In most other ways that matter, though, the Panasonic L55WT65 is an excellent picture performer. Particularly notable is its handling of motion, as every type of movement – vertical, horizontal, fast, slow, small and large – all looks remarkably assured with absolutely minimal resolution loss and smearing. What’s more, motion still looks clean and natural even if you don’t bother with the Intelligent Frame Creation processing (which actually we wouldn’t bother with, at least while watching Blu-ray movies).
Pictures are intensely sharp and detailed too, thanks to the set’s combination of motion clarity, a naturally deft touch at recapturing every pixel of detail in HD sources, and some really deft colour handling that ensures every tiny tonal shift is rendered with precision.
Colour tones are bold and vibrant too, yet they’re accurate, believable and balanced even in their out of the box state. Though there’s always a little further improvement to be eked out if you’re willing to brave the calibration menus.
Add all these strengths to a considerably wider effective viewing angle than usual for LCD; some exceptionally intelligent handling of noise (with or without the noise reduction circuitry in play); and an extremely contrast-rich, dynamic-looking image while watching typical (as opposed to very dark) footage, and for much of the time you’re looking at 2D images that really live up to the L55WT65’s flagship status.
The set is a potent 3D performer too. It delivers a profound and accurate sense of depth, while the quality of its motion and colour handling does a barnstorming job of hiding the slight loss of resolution you get with the passive (as opposed to active) 3D format.
Also helping the sense of sharpness is the screen’s pretty much total freedom from 3D crosstalk noise (so long as your vertical viewing angle doesn’t get above 13 degrees or so), and this being a passive set you also don’t have to worry about any flickering or substantial colour/brightness reductions.
If you run the Panaosnic L55WT65 against one of Samsung’s latest top-end 3D TVs, you do notice some horizontal line structure and jagged edges in the Panasonic’s 3D picture, as well as a slight shortage of fine detail with highly textured 3D Blu-ray sequences.
But for many the relative comfort, convenience and affordability (given that you get four pairs of 3D glasses included free with the TV) of the L55WT65’s passive 3D will trump the minor resolution issues and occasional rough edge.
The Panasonic L55WT65 is a potentially very strong – if mightily expensive – video gaming monitor, with its bold colours, punchy contrast and strong motion handling. So it’s a bit of a disappointment to find it measuring an above average input lag figure of in excess of 60ms even after making sure as much picture processing as possible was turned off.
Joining the L55WT65’s nearly great pictures is a fair to middling audio performance. The main problem is a rather uninspiring amount of bass, which means the soundstage can sound a little thin and treble-heavy when under duress. It can get pretty loud without distorting, though, and normal TV footage sounds clean and reasonably open.
If looks are important to you, then you simply can’t ignore the Panasonic L55WT65. Its extraordinary slender design and largely transparent stand combine to make it arguably the most attractive TV of the year so far. However, fans of video streaming services will find more options on most rival online TV platforms, and serious film fans will struggle with the difficulties the set has presenting dark scenes with total conviction.
But its the competition that really does for the Panasonic L55WT65. If you're planning to spend this much on a 55-inch LCD TV, it's hard to look past the Sony Bravia KDL-55W905A or the Samsung UE55F8000 - two TVs that are so good it's hard to separate them at all. In this company the Panasonic looks a little ordinary, or at least its pictures do.
And if you don't mind buying a slightly smaller plasma TV, the Panasonic TX-P50VT65 is nearly £1,000 less and an absolute gem to boot.
The Panasonic L55WT65 delivers a palpable step up in picture quality over the Panasonic L55DT65, especially where its handling of motion is concerned. In fact, its pictures frequently look spectacular. However, there are enough unwanted distractions on show during dark scenes to mean that we can’t quite give a TV as expensive as the L55WT65 a Recommended badge given the outstanding company it’s keeping this year.