Review: Panasonic ET60: LCD TV with Passive 3D

Our score: 2/5
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March 25, 2013 9:05 AM
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Published: March 25, 2013 9:00 AM
By Pierre-Jean Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
The ET60 is the first of Panasonic's 2013 LCD TVs to arrive in our test lab. Like all of the range, it uses Edge LED backlighting, which means the backlights are arranged around the edges of the screen panel rather than across its whole surface. The ET60 comes with various functions, including smart TV services, 600 Hz Intelligent Frame Creation (actual screen refresh rate 200 Hz) and a passive 3D mode with two pair of glasses included. The switch from active-shutter 3D in 2012's LCD TV range to passive technology for 2013 has forced Panasonic to change its screen panel supplier. And so the ET60 gets an LG-made IPS panel. Read on to find out what that means for this Panasonic TV.

We tested the 47" model, but the ET60 is also available in 42" (109 cm, TX-L42ET60), 50" (127 cm, TX-L50ET60) and 55" (140 cm, TX-L55ET60) versions.

2D Image Quality3/5



Panasonic ET60 TV review - subpixels

The chevron-shaped subpixels show that this TV's screen panel is made by LG. There's no doubt about that.

Panasonic ET60 TV review - contrast
Left: Panasonic ET60 (1000:1) // Right: Sony Bravia KDL-32CX520 (2000:1)

The ET60 displays typical behaviour for an IPS-based TV.
  • The black is washed-out (0.19 cd/m²) with contrast measured at just over 1060:1 (with the white at 200 cd/m²). That won't be too noticeable in strong daylight, but the black will look faded when watching TV with the lights down low. In line with our updated minimum contrast criteria, this TV therefore can't score any more than three stars in this review. Not a good start.

  • The ghosting time is above average, measured here at 12 ms whereas the most responsive LCD TVs usually push down under 8 ms.
Thankfully, the ET60 does a better job with onscreen image quality. Colours are displayed accurately with an average Delta E of 3. Delta E measures the difference between "perfect" colours and those displayed onscreen. The Delta E should be as close as possible to zero, and colours can be considered "accurate" with a score of 3 or less. The grey scale is handled well too, even if it is a little too light and a little too blue (average gamma = 2, colour temperature = 7000 K).

Panasonic has loaded this TV with a special Games mode that cuts out all the image enhancement functions in order to display onscreen images as quickly as possible. In spite of that, we still measured an average input lag of 43 ms, which makes for 2.5 frames of latency compared with a CRT screen. That's better than Panasonic's ST60 2013 plasma TV, but it's still too high.

Finally, Panasonic's IFC motion compensation system is effective, considerably reducing judder without affecting image quality.

Clouding3/5



Panasonic ET60 TV review - clouding

Although low contrast levels usually mean little or no clouding, this isn't the case with the ET60. It's immediately obvious that manufacturers are now placing their Edge LED backlights at only one side of the display (the left-hand side in this Panasonic TV) instead of around all four edges of the screen panel. Here, we measured the depth of black at 0.25 cd/m² compared with 0.19 cd/m² in parts of the screen where there's no clouding. In other words, the black gets 30% lighter in the screen's cloudy patches. To reduce these blotchy leaks that play havoc with the black level, it would no doubt have been wiser to use a greater number of lower-powered LEDs around all the screen's edges.

Picture Quality4/5



Panasonic supplies two pairs of 3D glasses with this TV. These passive 3D glasses are lighter, more comfortable and cheaper than active-shutter glasses as they have no built-in electronics.

Panasonic ET60 TV review - 3d mode, resolution
Image as seen through 3D glasses. Left: Panasonic TX-L47ET60 // Right: a TV with an active shutter 3D mode

Seeing as this TV uses passive 3D, the overall resolution is effectively halved in 3D mode, as the 1920 x 1080-pixel image is split into two 1920 x 540-pixel images—one for each eye. That's equivalent to good old 720p (see above for a comparison in quality).

As with other passive 3D TVs, levels of crosstalk (images for the left and right eyes overlapping onto one another) are very low. Plus, you hardly lose any overall brightness with passive 3D glasses, making viewing conditions more comfortable than with active-shutter equivalents. With all these advantages, you'll no doubt soon forget about the drop in resolution!

Here's what our test images look like through the 3D glasses (Top: Panasonic TX-L47ET60 // Bottom: LG 47LM660S):

Panasonic ET60 TV review - 3D mode
Panasonic ET60 TV review - 3D mode, crosstalk

 In a perfect 3D image, there would be no traces of the 'R' frame on the 'L' frame, and vice versa.

Passive 3D does, however, make for relatively tight screen viewing angles. To enjoy the best possible picture quality when watching 3D content, you'll need to make sure that you're sitting facing the TV screen directly. If you happen to get up, you'll soon start seeing crosstalk.

Design4/5



Design-wise, the ET60 is based on 2012's DT50. It therefore has a metal bezel with transparent plastic edging. It looks subtle but stylish and has an excellent-quality finish.

Panasonic ET60 TV review - front Panasonic ET60 TV review - stand Panasonic ET60 TV review - bezel Panasonic ET60 TV review - side Panasonic ET60 TV review - connections

As with other LCD TVs in Panasonic's 2013 range, it's a shame to see that there's no fourth HDMI port. Otherwise, the ET60 has two USB ports, a SCART socket, a shared component/composite connection, an Ethernet port, an optical output, a headphones jack, as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and DLNA support.

Panasonic ET60 TV review - remote control

The remote control has had a bit of a make-over this year. The buttons are no longer backlit and the arrows have been turned back into standard buttons. You may also find that you end up hitting the "Home" key by accident. The nice chunky buttons are still a strong point, though.

The TV's graphic interface has been redesigned, making it a whole lot more interesting. For example, you can now create custom pages to organise all your favourite applications. That can be handy for families looking to group apps and content for the TV's various users.

The ST50's media player is compatible with most video container formats, including AVI, DivX, MP4, MKV, Mov, MTS and M2TS. Only ISO files (disc images) and DVD/Blu-ray menus aren't supported. Note too that this TV supports FLAC audio files, which isn't often the case.

Audio2/5



Panasonic ET60 TV review - audio

Over the last two years more and more manufacturers have been loading their TVs with two speakers and a "subwoofer". That may look great on paper, but unfortunately audio quality can still leave a lot to be desired. To save space in the TV casing or to cut costs (or both), TV-makers generally use tweeters that are too small. With the ET60, Panasonic has used 2 x 4 W speakers, and it's no surprise to find that output quality isn't amazing. High frequencies saturate as soon as you get to higher volume settings and bass/mid frequencies are too heavily present.

You'll get a much better result with a decent home cinema speaker set or a sound bar.

Power Use5/5



The ET60 gets a top score in this part of our review. On standby, we measured power use at less than 1 watt. When switched on, it draws 61 watts (which makes for 101 W/m² for this 47" screen). Power use doesn't get much lower than that!
2/5 Panasonic TX-L47ET60 DigitalVersus 2013-03-25 10:00:00

Pros

  • Good 3D picture quality, low levels of crosstalk
  • Accurate onscreen colours (Delta E = 3)
  • Effective motion interpolation mode (IFC)
  • Built-in media player supports loads of file formats

Cons

  • Low contrast (1000:1)
  • Washed out black (0.19 cd/m²)
  • Audio quality isn't great
  • Clouding in the model we tested

Conclusion

Like the majority of IPS-based passive 3D TVs, Panasonic's ET60 generally does a decent job. The onscreen image is rendered accurately and the 3D mode is good. However, the screen response time and contrast are both too low. The model we tested also had problems with clouding, as there are clearly too few LED backlights. This TV therefore loses its third star.

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