Panasonic mastered the art of making HDTVs with impressive specs across a various price points. But the competition isn’t sitting still as any company can simply regain the crown by coming up with something a bit more innovative while offering a very attractive price. As usual, consumers win in the end because the release of the Panasonic TC-L50ET60 shows that Panasonic still intends to make great products not only in the high-end but midrange as well. Priced at $1399, the TC-L50ET60 isn’t exactly the most affordable 50-inch TV on the block but it is definitely more affordable than many of the slightly larger and more common 55-inch TVs. This TV may very well be the perfect model for a lot of people that find 42-inch TVs a bit too small and find premium models like the TC-L55DT60 and TC-L47WT60 too expensive.
Panasonic has stepped up in the design department but Panasonic’s fresh new designs are reserved for the high-end WT60 and DT60 models. Fortunately, the Panasonic TC-L50ET60 is still not a bad looking TV. The bezel is pretty noticeable but it is still pretty thin and is silver in color which could help match the TV with its surroundings. The stand has that color as well and it is solidly built although it doesn’t swivel.
The TC-L50ET60 only features 3 HDMI ports on the side which is a bit lacking compared to most other large screen TVs that normally offer 4 HDMI ports. 2 USB ports, an SD card slot and a digital audio output can also be found there. Other connection ports include the usual component and composite ports and Ethernet port for network connectivity. Because these ports face downwards, it is possible to push the Panasonic TC-L50ET60 closer to the wall without the wires getting in the way.
IPS or In Plane Switching technology can do wonders on a TV and the TC-L50ET60 is one of the most affordable models that has this technology. This panel is responsible for the TV’s amazing viewing angles so you can expect to get a clear picture without tinting even if you are watching from an odd angle. This edge-lit LED display also has an anti-glare coating to make the display visible even in a bright area. This combination of features results to sharp image detail and even very deep blacks. You can also customize the viewing experience by choosing one of the 5 picture presets. These presets set values for the brightness, contrast, backlight, tint, sharpness and color levels. Of course, you can customize these values to your liking as well. Other neat features include the contrast automatic tracking system which lets the TV define the brightness based on the ambient lighting. There is also a Motion Picture setting which can help motion blur.
But even without the motion blur reduction, the Panasonic TC-L50ET60 still does a decent job in delivering smooth motion video. The TC-L50ET60 happens to be Panasonic’s cheapest 50-inch model that comes with the backlight scanning technology. Panasonic calls it 720 BLS and it has a 120 Hz refresh rate.
The Panasonic TC-L50ET60 is also the model to get if you want a 50-inch Panasonic TV without breaking the bank. The 3D technology is passive so you can expect some crosstalk on some viewing angles but other than that, the effect is there and it doesn’t sacrifice image sharpness. Although the future of 3D is up in the air, it is nice to have this feature considering the wide variety of good 3D movie and 3D game titles available.
With VIERA Connect, the TC-L50ET60 can access various online services including Hulu Plus, CinemaNow, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and YouTube. Like many other TVs with smart TV functionality, it is also possible to check your Facebook or Twitter account or chat on Skype if you decide to purchase the Skype camera separately. You have the option to conveniently connect through Wi-Fi or enjoy faster local network speeds through the Ethernet port. Ethernet might be worth considering since computers in the same network can make their content available for streaming.
The My Home Screen serves as the frontend for the VIERA Connect experience and it is nice since you can customize the icons, widget placement and even the wallpaper. The remote control can also give you direct access to Netflix or a selection of all the other apps present on the TV. You can also use the Web browser to check out any other favorite sites including the ones coded in HTML5. Because of the lack of dual core processing, the performance can be a bit sluggish at times.
The Panasonic TC-L50ET60 also doesn’t come with a touch pad remote control like the higher models. Working with TV apps using the standard remote control is a bit cumbersome but it isn’t really a huge loss since the TC-L50ET60 maintains its support for any smartphones or tablets (iOS and Android devices) that can run the VIERA Remote 2 app. This app presents its own touch-friendly interface on the mobile device where you can directly alter settings or launch apps. It also has this cool feature called Swipe and Share 2.0 which lets you swipe images and other media directly to the TV.
Because the Panasonic TC-L50ET60 is an LED TV and not a plasma display, you can expect better energy efficiency to cut down on electricity costs. The TC-L50ET60 is Energy Star certified and it has this cool Eco mode that brings the power consumption below 80 watts.
The Panasonic TC-L50ET60 is living proof that you don’t have to buy the most premium TV on the block if you want top-notch image quality. Panasonic’s flagship models have enhanced technologies but a lot of viewers may not really recognize the difference. On top of that, the TC-L50ET60 is a great gateway model to consider if you want a lot of nice extra features at a fairly low price. Even just a slight step down to a cheaper model like the TC-L50E60 would take away the 3D technology, IPS display and SD card slot. The Panasonic TC-L50ET60 is a highly capable midrange 50-inch display that should impress the masses.
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