Panasonic has got very savvy in recent years when it comes to providing you with lots of options for tweaking the way its TV pictures look, so it’s no surprise to find the L55WT50 offering such delights as colour management, gamma control, and lots of fine-tuning for its various picture processing elements – including Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) motion blur/judder reduction engine.
Double the fun
While on the subject of picture processing, it’s important to stress that the L55WT50 is powered by a dual-core processor, which should improve the speed and accuracy of its picture calculations. This processor also allows the L55WT50 to offer multi-tasking, whereby you can have open and switch quickly between as many as six different apps and online services. This might not sound much on paper, but in practice such multitasking has a pretty large impact on how often and how extensively you use the set’s multimedia features.
Something else we also found ourselves using a lot during our tests was the Viera TV control app for Android and Apple phones and tablets. This proves a fine way to handle web browsing and navigation and also, rather brilliantly, lets you ‘throw’ video content from your tablet to the TV or vice versa. For a full investigation of this revolutionary new control interface, check out our full review.
Much less brilliant is the second, touchpad-sporting remote control Panasonic ships with its WT50 TVs. The touchpad area is too small, and its round shape doesn’t tally logically with the shape of the screen you’re trying to navigate. Having to tap it to select an option feels weird and doesn’t work very well either. So let’s put that to one side and move swiftly on to the L55WT50’s pictures.
Which are at times outstanding. It was England/West Indies Test Match time when we tested this TV, and given how many hours we watched this for (!), it was great to see the screen serving up a scintillating combination with Sky’s HD feeds of high brightness, extremely dynamic colours, and very high levels of sharpness and detail.
Big is beautiful
Seeing all this writ as large as 55in did a great job of making us feel like we were at sun-drenched Trent Bridge rather than in fact being tucked away in our perpetually darkened test room.
The motion of the players and ball was well handled too, with minimal blur and no judder provided you handle the IFC system with care, not running it on its highest settings. The ball occasionally ghosted in and out a little as it raced off to the boundary, but overall the benefits of the processing outweighed the negatives.
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While HD cricket is actually a fine demonstrator of many of a TV’s picture attributes, though, it doesn’t do much to further our understanding of black level abilities. Our flavour of the month right now for testing black levels is the final Harry Potter film, and actually some of the most taxing sequences in this extremely dark film did catch the L55WT50 out a bit.
This is a bit surprising, actually. Not necessarily because the L55WT50 is Panasonic’s flagship LCD TV; we’ve seen plenty of other supposedly fancy LCD TVs come a cropper while trying to show dark scenes convincingly too. But the L55WT50’s smaller sibling, the L42WT50, has already mostly impressed us with its dark scene handling, so we’d hoped for the same level of competency from this 55in model.