The screen also does a pretty good job of handling motion, even without Panasonic's IFC motion compensation active. In this respect the TV seems to perform slightly better than LG's equivalent TVs despite the shared core panel heritage - a function, presumably, of Panasonic using some slightly superior processing technology.
Provided you're careful with your settings, the Panasonic TX-L55ET5 is capable of a pretty good black level response for a TV that doesn't have any local dimming technology onboard. But that's not to say that its rendering of dark scenes is by any means perfect. To explain...
First, if you attempt to watch films using the provided True Cinema mode, you'll find yourself feeling very distracted during dark scenes by a distinctly washed out look to black colours as well as some pretty serious backlight inconsistencies. These cloudy areas even look to take on slightly different colours, with some adopting a greenish tone and some looking more blue. Not good.
Fortunately, both the Cinema and Normal modes look much better in terms of the depth of black colour they deliver, and their relative freedom from backlight inconsistency. This is down to the fact that unlike the True Cinema mode, the Cinema and Normal modes both use a dynamic contrast system, where the TV automatically adjusts the image's brightness level to best suit the darkness of the source content.
Panasonic TX-L55ET5 Brightness
There is, though, a catch to this, namely that the dynamic luminance adjustment isn't quite subtle or fast enough, meaning that you can sometimes clearly see when the TV decides to make one of its light output ‘jumps’.
To be clear, the sort of problems we're talking about here won't trouble you during most of your viewing. But they certainly leapt out at us at least a handful of times while watching a selection of films, so we have to mention them. The dark scene issues also made us reflect that Panasonic would have been well advised to provide more flexibility over its pictures, such as a backlight adjustment and the facility to manually tweak the aggressiveness of the dynamic contrast system.
The Panasonic TX-L55ET5's audio quality is solid. The unusually large and heavy bodywork proves helpful in allowing the set to go loud without sounding distorted or succumbing to cabinet rattles. Dialogue remains clear over action scenes, and there's a good sense of treble detail in the mix. Bass is a bit constrained, but at least there's a sense of it actually existing, which is actually a fair result by flat TV standards.
Panasonic TX-L55ET5 Verdict
Despite falling prey to what we've come to know as the 'Sony HX853' effect, whereby the quality of Sony's latest flagship TVs has lead to us being more critical of other TVs’ handling of dark scenes, the Panasonic TX-L55ET5 ultimately impresses. Its pictures are bright, colourful, straightforward and, with the majority of sources, sharp and detailed. Its relaxing passive 3D approach with four sets of free glasses is well suited to a typical family environment too, with its large 55-inch screen also proving helpful in making 3D more engaging.
Its multimedia abilities are fairly if not exhaustively strong too, and finally £1,350 seems a pretty fair price to pay for such a solid and large all-rounder.