Panasonic debuts its first passive 3D LCD

Panasonic will release its first large-screen, passive 3D screens in 2012 in the ET5 which also includes an upgraded smart TV system.

We don't have an image of the Panasonic ET5 series TV yet, so here's a graphic illustration of the number of passive 3D glasses included in the box. We'll update when we can. Sarah Tew/CNET

While its main TV business will involve plasma for some years to come, Panasonic has courted LCD TVs for a while but 2012 sees a number of firsts for the Japanese company: namely large screens and passive 3D.

In the past, Panasonic has chosen to fill in its under-42-inch lineup with LCDs but this year it's basically saying "what the hell" and producing LEDs up to 55-inches. The ET5 series sees the company continue the good work of previous years with LED-backlit IPS panels, said to enjoy a wider off-axis than some other LCD designs.

The other big surprise is passive 3D, which is essentially an LG technology; Panasonic was one of the first companies to embrace and champion active technology. One of the biggest failings with active TVs is the cost of ownership: active glasses cost a lot! Panasonic's passive TV reduces the sting in the tail here by including four pairs of glasses in the box.

The ET5 is a smart TV and includes onboard wi-fi, a browser, and Panasonic's new "cloud-based" Viera Connect system. Love tweeting from your TV? Anyone? At all? Well, the TV now has that onboard too.

The TV sits in the middle of the new LED range, but it still has a number of good features including four HDMI ports, a 360Hz refresh rate (we assume from some combination of 120Hz and a scanning backlight) and two USB ports.

Panasonic TC-LET5 series features:

  • LCD LED TV
  • Passive 3D
  • Four glasses included
  • 360Hz refresh rate
  • Cloud-based Viera Connect Internet suite
  • Web browser
  • Built-in Wi-Fi

Panasonic TC-LET5 series models:

  • TC-L42ET5, 42-inch, price and availability TBD
  • TC-L47ET5, 47-inch, price and availability TBD
  • TC-L65ET5, 55-inch, price and availability TBD

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