Panasonic sells the VT50A as a 55in and 65in model, although overseas markets also get a 50in panel.
There is some overlap here between the VT50A and ST50A, which comes in 50in, 60in and 65in sizes. For price comparisons, we’ll directly compare the $5999 65in VT50A to the $3999 ST50A. We have heard rumours that Panasonic has run out of stock of the 50in ST50A and is discontinuing the range next month — stay tuned for more news soon.
The VIERA VT50A, like the VT30A before it, is the most attractive and modern-looking plasma TV in Panasonic’s range. It’s got a borderless design with no bulky plastic bezel; a single sheet of glass runs across the entire face, with a thin strip of metal running around the edge for contrast.
The plasma display stops around an inch from the edge of the VT50A’s chassis — this is no edge-hugging Samsung Series 8 or LG LM9600 — but the overall design looks sleek, and the black borders help to boost screen contrast.
The stand of the VIERA VT50A doesn’t swivel, so the best option for using this TV in a big room is wall-mounting it on a tilt/swivel mount. A maximum depth of 50mm means the VT50A is thin enough to be attractive, but not as thin as a LED TV.
The Panasonic VT50A leads the field in connection options. Four HDMI ports (a step up from the ST50A’s three) are our go-to inputs, as well as the three USB 2.0 connectors and a SDXC memory card slot. There’s built-in Ethernet and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth for wireless keyboards and mice, digital audio output, and a shared component/composite audio/video jack.
The VT50A comes with two remotes: Panasonic’s standard excellent backlit candybar remote control, and a touch-pad pebble which handles basic volume/channel/power functions alongside a virtual mouse to navigate the VIERA Connect apps and the TV’s Web browser.
Setting up the VT50A is a simple exercise. Panasonic’s stands are simultaneously the best and simplest that are currently on the market — they’re very solid, and hold together with clips and plenty of screws. Once the TV is assembled and power/antenna/network connected, there’s a 5-minute setup process including scanning for digital and/or analogue TV stations, setting up your wired or wireless network, and updating the VIERA Connect Smart TV service. After that, you’re ready to go.
Our testing of the VT50A revealed a plasma panel that sits extremely close to the ST50A in picture quality in most situations.
The VIERA VT50A is a better television than the ST50A when it comes to setting up and optimising the picture to suit room conditions and viewing material. It’s got more calibration options in the menu, and has a variety of THX certified presets that are an easy go-to for good picture quality. We chose THX True Cinema as the most accurate mode of the available presets.
With anything but the best Blu-ray video content, the two TV models are effectively identical — after minor calibration, the VT50A displays the same excellent levels of black that we saw on the ST50A. With sharpening turned down completely, brightness slightly lowered, and a slight backing-off of colour in the THX Cinema mode, the VIERA VT50A is one of the best and most accurate TVs out of the box that we’ve tested.
The same is true of the ST50A, though, and in the majority of our downloaded video and DVD quality tests the two TVs are almost indistinguishable. The VT50A comes into its own when it’s fed exclusively with the best quality Blu-ray movies with plenty of colour — Avatar looks better on the VT50A than the ST50A, but the difference in still minor.
The factor responsible for this difference is the VT50A’s Pure Direct 1080P mode, which cuts down on video processing with high quality sources to theoretically increase (or, more specifically, not decrease) the detail visible on-screen. This is most visible in very colourful scenes, with very slightly more detail in super-saturated segments of the screen. Watch Avatar or Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and you’ll notice Pure Direct 1080P making a slight difference, but watch the colour-washed-out The Dark Knight or Terminator: Salvation and the Pure Direct effect — and the difference between the VT50A and the ST50A — becomes harder to distinguish.
Motion is, again, a very close race between the two sets. In scenes of very fast motion — a fast tracking and panning shot from a BBC F1 race broadcast, for example — the VT50A shows ever so slightly more detail, but the difference is small. The VT50A wins a comprehensive victory when it comes to reproducing 24p Blu-ray video, though, with a more cinematic and flicker-free rendition than the ST50A. 3D is similarly an effectively equal competition — both TVs are excellent at displaying high quality 3D Blu-ray content with minimal or no cross-talk, and both can create faux-3D video from a standard 2D input.
The online features of the Panasonic VIERA VT50A, delivered through the VIERA Connect service, are identical to the ST50A — we’d recommend you read the Smart TV section of that review for more information.
Like on the ST50A, the VT50A’s features are acceptable but not great — we’d purchase a stand-alone Smart Blu-ray player from Samsung or LG to add a wider range of features, apps and services.
Panasonic’s VIERA VT50A is an extremely high quality television, and while it doesn’t include any novel Smart features like voice or gesture control we think it’s better because of it. The VT50A’s stiffest competition comes from one rung down in the company’s own hierarchy, from the upstart ST50A. The VIERA VT50A doesn’t do too much to distinguish itself from the ST50A, so unless you’re sold by the more comprehensive calibration, the design, or the minor picture quality boosts, we’d think carefully about which TV to choose.
The VIERA VT50A is better than its chief rival, but it’s also significantly more expensive. If you can’t find a ST50A then the VT50A would be our go-to TV for picture quality, but it does come at a large price premium.
The subject of today’s review is the Panasonic TX-L42E5B 2D-only LED LCD TV, an entry-level product geared towards the budget-conscious within the company’s 2012 lineup of HDTVs, although its price is probably closer to the lower spectrum of midrange models. So with that in mind, let’s see how this flat-screen television stacks up against (high-tier) low-end and (low-tier) midrange offerings from competing brands.
Note:While we did not test the smaller, 32-inch Panasonic TX-L32E5B, there shouldn’t be any drastic difference in picture performance considering that all models within the Viera E5 range share similar specifications.
Design-wise the TX-L42E5 doesn’t do anything special to stand out from the crowd. The glass border resembles previous Samsung LCD TVs, as does the piano finish. Enclosed in glossy plastic shell, the base lacks swivel functionality. The overall presentation is very fitting to its price tag.
Assembly of the table-tap stand is quite straightforward, owing to the two-step method. The on-screen welcome guide is very efficient and simple to follow.
Like most slim LED TVs, all HDMI ports on the TX-L42E5B are side-mounted, but there’s enough spacing for the cables not to be seen. Both component and RGB SCART connections require the supplied proprietary adapters.
The Panasonic TX-L42E5 features the same GUI found on last year’s Viera LED LCD televisions. Navigating through various layers of the menu is effortless to say the least, thanks to the clean layout and rapid responsiveness.
However, Panasonic still hasn’t added numerical values to basic options like [Contrast] and [Colour], which can be frustrating during calibration.
It is also worth noting that the image reset option is not accompanied by a confirmation warning, which means settings can be lost unless they are locked via Pass Code. The Panasonic E5 series doesn’t support independent source customisation.
The supplied remote control is typical of Panasonic’s signature design with one exception; the buttons are stiffer compared to those supplied with high-end models.
Accurate greyscale and gamma are vital for realistic portrayal of any given image, so the display should be calibrated to a set of standards used by the video and broadcast industry. As far as HDTV is concerned, the set standard for colour space is Rec. 709 which is similar to sRGB, and both standards share identical white point D65 (we chose a gamma value of 2.4).
Greyscale calibration ensures all greys between black and white are free from colour dominance, which is achieved by assigning the RGB values to 6500K Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT). Regrettably, it is not possible for a consumer-grade display to yield 100% accuracy, so the goal is to maintain errors within acceptable levels as indicated by Delta E (dE) values. The Panasonic TX-L42E5B features 2-point white balance controls which we used to calibrate greyscale.
Post-calibration CCT in [True Cinema] mode
Post-calibration RGB tracking in [True Cinema] mode
Post-calibration delta errors (dEs) in [True Cinema] mode
The TX-L42E5 is equipped with a 3-axis colour management system (CMS), which is unfortunately only limited to the primary colours of red, green and blue (RGB). Trying to correct the hue and saturation of green introduced major errors in other colours, so it was left as is.
CIE chart with reference to HD Rec.709
Colour luminance levels in [True Cinema] mode
Colour saturation tracking in [True Cinema] mode
Due the complex nature of LCDs, they are prone to a visual phenomenon called dirty screen effect (DSE), which often occurs during manufacturing and sometimes in transit. The severity can vary from one LCD panel to another, therefore the probability of obtaining a clean panel is entirely down to chance.
The TX-L42E5B review unit provided by Panasonic was free from most uniformity issues. Pure white tests did not reveal the common green, yellow and red tints, and at half brightness the panel did not exhibit any form of abnormality severe enough to hinder performance. The blacks were perfectly uniform. Since the test sample came from Panasonic, we cannot rule out the possibility that it was handpicked.
In [True Cinema] mode, the Panasonic TX-L42E5 with white level (contrast) set to 120 cd/m2 yielded dynamic range and ANSI contrast ratio of 1200:1, which is a new record for an S-IPS panel sourced from LG. It’s important to remember that Panasonic’s LCD TV range is the answer to plasma level performance in a brightly lit environment, and is never intended to compete with displays designed for dark environments. But, thanks to the record-breaking black level, as well as the glossy filter (which helps to increase perceived contrast), the TXL42E5B is suitable for semi-dark environments. Just don’t turn off the lights.
Furthermore, it was possible to obtain VA-quality black level of 0.06 cd/m2 by lowering the contrast (8 clicks right from 0) at the cost of top-end luminance, which then dropped to 80 cd/m2. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but when viewing dark movies (such as Aliens), the dip in luminance is hardly noticeable.
PixPerAn is an excellent tool to evaluate motion artefacts and as expected, the motion rendered by the Panasonic TX-L42E5B was free from artefacts caused by pixel lag. However, akin to most LED LCD televisions, the 42E5 suffered from ghosting effect (original image accompanied by two or more distinctive ghost images) during fast motion caused by out-of-sync backlight scanning. To reduce the effect, the contrast must be set to maximum, which is not recommended in home environment. The ghosting effect can only be observed on content that are free from blur or with negligible blur (for example sports and video games).
Overscan: Can be disabled via the Setup menu, but is applied to all external inputs by default.
Blacker-than-Black (HDMI): Yes, but only in DVI Mode.
Viewing Angle: Panasonic LCD TVs are known for their excellent viewing angles thanks to the IPS panel used. However, due to the absence of advanced components such as True-White Polarizer, blacks become lighter when viewed off-angle.
Sharpness: Defeatable sharpness. Resolves all 1080 lines when static.
To evaluate the image quality rendered by the Panasonic Viera TX-L42E5B, a small number of carefully chosen images were used to detect visible artefacts/errors. Aeon was used to detect errors in skin tone, luminance and depth; whereas Acela Express was used to detect greyscale and gamma errors in addition to black crush.
The TXL42E5 yielded excellent results following basic calibration in [True Cinema] mode. The mass shades of warm colours that envelop Charlize Theron’s face, neck and chest were clearly visible, very close to a calibrated display.
IPS panels have the best grayscale tracking of all current flat-panel televisions (with the possible exception of OLED TV). So as predicted, the performance of the 42E5 was excellent and comparable to the calibrated Dell 2209WA. There was no visible evidence of any serious black crush or any form of gamma error.
The majority of HD content were beautifully rendered by the TX-L42E5B thanks to the new and improved 10-bit processor, which amended the issues we’ve noted on its predecessors.
We failed to spot any form of error that would normally destroy or severely impact picture quality, which remained clean and faithful to the source. Thanks the wide viewing angle of IPS Mode, the image quality appeared very natural and realistic. There was no hint of translucent blacks that is common to VA panels with excessive gamma shift.
Speaking of blacks, the Panasonic TX-L42E5 did a fantastic job retaining an acceptable level of shadow detail in a dimly-lit environment. However, F1 did highlight the out-of-sync backlight issue – fast moving segments were accompanied by 2-3 after-images, which proved rather distracting.
Playback of 24p material was faithful to its source as expected from Panasonic. In fact, the motion is comparable to digital cinemas.
The TXL42E5B is sadly not gamer’s panel. The input lag is simply too high for fast-paced games requiring spilt-second inputs, and the motion blur was highly distracting when playing 60p games. It would be better to opt for plasma TVs, since they offer quick response and clean motion in one package.
As with all slim HDTVs, the audio quality suffers greatly. It is preferable to outsource the sound to external speakers or home cinema system.
Panasonic has produced an LED LCD TV that is worthy of recommendation. They have listened to our feedback, and corrected the issues that plagued previous models. In comparison to the Samsung ES5500 and the LG LM620T we recently reviewed, the Viera TX-L42E5B is a clear winner in spite of the Samsung’s lower blacks and the LG’s 3D capability.
Planet LED TV Ed – we normally stick to LED TV sets, but we really liked this Panasonic Plasma TV review, so we have reproduced it here. Certainly the image on Plasma is excellent, bright, vivid and colorful and the 3D images tend to be nice and crisp. Whislt we still favor LED TV, Plasma has definitely ironed out many of the inherent problems, so here courtesy of Goodgearguide – the Viera ST50A reviewed for your pleasure :>)
Panasonic has begun a swing away from its mainstay plasmas towards thinner, more power-friendly LED TVs in 2012, although its top television is still a plasma — but the range-topping VT50A is at least $3799 for the 55-inch, and a painful $5999 for the 65-inch model. (prices have dropped since this report was written – Planet LED TV Ed)
Enter the VIERA ST50A: it’s one step down from the VT50A in Panasonic’s plasma hierarchy, but comes with a massive reduction in price. The 50-inch model we’re testing here is a mere $1749 RRP, while the 55-inch and 65-inch variants are $2799 and $3999 — cheap by comparison. We’ve even seen the 50-inch model for less than $1300 at some online retailers.
The VIERA ST50A isn’t especially thin (or especially attractive) when you compare it to LED TVs like the LG LM9600 or Samsung Series 8, but it’s not bad for a plasma. At around 45mm thick, with a 35mm bezel, it’s much more svelte than the plasmas of yesteryear, although the new Samsung Series 8 plasma is more attractive and thinner. The stand of the ST50A has around 30 degrees of swivel built in, so it’s versatile.
The screen of the Panasonic ST50A has a moderately glossy coating, but it’s good at keeping reflections to a minimum. It’ll still reflect a bright light source that’s directly in front or to the side, but the screen coating dissipates the reflection somewhat — it’s not a Pioneer-esque mirror finish.
Three HDMI ports is a backward step from the four offered on 2010’s V20A, although last year’s ST30A was when the cut was made. The ST50A can also input composite and component video, and has built-in Wi-Fi as well as a wired Ethernet network port. These connection options are standard for a TV of this size and price point.
There’s also three USB 2.0 ports, to which a Skype camera or USB flash drive or hard drive can be connected. The TV can play music, audio and video — we tried AVI, MKV, MP3 and JPEG files successfully.
When we turned the VIERA ST50A on and on a black screen, we didn’t notice any buzzing — a problem that persists with plasma TVs — on our test 50-inch set. Sitting directly in front or to the sides of the TV, we didn’t pick up any undue noise. With an ear directly against the back top of the TV’s chassis we could hear an electrical buzz, but it was very very quiet and became quieter as the TV warmed up. With any audio at all playing, any hint of a buzz was imperceptible.
We’ve generally been impressed by Panasonic’s plasma televisions in the past, for their clean and trouble-free picture quality at generally attractive price points. While the VT-series Panasonics are priced squarely in enthusiast territory, the ST50A is much, much cheaper but retains most of the picture quality nous that Panasonic is celebrated for.
The ST50A can display 12,288 shades of gradation — only half of the VT50A’s pro-level 24,576-step range. It also misses out on Panasonic’s image-optimising Pure Image Creation processing and processing-free 1080p Pure Direct mode. Despite these impediments, we think the Panasonic ST50A looks brilliant when it comes to displaying high-quality video sources.
We tested the Panasonic VIERA ST50A with several sources: compressed 480p AVI, 720p and 1080p MKV video files from an external hard drive, DVDs of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, as well as our standard 2D and 3D Blu-ray test discs of The Dark Knight, Terminator: Salvation, Avatar 3D and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 3D.
We switched the Panasonic VIERA ST50A to its True Cinema mode as soon as we turned it on — it offers the most realistic picture quality, although it has a very very slight overall green tinge. Standard mode is brighter but comes at the slight cost of minor shadow and highlight detail.
The first thing that you notice about the ST50A is how deep and dark and inky its black levels are: in a dark room, if there’s any light source on the rest of the screen, black areas are entirely dark. This is something that no LCD, LED backlight or no, can achieve. The ST50A’s blacks are properly black with no blueish hue (as most LEDs tend to have, albeit only slightly). They’re much better than Panasonic TVs from 2011 and 2010, too; we’d go so far as to say as they’re almost as dark as our benchmark Pioneer LX509A.
Detail levels with both high definition and standard definition content are excellent. Our Blu-ray discs resolved 1080p Full HD detail perfectly with no visible over-sharpening in the default True Cinema settings, and 480p upscaling of standard definition content was smooth and pleasant to watch. We did lower sharpness by half to give detail edges a very slightly smoother, more film-like look. The Panasonic VIERA ST50A is one of the most detailed televisions we have watched — the fact that it’s so cheap makes it even better.
Colour performance is, again, excellent. The True Cinema mode is definitely the go-to for colour accuracy — in comparison, Standard looks too blue and Dynamic looks outright garish. Backing off the Colour option by three or four increments solves any slightly-too-bright green and yellow tones that persist in True Cinema, and enthusiasts would do well to bump up red and blue saturation very slightly while backing off green in the Advanced Settings menu. These tweaks aren’t necessary, but they do bring the ST50A towards near-perfect colour reproduction. Whether you’re watching a Blu-ray or something lower-quality, the ST50A has a stunning picture.
Motion performance is improved from last year’s plasma TVs. Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation can introduce some odd artifacts when fast-moving text is juxtaposed against a slow-moving background, but setting this to Off or even Minimum solves the problem without making video too smooth. We gave DiRT 3 a quick run-through on the Xbox 360 to test motion performance in Game mode and came away very impressed. Sport also looks great; our favourite F1 1080p clip was clean and detailed during fast motion.
3D is also much improved from previous models. The ST50A is quite bright in its 3D mode — not LED TV bright, but bright for a plasma — and we appreciated the inclusion of 3D picture settings for a calibrator to tweak. We didn’t notice any cross-talk in either Avatar 3D or the difficult scenes of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 3D. 3D is slightly blurrier than 2D content of the same source. The ST50A offers a wide range of customisation for its 3D mode, and with a little tweaking we were able to eliminate any trailing or ghosting effects from video.
We did run a couple of synthetic image tests on a Spears Munsil calibration Blu-ray disc. We generally prefer real-world tests for comparing TVs, but after the ST50A’s excellent performance we wanted to check that everything was kosher. Most tests resolve excellent levels of detail, although one test (white circles in a dart-board pattern on a black background) did show up one anomaly: a clover-shaped area in the centre of the screen. This points to excessive software sharpening, but it’s not at all evident in any of our other testing. We’d disregard this strange occurrence for the most part.
The Panasonic VIERA ST50A stumbles somewhat when it’s directly compared to an LED TV in terms of outright brightness. LED TVs can produce a brighter overall picture for both 2D and 3D video. Although the 2012 range of Panasonic plasmas has increased brightness over the previous generation, we’d still choose an LED TV for viewing in a bright room. Plasma TVs only thrive when you can control and reduce the ambient brightness in a room.
The Panasonic VIERA ST50A has a mediocre range of Smart TV features. It has integrated access to ABC iview, Quickflix, BigPond Movies, PLUS7, Skype, Facebook, YouTube and the VIERA Market of apps, but it’s a little sluggish and the whole experience is a little tacked-on. You can also control the TV through iOS and Android apps over Wi-Fi.
The Smart TV experiences of Samsung, LG and Sony are far and away better than the VIERA Connect feature of the Panasonic ST50A, with voice and motion controls, fitness apps, streaming music and concerts and the like. Panasonic’s integration seems to be an afterthought in the same way as Sharp and Toshiba’s services.
There is a solution to this, though, and it’s a very simple one. We’d buy a Smart-enabled Blu-ray player from Sony, Samsung or LG — probably Samsung, and probably the BD-E5900, which is packed full of features for less than $200. Plug one of these in, hook it up to your home network, and you’ve got almost all of the Smart features of a competing TV on your Panasonic ST50A — problem solved.
We’re shocked that you can buy this TV for $1300. Its picture quality performance is very, very close to the Pioneer LX509A that cost $6500 just a few years ago. We have to question how much better the top-of-the-line VT50A is, though, at such a price premium. We don’t love the middling Smart TV feature-set, but this can be resolved with a $200 Samsung, Sony or LG Smart-enabled Blu-ray player.
We have to conclude that given its excellent picture quality, the Panasonic VIERA ST50A is extremely good value for money. This is particularly true for the 50-inch model ($1300 is a bargain), although the 60-inch at ~$2200 and 65-inch for ~$3400 are also very appealing.
Even disregarding price tags, the ST50A performs favourably against the top-tier [artnid:421882|LG LM9600]], Samsung Series 8, and Sony BRAVIA HX850. When we bring price into the equation, Panasonic’s VIERA ST50A is the TV that we would buy this year.
Just a note – this is only the second 5 star review we’ve ever given a TV. The first was the Pioneer KURO PDP-LX609A in 2009. We are very, very impressed with the VIERA ST50A.
Television makers have always endeavored to make real life images appear on their TV screens for viewers to enjoy their effects in the cozy warmth of their own homes. This would ensure viewers need not always have to go to the nearest theaters for enjoying such an experience where privacy is usually the last thing they can expect to have. A perfect 3D TV set to complement an enriching home theater system can be the right solution. One TV set that has taken large strides in this direction is the Panasonic TC-P55VT30 3D TV. This is a HD capable 3D TV which has also won the Gold in the Top Ten Review award.
One has to consider quite a few issues though prior to putting in the big money into a 3D TV for this as a product is nothing compared to a house or a car, the other assets that people do put in large amount of money. Panasonic however, in its TV products has done lots of technological advances and their vibrant colors speaks a lot of the standard.
The Panasonic 3D TV is based on active technology where one has to wear glasses that are quite costly when compared to the ones used for passive TV sets. There is however the instant 3D effect that one gets while using the 3D viewing glasses which are required for active based 3D sets. The passive glasses does have different viewing effects on different individuals and at times have led to nauseous feeling amongst viewers. The active shutter viewing glasses have mechanism on them that operates the shutter depending on what should be seen by the viewer. No work is to be done by the viewer for this case.
Robb Report magazine awarded the Panasonic Viera VT series the best in 2011. In their words: “No display panel on the market bests the picture of Panasonic’s Viera VT plasma models.”
The set has analog and digital input as well as output provisioned in its set. The labeling of the ports are very clear and at the rear of the set. One can also connect the set to their personal PC or even the network. For attaching other input devices like Blu-ray player or gaming device etc, the set has four HDMI ports. There is no dearth of input ports in this case.
There is also the 2d to 3d conversion circuitry in the set. The technology which the Vierra set uses for this conversion renders clearer pictures and is something that other sets cannot compare. One can therefore view content from DVD and Blu ray players with great clarity on their Panasonic set. The game players also would love this set given the fast pace at which the set works.
The refresh rate of the set is 600 MHz, which is by far the fastest that is available in the HDTV series which we find in the market. Other sets have a refresh rate of just 480 Hz.
One gets clearer image therefore in both 2D as well as 3D. There is also the fact that this being plasma based set, the images are displayed using the gases which has its ions charged electrically. There is no use of LED in this case. The set is therefore thin in dimension but is yet capable of producing a vibrant color output.
In case of the 56 inch model of the Viera VT series from Panasonic, one would get a resolution of 1920 x 1080, which gives it a near movie hall like display effect. The set comes with a default aspect ratio of 16:9 which can be changed by the viewers to 4:3 also.
Compared to the 65 inch the 55 inch set has a viewing angle of 178 degrees and the contrast ratio is 5 million pixels. For those who are new the viewing angle indicates the various angles from which one can view the screen with its images and the contrast ratio refers to the brightest white light on screen to the darkest black. Moving away from the set provides for better 3D effect in this set.
The set comes with a set of 3D glasses also included in the price. What’s more, the glasses are also quite fashionable in looks. One also gets a table top with the price of the set as well as a remote control which can be used with other connected devices of the set. To connect the set with the Wi-Fi a USB adapter is also provided for the same price.
Even though the cost of the set is high, it is yet advisable to invest money in the best product as the technology that is being used in this set is the latest and to stay for some time. The clarity of the picture and the other features makes this set the best buy even though at higher price that we get for the budget TV sets.
Sovan Mandal is the senior tablet and tech corespondent for goodereader.com and 3D Specialist. He brings a international approach to news that is not just applicable to the North American market, but also Asia, India, Europe and others. Sovy brings his own writing flavor to the website and is interested in Science Fiction, Technology and Writing. Any questions, send an email
The Viera DT50 series is the second-tier 3D LED TV range from Panasonic. They’re superseded only by the flagship WT50, yet offer a similar ultra-thin bezel design at lower prices. Some of the new functions include a Web browser, onboard Wi-Fi and backlight for its remote control.
Performance-wise, this 47-incher is a solid 3D performer and delivered relatively smooth and crisp visuals. However, some movie buffs might find the panel’s unusually bluish colors unnatural and its grayish blacks less than satisfactory.
Here’s our assessment of the 47-inch TH-L47WT50.
The WT50 may feature a flashier crescent stand, but the TH-L47DT50 is just as attractive with a 11mm-thin bezel in silver-brushed-metal finish. There’s also an illuminated Panasonic logo that’s etched on a translucent surface (refer to the above image). While we had no difficulty using the lightly recessed side A/V inputs, the TV buttons on the rear are harder to reach. Onscreen labels can be activated to mitigate the less-than-ideal placement.
At just 30g, the latest Panasonic 3D goggles (model TY-ER3D4MA) are one of the lightest active shutter models in the market. They fit comfortably over most prescription glasses and sport a full wrap-around frame to block ambient light. Two adjustable rubberized nose pads and curvy legs also provide a closer fit. It would have been more convenient if the battery compartment’s cover is not secured by a screw, though..
Backlighting has been added for most of the remote’s tactile buttons except for the playback controls. This is accompanied by a new glossy finish for the otherwise familiar ergonomic and responsive clicker. Dedicated shortcut keys are provided for most important functions, too–there’re separate TV and A/V keys for faster input selection, as well as for 3D and Internet (Smart TV).
Among the picture modes are Professional 1 and 2 to support Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) day- and night-time calibration. They both feature a two-point white balance function and a RGB color management system. But unlike LG and Samsung, Panasonic has yet to offer a user guide, test patterns and other useful tools for its software menu.
The TH-L47DT50 utilizes IPS-Alpha technology, which offers a higher contrast and wider viewing angles than other LED TVs. There’s also a new “1,600Hz Backlight Scanning” function to render smoother visuals through a fast 200Hz screen refresh rate and scanning backlight. In the audio department, a subwoofer and 16 micro-sized speakers are used to output fuller-bodied sound.
With Bluetooth connectivity, the latest Panasonic active shutter 3D glasses are more resistant to external interference. Like Sharp’s 3D goggles, a 3D-to-2D mode is available to provide relief from potential giddiness after prolonged 3D viewing. 3D compatibility-wise, this Viera supports most common 3D content such as 3D Blu-ray Discs and can simulate 3D effects for 2D programs.
This year, Panasonic has added a Flash-ready Internet browser for its Viera Connect smart TV platform. An updated HD version of YouTube and more video-streaming apps such as Wealth TV 3D and Snagfilms have been introduced as well. That said, the total number of apps is still much lower than the offerings from LG and Samsung. Click here for our 2012 Viera Connect hands-on.
On the one hand, the TH-L47DT50 stands out among high-end TVs with a stronger connectivity suite comprising an SDXC card slot, three USB ports and onboard Wi-Fi. But on the other, the PC and component-video sockets cannot accept 1080p signals, while the HDMI inputs lack Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) support. We’re not fans of the messy breakout cables used by Panasonic, too.
Couch potatoes will not be disappointed with the clean, fluid and relatively sharp TV broadcast visuals offered by this Viera. We also noticed there was less ghosting and a slightly higher clarity for most digital channels. Unlike other TVs, there was actually no fluctuation in speaker volume when we switched between analog and digital programs, thanks to Panasonic’s Auto Gain Control.
The TH-L47DT50′s DVD-upscaling performance was quite good with no image cropping in widescreen mode–but it was not flawless. Although the Viera was on par with the LG 47LM9800 in terms of overall details and motion reproduction, there were visibly more jaggies and graininess for older films. This could be attributed to its overly conservative noise reduction (NR) system.
Most Blu-ray movies we tested looked more realistic and distinctively film-like on this 47-incher. There were also plenty of subtle details to feast our eyes on, save for some judder and mild motion blurring during slower panning scenes. We also noticed higher background noise, which was an issue observed during DVD playback, too.
We like the strong depth and fairly effective 2D-to-3D conversion engine. More importantly, the bright and crisp images were devoid of double images (crosstalk) common among active shutter 3D TVs. Another highlight is the exceptionally wide viewing angles of the 3D glasses. Still, judder was heavier for 3D playback versus 2D mode, while the glasses flickered moderately under room lighting.
Despite the panel’s saturated hues and revealing shadow detail, there are many areas that can be improved when it comes to color accuracy. For starters, onscreen colors lacked the warm tonality projected in theaters, resulting in a somewhat unnatural blue tint and skewed skin tones. Furthermore, the TV’s black-level is one of the lightest among newer LED-edgelit TVs and appeared more grayish than black.
The onboard subwoofer-assisted speakers produced clear and full-bodied sound with plenty of reserved power to spare. This was further coupled by with an audibly wider soundstage created by V-Audio ProSurround technology.
The TH-L47DT50′s glossy screen is surprisingly less reflective than we expected and ranks high in both brightness uniformity and viewing angles. Lastly, the panel is more eco-friendly than other comparable models, consuming just 55W of power based on our calibrated picture settings.
The S$3,499 Panasonic Viera TH-L47DT50 is priced higher than its peers, such as the S$2,999 Sony KDL-46HX750 and S$3,099 LG 46LM7600. Part of DT50′s premium goes to its fast 200Hz IPS-Alpha panel, though the HX750 and LM7600 have the added advantage of local dimming.
Value-aside, the DT50 is capable of delivering crosstalk-free 3D visuals and performed relatively well across the board–the only exception is in color accuracy. If design and 3D performance are your top priorities, this Panasonic can be worth a look.
While Panasonic’s new Viera Connect has retained most of the original looks and feel of the 2011 version, a few enhancements have been introduced for the smart TV platform. Most notable among them is an Internet browser, multi-tasking capability, as well as a touchpad remote.
With its cloud-based design, all apps are run directly from Web servers. This means there is literally no limitation on the number of apps users can enjoy. However, the platform’s overall responsiveness is dependent on the users’ home Internet speed and remote control as we discovered during our testing.
Here are our observations of the new Viera Connect tested on the high-end Panasonic TH-L47DT50 3D LED TV.
Apps here are organized and displayed via a HomeScreen, which sports a straightforward user interface. There’s a live video window surrounded by up to seven apps, while More and Back options enable users to navigate between HomeScreens. A counter at the lower right of the screen keeps track of the current HomeScreen.
HomeScreen’s customization is limited to removing apps without the flexibility to rearrange them. This omission can be a hassle since you can’t organize frequently used apps for quicker access. Nonetheless, parental control function is available to block access of apps through user-customizable passwords.
For Singapore users, Panasonic has lined up more than 40 apps such as YouTube Leanback and Social Network TV–we’ll go into the details later. They’re available from the Viera Connect Market (app store) pictured above, though the numbers of apps still pales in comparison with the offerings from LG and Samsung.
he latest “Leanback” version of YouTube not only streams higher-quality HD videos, it is also specifically tailored for viewing on a big screen. The image above shows the latest CNET videos we found utilizing the search function, and they played quite smoothly.
Other noteworthy video streaming apps also include SnagFilms and WealthTV 3D. SnagFilm offers free Hindi full-featured films produced by independent movie directors, while WealthTV 3D is the pay TV version delivering 3D content.
The Social Network TV app provides access to your FaceBook and Tweeter accounts with uninterrupted TV viewing. You can easily toggle between the two social-networking services, as well as further expand the live TV window. Under this view, only your latest feed is visible at the bottom of the screen.
Viera Connect now comes with an Internet browser that supports Flash besides bookmark and zoom capabilities. However, you can only view one Web pages at a time unlike the new multi-tab browsers that are available on the Korean models.
A separate USB Skype camera allows users to make free international voice and video calls (up to 720p quality). The 2012 camera model is also more compact and now utilizes magnets to secure onto the TV. We found the overall picture quality relatively fluid and crisp, except for a slight audible delay.
Panasonic has also introduced multi-tasking support and a touchpad remote control, but these are available only for the flagship TH-P50VT50 and TH-L47WT50 TVs. Switching between apps is as simple as pressing the remote’s Viera Tool button, which lists all current running apps onscreen for user selection.
Meanwhile, the touchpad enhances the Web browsing experience by delivering both cursor control and page scrolling functions.
We like the simple and intuitive user interface, but felt that the app selection and content are still somewhat lacking. Save for Hindi films, there’s currently no video-on-demand service with an international appeal.
It’s also ironic that the system seems most responsive when paired with the regular remote, while there’s a slight lag when used with the Android TV app and touchpad controller. Some apps, such as PlayJam and Red Karaoke, crashed frequently during our tests as well.
Hopefully, Panasonic can resolve these issues soon via a firmware update.