Panasonic Viera 47 Inch LED TV

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 They’re superseded only by the flagship WT50, yet offer a similar ultra-thin bezel design at lower prices.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.

Design

Panasonic Viera DT50

An illuminated Panasonic logo etched on a translucent paneling.
(Credit: Philip Wong/CNET Asia)

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.

This 3D eyewear is light and fits comfortably over prescription glasses.
(Credit: Philip Wong/CNET Asia)

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..

Panasonic has finally introduced backlighting for its remote control in Asia.
(Credit: Philip Wong/CNET Asia)
panasonic remote control

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.

Panasonic Viera Features

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.

Here’s an overview of the Viera Connect user interface.
(Credit: Philip Wong/CNET Asia)

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 is how the new Internet browser rendered CNET Asia’s home page.
(Credit: Philip Wong/CNET Asia)

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.

Performance

TV broadcasts

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.

DVDs

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.

Blu-ray Discs

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.

3D

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.

Color accuracy

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.

Audio

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.

Miscellaneous

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.

Conclusion

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.