Panasonic TC-LE50 review:

Panasonic TC-LE50

The E50's biggest problem is that black areas of the picture are subject to backlight bleeding, which further obscures the TV's average handling of shadow detail. Side-by-side with the Toshiba, the Panasonic's images lack the solidity of the L5200. Even a decent way with 24p sources doesn't do much to propel the picture of this Panasonic TV past shoulder shrug territory.

Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.

Comparison models (details)
TCL L40FHDF12TA 40-inch LCD
Sharp LC-60LE640U 60-inch edge-lit LED
Panasonic TC-P50UT50 50-inch plasma
Sony KDL-55HX750 55-inch edge-lit LED
Toshiba 50L5200U 50-inch edge-lit LCD

Black level: Traditionally, an LCD TV that looks poor in a darkened theater room will look OK under lights, where flawed black levels become hidden. But whether in the dark or light the blacks of the E50 were quite bad in this category.

On the notoriously dark scenes of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II," the E50 was not the worst performer in our lineup -- that dubious honor goes to the TCL -- but the Panasonic wasn't much better. While it's able to pick out some detail from the onscreen gloop, the much more talented Toshiba delivered images with greater solidity.

Compared against its competition, not to mention the Panasonic's own UT50 plasma, the E50's grayish blacks made dark scenes look a little soggy. In addition, while the TV does offer some usable shadow detail, the poor uniformity hid most of it.

On the upside, though, and counterintuitively, the TV offers deeper black levels than the more expensive Panasonic DT50's, which is, at the time of writing the worst tv I have looked at in 2012. At least the E50 does offer up some depth where the DT50 simply couldn't.

Color accuracy: A look at the geek box below will quickly tell you that color accuracy is not this television's strong point. While I was able to get a relatively lively picture tackling the Color control to the ground, the charts are all still over the shop. What this translates to in program material is a saturated picture which is just a little bit too red. This is as a result of Panasonic's default Movie mode itself being way too red, and with a limited selection of controls this was too difficult to correct.

Video processing: The E50 was able to decode the 24p properly material without a problem, which is the major benefit of its 120Hz refresh rate. It also did very well in the motion resolution test, but only with Clear Motion dejudder turned on. As usual, enabling that mode also introduced smoothing and artifacts that were much worse to my eye worse than any judder or blurring it was trying to prevent, so I kept it turned off.

Uniformity: Uneven colors, a lack of shadow detail, and here's another to add to the list: uniformity problems. Most vendors are getting on the LED bandwagon this year, and it seems to be to get that tick in the check box -- LED is automatically better, dontchaknow? I'm kidding.

Edge-lit LED TVs often have problems providing a uniform image across the screen, and the E50 is no exception. The sample I received exhibited really bad uniformity, with large gray splotches when displaying a black screen or in many scenes you'd find in a dark movie like "Deathly Hallows," and they were most prevalent in the left and right hand sides of the screen.

Off-axis performance was pretty good for a cheap LCD, and while its stablemate the WT50 is better, the E50 shows off IPS technology's strengths: namely decent off-angle viewing. If you want a consistent off-axis picture and near-perfect uniformity, you're still better off buying a plasma, of course.

Bright lighting: While most LCDs look better in a lit room than in a dark one where the panel's innate lack of contrast is less of an issue, the E50 performed poorly in a bright room with blue-ish blacks and a higher reflectivity than most of its competitors in the lineup.

GEEK BOX: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0537 Poor
Avg. gamma 2.074 Average
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.2792/0.2976 Poor
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3189/0.3327 Poor
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3228/0.3318 Poor
Before avg. color temp. 5858.5339 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6013.6834 Poor
Red lum. error (de94_L) 9.4519 Poor
Green lum. error (de94_L) 7.835 Poor
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 10.2952 Poor
Cyan hue x/y 0.2241/0.3116 Average
Magenta hue x/y 0.3283/0.1608 Average
Yellow hue x/y 0.4279/0.4863 Poor
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i De-interlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 1080 Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 340 Poor
Panasonic TC L47E50

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