The Panasonic L42FT60 is a 42-inch, 3D-capable TV that sits just above the centre of Panasonic’s latest LCD range, between the previously tested Panasonic DT65 series and ET60 series. It also carries Panasonic’s widely acclaimed new My Home Screen Smart TV interface, and a seriously attractive design. It's also available in 47-inch and 55-inch sizes.
But will it turn out to be one of those mid-range models that struggles to justify its existence in a range, or will it turn out to offer a perfect balance of features, performance and value?
Its design certainly gets the L42FT60 off to a fine start. Its frame is slim – barely 1cm across – and highly attractive with its silvery metallic finish. It also sports the fetching open ‘V Neck’ stand attachment found on the more expensive DT65 series, while a see-through wing along the bottom edge helps further the sense that the screen is so light it’s floating.
Connectivity is solid. Multimedia users are well catered for, with three USBs, an SD card slot, and built-in Wi-Fi and LAN options for adding the TV to your network. The network connections can be used for taking the TV online with Panasonic’s Viera Connect service, or streaming a good selection of video, photo and music file formats from networked PCs.
The one connection disappointment is that you only get three HDMIs when most rival TVs at this level of the market offer four.
You can read our in-depth Panasonic Smart TV review for a full, blow-by-blow look at Panasonic's smart TV system, so we’ll limit ourselves here to saying it could do with more video content providers (especially UK catch-up services), while My Home Screen is possibly the friendliest and certainly the most customisable smart TV interface we’ve seen to date.
The L42FT60 does not join the DT65 series in shipping with one of Panasonic’s touchpad remote controls, however, though given the highly questionable design of this remote it’s no great loss to the L42FT60.
More of a pity is the L42FT60’s use of a single tuner versus the twin tuner setup that kicks in with the DT65 series, as this means you can’t enjoy the multi-screen viewing options possible on the twin-tuner models.
Looking for other specification differences that define the L42FT60’s position between Panasonic’s more expensive DT65 and cheaper ET60 models, it chiefly differs from the DT65 series in not having a local dimming system to boost the contrast delivered by its edge LED lighting array.
And it differs from the ET60 series by sporting a 1600Hz BLS (Backlight Scanning) panel driving system versus the cheaper model’s 600Hz BLS system; by supporting Panasonic’s new Hexa picture processing engine; by having earned the backing of image calibration experts the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF); and by supporting Panasonic’s significant 1080p Pure Direct and Super Clear Resolution processing modes.
As with all Panasonic TVs with a T in their name, the Panasonic L42FT60 supports passive 3D playback (active has been written out of Panasonic’s LCD story this year), and you get two pairs of glasses included free.
This seems a little stingy given how cheap passive 3D glasses are, but we guess it allows Panasonic to sneak in another small point of difference with the step-up DT65 models, which offer four pairs of free glasses.