Also making the screen’s dark scene flaws more aggravating is the really pretty superb quality of the Panasonic TX-L47WT50’s handling of bright footage. For instance, HD broadcasts and Blu-rays look superb for the majority of the time - extremely sharp and detailed, and saturated in truly resplendent colours which, despite their vibrancy, still manage to exhibit both an extreme range of tone and pretty much infinite blend of subtleties.
Noise is practically non-existent too, and motion clarity is among the best we’ve ever seen from an LCD TV, even if you don't use the IFC system. Though personally we felt quite happy to use it on its Minimum level, as this delivers some benefits without throwing up nasty side effects.
The image’s contrast looks remarkably extreme for an LCD TV too with good Blu-ray movie sources. It’s just a shame this comes at the expense of the backlight flaws we’ve already discussed.
The Panasonic TX-L47WT50 is also a strong standard definition performer. It upscales standard def to its full HD resolution very nicely, adding plenty of detail and sharpness while simultaneously doing a very good job of weeding out source noise. There remains a little MPEG compression 'flicker' in the backgrounds of low-quality channels, but this isn't majorly distracting, and can be tamed by using the MPEG NR system - though we'd recommend only using this on its lowest setting and not at all if you’re watching HD.
Panasonic TX-L47WT50 3D
Squirting some 3D into the Panasonic TX-L47WT50 and donning one of the two pairs of active shutter glasses that ship free with the TV also garners some pretty spectacular results. Particularly outstanding is the picture's almost total freedom from the crosstalk double ghosting noise usually associated with active 3D technology. Not even the infamous lanterns at night sequence in Tangled causes the set any trouble, with each lantern looking crisp, clean and ‘singular’. So impressive an achievement is this that we felt like standing up and applauding.
Detail levels with HD 3D feeds are sumptuous too, reminding you in no uncertain terms why the active format was created and stressing that no matter what LG and some commentators might say, passive 3D just cannot deliver the same degree of flawless HD sharpness and detail (without using a 4K panel, anyway).
Also surprising is how bright and colourful 3D looks despite the dimming impact of the 3D glasses. This proves very handy for enhancing the sense of depth in the image, especially during dark scenes, as you can see background detail that can go missing on lesser active 3D panels.
With motion also looking decently crisp and fluid, the only serious issue we have with the Panasonic TX-L47WT50's 3D is the amount of flicker we occasionally detected. You can also sometimes see the backlight 'chunking' problems noted with 2D viewing, but these are reduced in impact by the dimming effect of the glasses. All in all, the L47WT50 is as convincing a display of 3D’s living room potential as we've seen on a TV.
The Panasonic TX-L47WT50's 3D skills make it a potentially tasty gaming screen. So it's nice to find it only suffering with around 38ms of input lag. This should not be enough to significantly impede your gaming.
Sonically the Panasonic TX-L47WT50 is better than expected given how ultra-slim it is. Bass is in short supply, inevitably, but the mid-range is open enough to avoid sounding compressed except under the severest of pressure. Plus there's strong treble detailing, and a reasonably wide soundstage. Voices can sound a bit distorted at high volumes, and clearly no speakers as tiny as those in the L47WT50 will ever rival a separate audio system. But overall, we were quietly impressed.
Panasonic TX-L47WT50 Verdict
The Panasonic TX-L47WT50 is one of the most frustrating TVs we’ve ever dealt with. With bright, colourful footage of the sort which, to be fair, makes up the majority of your viewing time, it’s capable of producing some of the very best picture quality we’ve seen, complete with stunning sharpness, rich colours and bags of contrast. It's class-leadingly good with 3D, too.
With dark footage, though, it's nearly impossible to get a completely satisfying, immersive picture, thanks to the lack of black level response without local dimming active, or the distracting backlight issues you get when it is active.
This makes the set a potential non-starter for serious film fans, for whom Panasonic's plasma screens this year will surely be a better option.