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Panasonic TX-L42WT50B review

Plasma is no longer Panasonic's only TV fruit

Our Verdict

For

  • Mostly excellent picture
  • Great online features
  • Multitasking works well
  • Sumptuous design

Against

  • A bit expensive
  • So-so black levels
  • Trackpad remote isn't great
  • Average sound

It's fair to say that not all of Panasonic's recent flagship TVs have really looked like flagship TVs. In fact, they've generally looked a bit dated. This is not, however, an accusation you could level at the Panasonic TX-L42WT50.

Panasonic has completely revamped its aesthetics, combining a new 'Glass & Metal' design ethos with a super-slim bezel and trim backside that finally enables this venerable Japanese brand to go toe to toe in design terms with the most glamorous offerings from the two big Korean AV brands.

The Panasonic TX-L42WT50 has all the connections that matter too, despite its diminished rear end. Finding four v1.4 HDMIs for 3D and HD digital playback is no less than we would expect of a flagship TV in 2012. But it's certainly good to find Panasonic also more than acknowledging the importance of multimedia in today's world by providing three USBs, an SD slot and integrated Wi-Fi for multimedia playback.

The Wi-Fi support runs to both streaming from DLNA PCs and going online with Panasonic's Viera Connect online service, while the USB and SD card slots also permit you to record to suitably formatted devices from the built-in Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners.

Panasonic TX-L42WT50B review

The Panasonic TX-L42WT50 even carries built-in Bluetooth. This can't be used for streaming files from Bluetooth devices, but it can be used for 'attaching' Bluetooth keyboards or external Bluetooth speakers.

As with a growing number of TVs this year, the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 ships with two remote controls: a typical button-laden one, and a smaller, more spartan affair that features a trackpad at its top for supposedly enhanced navigation of web pages. More on this new remote later, in the Usability section of this review.

You can also control the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 via your Android or iOS device courtesy of a new Viera Control app - an app that additionally and rather brilliantly enables you to throw content from your TV to your portable device and vice-versa.

Other notable accessories contained in the Panasonic TX-L42WT50's box are two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses. The Panasonic TX-L42WT50 is far from the only TV in Panasonic's 2012 LCD TV range to sport active 3D playback, but the WT50 series is the only one that gets any glasses included free.

Panasonic TX-L42WT50B review

Needless to say, the inclusion of these glasses increases the likelihood of purchasers of the set actually using its 3D capabilities - and makes its somewhat steep £2,195 (around $3,460) price tag slightly easier to swallow.

As you would expect given how slender it is, the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 uses Edge LED lighting. And this lighting features local dimming driven by the Smart Viera Engine Pro video processing system reserved exclusively for the dual-core WT50 series.

The screen also boasts an inevitable Full HD resolution, and an unprecedentedly high 1600Hz backlight scanning system for, hopefully, Panasonic's most accomplished LCD motion performance to date. The 1600Hz figure is derived, for those of you interested in such technicalities, by combining a native 200Hz panel design with an 8x-per-frame blinking backlight.

With a bit of luck, the Panasonic TX-L42WT50's motion processing power should aid it in reproducing 3D without judder or crosstalk noise. Mind you, come to think of it, Panasonic's top-end LCD TVs last year were impressively crosstalk-free even without such high-falutin' picture processing power.

Viera Connect

As with the majority of Panasonic TVs this year, the L42WT50 gets the latest incarnation of the Viera Connect online platform. This has now become a very satisfying online experience for the most part, combining a solid (though certainly still improvable) content level with a well-developed and presented online market for adding apps and even hardware accessories to your TV experience.

The Panasonic TX-L42WT50 also deserves kudos for the multitasking feature made possible by the dual-core processing. This enables you to have up to six different apps running at once, with you being able to flick more or less instantly between them via a couple of presses of the remote control.

This makes the set's multimedia features feel more fully integrated into the Panasonic TX-L42WT50's overall experience, and certainly makes the TV much easier to get the most out of.

The key online services currently look like this: Netflix, AceTrax, BBC iPlayer, Skype (with an optional extra camera), YouTube, EuroSport, BBC News, Fetch TV, Twitter, Facebook, Euronews, CNBC Real Time, DailyMotion, Aupeo internet radio, iConcerts, Viewster, Vimeo and Picasa. There's also Indian cinema service BIGFlix VOD, Break Comedy, UStream TV, Red Karaoke and MLB.tv baseball.

Plus a Withings app enables Wi-Fi scales to communicate your weight to the TV so it can chart your weight loss and BMI, while an iFit Live app enables you to connect iLive fitness devices - such as an upcoming Viera treadmill - and run them in conjunction with Viera Connect features such as Google Earth.

And finally there are some genuinely impressive games, courtesy of Gameloft. Asphalt 5 and Let's Golf 2 in particular provide a near console-like experience with their graphics and gameplay that you don't currently get on any other brands' online TV platform.

As with all online TV systems, moreover, there's more Viera Connect content on the way, with Disney Books and MySpace services already signed up. Hopefully LoveFilm might get on there at some point too, although we haven't received any firm information to this effect.

Tech Specs

Product TypeLED-LCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-T (MPEG4), DVB-S2
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports4
Product FamilyViera WT50
3D Type3D
EU Energy LabelA+
Smart TVYes
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size106.7 cm (42")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle178°
Vertical Viewing Angle178°
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH
Memory Card ReaderYes
BluetoothYes
EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Analog TunerPAL
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)13.50 kg
Backlight TechnologyLED
Operating Power Consumption119 W
Standby Power Consumption200 mW
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
VGAYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand647 mm
Width with Stand956 mm
Depth with Stand312 mm
CI+Yes
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Number of USB Ports3
3D TechnologyShutter
3D ConversionYes
Energy Consumption per Year78 kWh
PC StreamingYes
Internet AccessYes
Media PlayerYes
3D Glasses RequiredYes
Enhanced Refresh Rate1.60 kHz
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD), Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Height569 mm
Width956 mm
Depth27 mm
ColourBlack
Sound SystemVirtual Surround, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pulse, DTS
Product SeriesWT50
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesTeletext, Web Browser, In-plane Switching (IPS) Technology, Picture in Picture, Picture and Text (PAT), Picture and Picture (PAP)
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelTX-L42WT50B
Product NameTX-L42WT50B 42" Smart Viera LED TV
Product LineViera
Manufacturer Part NumberTX-L42WT50B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

42" Smart VIERA LED TV - State-of-the-Art Design, Full HD 3D Neo Black LED Panel and Wi-Fi Built-in (Energy Efficiency Class A+)

The display alternately shows images for the left and right eyes. The left and right lenses of the eyewear open and close in sync with this display timing to show separate images to the left and right eyes. By repeating this action at high speed, the brain perceives 3D images. And because this method displays FULL HD 3D images just as they are, both eyes receive 3D images in high, full-HD quality.

In addition to increasing the generated frames from 50 to 200 frames per second, backlight control has evolved through area splitting. The backlight's fine blinking reduces afterimages, to produce smooth, fast movements without blurring. Sports scenes, action scenes and other fast-motion images are crisp and clear.

Package Contents
  • TX-L42WT50B 42" Smart Viera LED TV
  • 2 x 3D Glasses
  • Remote Control
SpeakersYes
Limited Warranty5 Year
Weight (Approximate)11 kg