Review: Panasonic Viera TX-L47WT50B, High-End LCD TV

 
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Published: December 31, 2012 11:00 AM
By Pierre-Jean Alzieu
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
The WT50B, Panasonic's flagship LCD TV, is practically a carbon copy of the DT50, which we tested earlier this year. All that's changed are the design and remote control. It boasts Edge LED backlighting, 1600 Hz motion interpolation (effective refresh rate: 200 Hz), 3D compatibility (two pairs of 3D glasses included), online services (Viera Connect), PVR-Ready and a media player (DLNA and USB).

The WT50B comes in three sizes: 42" (TX-L42WT50B), 47" (reviewed here) and 55" (TX-L55WT50B).

2D Image Quality3/5



WT50 dalle

A subpixel's shape doesn't lie. The WT50B's screen is made from an Alpha-IPS panel straight from Panasonic's own factories.

WT50 contraste film
Left: the WT50B (contrast = 900:1). Right: Sony Bravia KDL-32CX520 (contrast = 2000:1).
We set both TVs to 140 cd/m² in the whites before taking these photos.

With whites at 200 cd/m², the WT50B is very similar to the DT50. And like the DT50, the WT50B has been given a firmware update to make the colours more accurate. Its contrast ratio is also below average at 860:1, whereas 2000:1 is closer to what you would expect. The end result is blacks that look closer to grey. This is quite disappointing coming from a TV that's supposed to be a flagship model!

IPS isn't known for high contrast, but it does have the advantage of providing a bit wider viewing angles than LCD screens. With 28% variation in the brightness along the edges, this IPS-Alpha panel gets 3/5 stars in our rating system, whereas most we review get less than 2/5.

It's also one of the most responsive panels we've seen (7.5 ms). And there's good news for you gamers out there, because once you've deactivated all the so-called image enhancement functions, such as Intelligent Frame Creation, the input lag varies between just 0 and 33 ms.

With the default settings the motion interpolation is a bit over-the-top. To reduce the 'camcorder' feel, switch the Intelligent Frame Creation from maximum to minimum.

Clouding5/5



WT50 clouding

The uniformity is perfect. No clouding is visible on this TV.

Picture Quality5/5



Panasonic includes two pairs of 3D glasses in the box. They're comfortable and can be worn on top of ordinary eyeglasses. But if you want more than two, they're a little expensive (around £65, whereas the competition offers models for £25).

The panel's responsiveness is a real advantage when you watch 3D. There's almost no crosstalk (that's when you see two overlapping 2D images instead of one 3D image). In fact, it's nearly as good as Panasonic's plasma TVs.

Here's what it looks like as seen through the 3D glasses, compared with a few other TVs, with the Philips 40PFL5507H at the top-right:

Panasonic wt50 3D TV L P
Panasonic wt50 3D TV R P

 In a perfect 3D image, you would see no traces of the 'R' on the 'L' frame, and vice versa.
Panasonic and Samsung's plasmas are the only TVs that do this correctly.

Of course, there's the 2D-to-3D conversion function, which is just as unsatisfactory as ever. All it really does is add a slight sensation of depth. It's neat for about five minutes, but it's no replacement for real 3D content.

Design4/5


While it's easy to find things to complain about with the contrast, the design is a different story. The metal body is perfectly assembled. The only thing might be slightly large stand, but if you hang the TV on the wall that no longer becomes an issue.

WT50 telecommande

Unlike the DT50, the WT50B comes with two remote controls. The first is a classic, backlit remote. The backlighting comes in handy when you're watching movies in the dark. The second is more compact and oval-shaped. It has as few buttons as possible (nine) and a touchpad that enables you navigate more easily through the menus and online services. It's a handy little device, although we prefer LG's Wii Remote-type control.

WT50 viera connect

Once you connect the TV via Ethernet or the built-in Wi-Fi, the WT50B offers Panasonic's Viera Connect services, which include a large selection of high quality apps. In addition to the classics—YouTube (including HD), Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps—you get Gameloft video games, although be aware that each games costs around £5!

The media player is better than last year's, having gained support for a wider range of video file formats. It recognises NTFS (Windows) external devices, which means it can read files over 4 GB in size, which FAT 32 won't do. In fact, it will read most video formats: AVI, DivX, MP4, MKV, MOV, MTS and M2TS. The only thing missing is ISO (disk image) files, and DVD and Blu-ray menus are still problematic.

Audio3/5



Panasonic wt50 audio

Green = good / Orange = tolerable / White = too heavily altered

Like the DT50, the WT50B has two 4-watt speakers and one 10-watt woofer. In theory, the woofer is supposed to transmit the lowest frequencies (under 50 Hz)—in other words, the bass. But nope! The two 4-watt speakers are so small that the woofer ends up practically doing all the work for them, delivering what sounds closer to mono sound than stereo. Add to that low volume and a lack of balance that reduces intelligibility. We recommend buying a sound bar or home cinema kit separately to go with the WT50B.

Power Use5/5



Similar to the DT50, and most Edge LED TVs, the WT50B doesn't consume much power. We measured 1 W on standby and just 78 W when turned on, which at 47" makes for 128 W/m².
3/5 Panasonic Viera TX-L47WT50B DigitalVersus 2012-12-31 12:00:00

Pros

  • Good 3D rendering and little crosstalk
  • Effective motion interpolation
  • Media play supports most file formats
  • Backlit remote control

Cons

  • Low contrast (860:1)
  • Inaccurate colours on pre-release model

Conclusion

The Panasonic WT50B's image quality is identical to the DT50. All that's changed is the design and accessories. The IPS panel is highly responsive, but the contrast is just too low.

OUR SCORE 3/5
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