This year, Panasonic has extended its size range of LED models up to 55 inches, where previously they topped out at 37 inches. That means you can now opt for an LED over a plasma if you're after a large display with the benefits of a slim design, narrow bezel and oodles of brightness.
Among Panasonic's mid-range Viera sets, the 47-inch TX-L47ET50B is the largest screen on offer. It's quite pricey though, setting you back around £1,200 -- and you'll have to pay for active 3D glasses on top of that because they're not included as standard. So is it worth the investment?
User interface and EPG
Unfortunately, little has changed on the menu of this TV compared with Panasonic's older models. Next to the flash graphics, colourful icons and smooth animations you get on the latest LG and Samsung TVs, Panasonic's menu system looks archaic. It relies mostly on flat-looking menus that make only the bare minimum use of graphics.
That said, the simplistic nature of the menus does mean they're relatively easy to use, with most of the important stuff accessed via the main menu. Here you'll find the picture, sound and set-up controls.
One annoyance with the picture menu is that the contrast slider changes both the contrast level and the intensity of the backlight. Many other manufacturers split these two settings to give you greater control over the picture.
Nevertheless, Panasonic's picture presets are generally better than those found on many other TVs, with the Cinema and True Cinema modes in particular delivering very good results from movies on Blu-ray.
The electronic programme guide (EPG) has been improved slightly over last year's Panasonics. The biggest change is the removal of web-style adverts that gobbled up valuable screen space. You can also swap between three views, choosing either to have the EPG showing more channels at any one time, or to display fewer, while featuring an info box about the show you've selected. When you call up the EPG, you don't get to continue seeing the channel you were watching as there's no video thumbnail window.
Design and connections
Panasonic has improved the design of its latest TVs. The TX-L47ET50B is much more of a looker than last year's models. The chassis is very slim, measuring just 36mm deep, and the screen is framed by a narrow silver bezel that blends into a transparent perspex lip. It's not quite as sexy as the almost invisible bezel on the, but it still looks very smart. I also like the angular brushed aluminium stand that adds to the set's premium feel.
Like most of today's slimline models, this one doesn't have full-sized Scart or component inputs. Instead, there are mini-jack sockets for these inputs on the downward-facing rear connections panel. You use these with the supplied break-out cables to connect up your non-HDMI gear.
This panel also houses the RF input for the Freeview HD tuner as well as an optical output for feeding digital audio to an external amp. There's a VGA input here too, as well as an Ethernet socket. Unlike last year's models, Panasonic has built Wi-Fi into this set, so you don't have to shell out for an expensive dongle to go wire free.
All four HDMI ports are mounted on a second panel on the left-hand side of the TV. Thankfully, these are set far enough back from the edge that your cables don't overhang the bezel like they do on some TVs. This side panel is also home to the three USB ports. Mounted slightly further back is a CAM slot in case you want to use the set with the pay TV services now available as an add-on to Freeview.
Internet TV, recording and playback
This set includes Panasonic's Viera Connect Internet TV platform. The look and feel of the service remains unchanged from previous Panasonic TVs. It still uses a 3D layers system, with each layer showing a grid of nine large icons. You move up and down through the layers using the forward and back controls on the remote. It works okay if you only make use of a few apps, but as you load in more from the app store, the layers system becomes a pain and you long for a simpler flat grid layout.