It has been a hit and miss year for Panasonic’s LCD TVs so far. They’ve all struck gold on the design front, courtesy of a sudden shift towards ultra-slim bezels and a taste for metallic finishes. Some of them have impressed us greatly with their picture quality too.
There have been a few issues too, however, particularly with the way Panasonic’s new 55in panels handle dark scenes. It’s as if Panasonic hasn’t yet fully mastered the admittedly tricky art of successfully lighting a really massive screen with lights ranged around its edges.
With this in mind, we’re intrigued to see what we make of the Panasonic TX-L47DT50. For with its 47in screen, it sits neatly between the 42in Panasonic sizes we’ve generally liked and the 55in models we generally haven’t.
The DT50 part of its name signifies that the L47DT50 belongs to Panasonic’s second-best TV series, one step down from Panasonic’s WT50 flagships. So as you would expect, it’s very well specified indeed.
For starters, its design features a remarkably slender (barely 1cm) bezel adorned with a lovely brushed metal finish. Its rear is also trim, ensuring that it’s right up there aesthetically with the big guns from its Korean rivals.
Its connections are suitably extensive too. Four HDMIs get the ball rolling, and these are all built to the v1.4 spec to support the set’s active 3D playback. Next, we were intrigued to find an LNB input alongside the usual RF tuner jack, which turns out to feed into a fully functioning Freesat tuner.
To be honest, Freesat doesn’t seem quite as compelling an option as it used to be now that Freeview is available over a much wider part of the country and is also broadcasting HD. But then choice is always a good thing.
Any high-end TV worth its salt these days also needs to support the modern world’s obsession with multimedia. And the Panasonic TX-L47DT50 is well up to the job, thanks to three USB ports, an SD slot, LAN and built-in Wi-Fi network options, and a D-Sub PC port. The USBs can be used to record from the tuners as well as playing back a solid selection of video, photo and music files, while the LAN/Wi-Fi options can be used for either streaming the multimedia from networked DLNA PCs or for taking the TV online, with Panasonic’s Viera Connect service.
Viera Connect is still a little off the pace in content terms compared with what’s on offer from the likes of Sony and, especially, Samsung and LG. But the general quality of the content is high on Panasonic’s platform, even when it comes to some of the games on offer. Also, some aspects of its interface - most notably the marketplace where you can buy apps and even hardware - are excellent.
The main problems are that the key interface for accessing your installed apps is a little clunky, requiring too much tedious delving through different menu ‘layers’; and that at the time of writing there’s no LoveFilm app to accompany the BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Acetrax headliners.
We should add that the TX-L47DT50 series doesn’t enjoy the dual-core processing found inside the WT50s, and so you can’t enjoy those models’ impressive multi-tasking functionality while using the online features.
As noted earlier, the Panasonic TX-L47DT50 uses edge LED lighting to produce its pictures. Unlike the flagship WT50 series, though, the L47DT50 does not carry a local dimming engine, so as with the previously tested Panasonic L55DT50, we most likely won’t find this model achieving the same black level depths that the WT50s do.