Panasonic TX-L47ET60B review: Panasonic TX-L47ET60B

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Panasonic TX-L47ET60B
You can now create your own custom smart TV homescreen.

When you turn on the TV it opens your chosen homescreen, but as one of these is simply for full-screen TV, you can opt for it to take you straight to this, rather than having to go through a menu every time. What's more, you can also customise these homescreens with different apps and widgets, or create your own from scratch using a number of different templates. It's all pretty easy to use, and the ability to create your own homescreen with all the apps you most use is an excellent idea that works well in practice.

The set comes with a number of apps preloaded, including BBC iPlayer and Netflix. You can download a bunch more from the Viera Connect app store. The app store is reasonably well stocked and most apps are free, although games usually need to be bought. On the shelves you'll find the likes of YouTube, iConcerts, Skype, DailyMotion, Acetrax, Facebook and Twitter. There are still a number of gaps in the lineup though, as there's no support for Lovefilm and it lacks an app for ITV Player, which is now supported on Samsung's TVs.

The set also has on-board media players for playing files either locally from SD cards or USB drives, or streaming files from a PC or network-connected hard drive. Format support is good too, as it happily played HD MKV files, as well as MP4, Divx and Xvid videos.

Audio quality

The slimness of the chassis unfortunately seems to have compromised this model's sonic. As with last year's ET50, this one sounds quite tinny. Even if you crank up the bass control in the menu and turn on the bass booster, it doesn't improve matters much. The speakers just don't seem to have it in them to produce much in the way of the low-end sonics. At least dialogue isn't as muddy as on the older ET50, as there's definitely more clarity when it comes to speech. Still, there are better sounding mid-range TVs to be found on the market than the ET60.

Panasonic TX-L47ET60B
The set's audio lacks low-end punch, even when you crank up the bass in the audio settings.

2D picture quality

The ET60B's 2D picture quality is very good on the whole, especially for a mid-range TV. It's got bags of brightness on tap so it looks exceptionally vivid in a brightly lit room. Colours are also bold and strong, but as most of Panasonic's presets don't over drive the panel, colours have a nice warmth to them that works especially well for movie watching.

Panasonic TX-L47ET60B
Panasonic's presets are usually good, especially the True Cinema one.

On the motion front there's a fair degree of blur when you've got all its motion processing turned off (like all LED models). Turning on the motion processing at the high setting smooths this out, but does introduce glitches in the picture – this usually manifests itself as tearing around moving objects. If you knock it back to the minimum setting then motion still looks reasonably smooth, but you don't get as many glitches due to processing errors. On the whole, this screen's motion processing is not outstanding, but is pretty good considering where it sits in the market.

As with most of the Panasonic models I've seen before, the ET60B also does a very good job of upscaling standard-definition channels or movies on DVD. Panasonic's upscaling does a good job of sharpening things up nicely without introducing lots of extra picture noise, so even the poorer quality Freeview channel are still very watchable on this model.

As this set uses an IPS panel, it's got very good viewing angles too. You have to be looking at the screen from a very extreme angle before you see any significant shift in colour or contrast. In this regard it's much better than most Sony and Samsung models, which use a different type of panel that struggles with colour shifts at wider viewing angles.

Given the relatively high asking price, I don't think black levels are quite as good as they should be. They're fine for bright room viewing, but in a darker room in the evening they're not as inky black as I saw on some of Sony's models last year. There's also some of clouding caused by unevenness in the backlighting, something that affects pretty much all LED screens to some degree but isn't an issue on plasma TVs.

3D picture quality

It's a pretty open secret that all of Panasonic's 2013 LED models are built around LG panels, and as a result all the 3D models use passive rather than active 3D. Two pairs of glasses are included in the box, but extra passive glasses are very cheap. They only cost a couple of pounds each, so you won't have to stump up a load of cash for extra specs if the whole family wants to be able to watch 3D movies together. The glasses are very comfortable to wear as they're essentially just like sunglasses, but with polarised lenses.

Panasonic TX-L47ET60B
The passive 3D glasses are light and comfortable to wear.

Passive 3D does halve the vertical resolution though, so you get 540 lines fed to each either eye rather than the full 1,080 that you get with active systems. In reality it looks more like two thirds resolution, and although you can see the absent lines if you sit close to the screen, from a normal viewing distance they're not nearly as noticeable.

Watching Prometheus on this set I felt it delivered reasonably sharp-looking 3D with a good sense of depth. The absence of the flicker that you get on active specs made it less tiring on my eyes to watch and pictures look brighter, as the glasses don't dim the image all that much. It also seemed to suffer very little from crosstalk as long as you're sat at a pretty normal vertical angle to the TV. If you stand up, for example, it breaks the 3D effect completely, but that's something which happens on all passive 3D sets, and that's obviously not how you'd normally watch TV. Overall, I really enjoyed this set for 3D movie watching.

Conclusion

Finally Panasonic has managed to create a TV that's a real beauty in terms of design. It's also done a good job on updating this model's smart TV system, as I really like the way you can customise the homescreen. Its quite expensive for a mid-range model however, and its sound quality isn't great. Although its pictures are good, they're perhaps not quite as good as we'd expect when you're shelling out over a grand on a 47-inch model.