The Panasonic L55DT50’s pervasive black level issues are made all the more unfortunate by the fact that in most other ways its pictures are very good - excellent, even. Sharpness levels, for instance, are exemplary, rendering HD material with just the sort of pixel level precision we love to see on screens as large as this one.
The sharpness looks totally natural, too, with no sense of grain or edge ‘ghosting’ to indicate that any sneaky false sharpness processing might be in play.
Bright scenes look excellent
Bright, colourful scenes look actually pretty awesome on the L55DT50, with punchy, dynamic colours that look more natural in tone than they do during dark scenes. There’s plenty of subtlety to colour blends once the TV isn’t having to try and render any really dark content, too.
Motion, meanwhile, looks terrific on the L55DT50. There’s hardly any resolution loss over moving objects - especially with the set’s Intelligent Frame Creation set to its lowest setting - and judder is pretty much non-existent too. Even when watching 3D.
Actually, from being average with 2D the Panasonic L55DT50 suddenly becomes stellar with 3D. With the darkening effect of the active shutter glasses hiding some of the set’s black level problems, you’re free to revel in the brightness, colour-richness and stunning sharpness of the L55DT50’s 3D images. Especially as there’s not a trace of crosstalk ghosting noise to take the edge off, well, edges.
In fact, ironically the L55DT50 is in some if not many ways the single best 3D TV we’ve ever tested. Only residual traces of backlight bleed/clouding in its corners during 3D viewing stop it from scoring a perfect 10 for its 3D efforts.
The L55DT50’s upscaling of standard definition broadcasts impresses too, as does its very respectable input lag figure of around 37ms. This shouldn’t be high enough to significantly reduce your console gaming exploits.
Finally, the TV joins the WT50 series in offering a respectable rather than scintillating audio experience. The set’s mid-range is decently open and clean, but deep bass and high trebles both tend to go AWOL.
The Panasonic L55DT50 is the second disappointing 55in LCD TV from Panasonic in a row, and is certainly no competition at all for the brand’s vastly superior big-screen plasma models. More worryingly, perhaps, the L55DT50 is also no match for the latest equivalent models from some rival LCD brands, especially Sony's much superior 55HX853 - a set which also makes the L55DT50's £2000 plus price tag look very expensive.
Based on our experience with the WT50 series it’s possible that smaller DT50 models might avoid some of the pitfalls experienced on this 55in model. We’ll try and get some in to find out. But so far as Panasonic's really big screen edge LED efforts are concerned, at least, it seems the brand needs to go back to the drawing board for 2013.