The L47WT65 is that most frustrating of TVs: a set that delivers superbly in almost all departments, but is ultimately let down by one single irritating flaw.
Getting the bad news out of the way first, the flaw concerns Panasonic’s struggles to control its edge LED lighting as subtly as we’d like. The thing is, whenever a predominantly dark image contains a bright area – especially if the bright area is in any way central on the screen – you can clearly see the edge-based lighting pumping out extra brightness across the whole image, reducing the black level response of the dark areas.
As well as reducing the overall sense of contrast, if the light content in a predominantly dark image happens to be moving then you can be distracted by constant adjustments in the intensity of the extra brightness ‘curtain’ that spreads across the screen.
You can localise the light ‘pollution’ to a degree by using the Brilliance Enhancer local dimming feature, though actually we’d argue that this just draws more attention to the lighting issue than having it effect the screen as a whole.
To be clear, we’re not saying the L47WT65 can’t do a good black level. Actually with the right image content it can – by which we mean that dark scenes can look extremely impressive and realistic when there’s no very bright content to upset the edge lighting balance. In this respect the L47WT65 performs considerably better than its 55-inch sibling, which didn’t impress us with its black level response at all.
There’s even a good amount of shadow detail to be seen in dark scenes on the L47WT65 if you’re a bit careful with the gamma and backlight balance. We should stress in the L47WT65’s defence, too, that the light pollution issue isn’t nearly as obvious or aggressive as it was on the larger L55WT65 – presumably because the light coming from the TV’s sides isn’t having to travel as far.
As noted earlier, the Panasonic L47WT65 really delivers the goods elsewhere. Its colours, for instance, are sumptuous, combining exceptional vibrancy with an extreme range of tones that ensures the colour punch never looks one-dimensional or cartoony.
Also rather lovely is the L47WT65’s handling of detail. HD images look effortlessly sharp and detailed, with no sign of any forced edging or excessive dot crawl noise but all sorts of evidence of the sort of subtle textures that make HD so beloved of AV fans everywhere.
The image’s clarity holds up impressively well during action scenes, too. The panel’s native response time seems very solid, and Panasonic’s motion processing is very effective in the way it removes judder and blur without causing the image to look treacly or troubled by haloes around moving objects. So long as you don’t venture above the IFC’s Min setting anyway.
The L47WT65’s motion processing is even astute enough to handle film grain naturally, and that’s very rare indeed.
Add to all this some of the best standard def upscaling we’ve seen, and it’s clear that Panasonic is painfully close to being able to deliver a truly outstanding LCD TV. If it could only improve its control over its edge LED lighting.