, HDMI x 4, USB x 3, Bluetooth, SD card, headphone x 1, component in (Y/Pb/Pr) / composite in (AV) x 1, digital audio out (optical) x 1, Audio In x 1, PC in x 1, RF In (Terrestrial / Cable input) x 1
- Standard remote and touchpad remote
- Energy efficiency class: A+
- Typical power consumption: 56W
- Size without stand (WxHxD): 956 x 569 x 27 mm
- Size with stand (WxHxD): 956 x 647 x 312 mm
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