2D picture quality
Thanks to Panasonic's strong picture presets, the TX-L47FT60 looks good right out of the box. The Cinema and True Cinema picture modes are particularly impressive, so you don’t have to carry out much in the way of tweaking get good results either from the on-board Freeview and Freesat HD tuners, or movies fed via Blu-ray.
The FT60 is particularly good at delivering rich and vibrant colours, while also handling more subtle colour hues, such as skin tones, with expert finesse. Its high brightness levels give its pictures plenty of punch, making it a good option for use in rooms that get a lot of bright sunshine during the day.
The set does a reasonably good job of delivering good levels of shadow detail in darker scenes, while in bright rooms black areas of the picture seem to have good depth. It's when you use it in the evening with the lights turned down however, that problems start to arise. Dark areas of the picture look more greyish than we would have liked. There's also some evidence of light leakage towards the bottom left- and top right-hand corners of the screen on the sample I had in for review.
Although you can use the adaptive backlight control to improve black levels, it only works up to a point. It dims the overall image to improve black level performance in dark scenes, but when there's a lot of contrast in the picture -- when there are bright elements with dark shadows, for example -- the backlight tends to stay at or near full power. This highlights the bright areas, but darker bits of the image suffer and have a distinct grey tinge.
Nevertheless, it's probably an issue that a lot of people using it in brighter rooms simply won't notice. What people are more likely to pick up on is just what a good job Panasonic's Hexa image processing does of upscaling standard-definition broadcasts, adding extra sharpness to edges, while simultaneously managing to suppress image noise. HD pictures look very sharp and crisp too, just as you'd expect form a modern screen.
The TV also does a pretty good job of handling motion -- by LED standards at least. There's less of the smearing you sometimes see on other manufacturers' sets during fast-paced scenes, and Panasonic's motion smoothing technology -- called Intelligent Frame Creation -- doesn’t suffer from picture glitches as much as its rivals. This means you can happily use it on its minimum setting for video-based content, although most people will find that it's best left off for movie watching.
As this model uses an IPS panel, its viewing angles are very wide too. It doesn't suffer anywhere nearly as badly from colour and contrast shifts as Sony's screens -- which use VA panels when you're viewing it from an angle. The panel is more reflective than some rivals -- such as Sony's W905A -- so its worth bearing in mind if reflections really annoy you.
3D picture quality
All of Panasonic's new LED TVs rely on LG panels, meaning its 3D LED tellies now use passive rather than active 3D technology. In many ways I prefer the passive system, especially on sets under 50 inches in size. With passive 3D you do lose some horizontal resolution from the 3D images, as alternate lines in the image are sent to different eyes in order to create the 3D effect. It's not all that noticeable on sets under 50 inches when you view them from a normal distance, and that's certainly the case here. Also, because the FT60 is a passive set you don't get the flickering that tires your eyes when you're watching via active 3D specs, and this model suffers from almost no crosstalk.
The FT60 produces a good sense of depth when it's dealing with 3D movies, and you also have the option of pushing the 3D effect in to the screen or pulling it out a bit via the 3D settings menu. Motion in 3D is also very smooth by LED standards -- something that can be seen clearly in the long sweeping opening shots of Hugo. Panasonic includes just two pairs of passive glasses with the TV, but extra polarised glasses can be picked up for just a couple of quid online making this TV a good option for larger families who want to be able to watch 3D movies together.
The FT60 isn’t the last word in terms of audio quality, but it does a better job of handling sonics than many of its peers. It's not quite up there with the likes of Philips's PFL7007 and Sony's HX853, which are probably the best-sounding sets on the market, but Panasonic has included a small woofer on the rear to help its bass responsiveness.
In truth, its bass still sounds a bit wooden, but the FT60 does at least have more of it on tap than TVs that don’t have a woofer built in. Mid range is tight and punchy too, which helps dialogue to sound clean and direct. There's a very slight tendency towards screechiness on the higher frequencies if you push the volume level out of its comfort range -- basically above the halfway volume mark -- but that's going to be quite loud the in average-sized lounge.
The TX-L47FT60 is a pretty good all rounder, but not a truly exceptional one. It has strong sound quality, perky picture performance for bright room viewing and an easy to use and attractive Smart TV system. It needs better support for catch-up TV services, and its pictures lack the black level depth that would have made it a strong choice for watching movies in the evening with the lights dimmed.
Panasonic's similar DT65 slightly outperforms the FT60 in this regard, thanks to its support for local dimming, but in truth neither can produce the deep blacks you get from the company's plasma TVs.
If you do want an LED telly, though, and are trying to decide between the FT60 and DT65, then the FT60 is the better option if you watch most of your TV using a third-party service like Sky or Virgin Media and won't be using the on-board tuner. Alternatively, if you rely on Freeview or Freesat then the DT65 is the better buy thanks to its support for dual tuners, and you'll also get the benefit of slightly deeper black levels.