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Top corner detail

Bottom corner detail

Stand detail

Stand, back


Back-panel inputs

Touch-pad remote

Touch pad close-up

Standard remote

Standard remote close-up

Smart TV home page

Smart TV custom app placement


Rhapsody app

Web browser

Banner ad

Main picture menu

Seven-point gray scale controls

Picture quality

As the third and most expensive Panasonic LED TV CNET has reviewed this year, the TC-L47WT50 faced high expectations. They went mostly unfulfilled. Like its brethren, this television delivered picture quality a notch or three below what competing LED TVs can muster, and so far behind Panasonic's plasmas that it's almost a joke.

The WT50 does have one plasmalike saving grace -- superb fidelity when seen from positions outside the sweet spot directly in front of the TV -- but that isn't enough to overcome its flaws. When you consider its high price, Panasonic's WT50 joins the ranks of flagship LED TVs that simply aren't worth the money.

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The WT50 is one of the nicest-looking TVs on the market, falling just shy of Samsung's UNES8000 and LG's LM9600, both of which scored a 10 in Design. The WT50 earns its 9 in part with a vanishingly thin black bezel edged in silver.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
While some might like the strip of clear plastic protruding from the bottom, I think it's more tacky than classy.
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I do like the stand, however, a splayed V of rounded, tapering silvery legs...
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...that terminate in a swivel base at the crux.
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The WT50 slices through any sideways breezes with a panel that's 1.1 inches deep.
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Plenty of inputs, including four HDMI, three USB, and a PC input, grace the WT50's back. Component- and composite-video connections require use of the included breakout cable.
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The WT50 comes with two remotes: the standard clicker that comes with models like the DT50 and a little puck with a thumb touch pad just like a laptop computer's. Unlike the touch remote included with Samsung's high-end TVs, this one's actually as responsive as I'd expect from a modern touch pad, making it fun to use in many circumstances.
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The touch-pad remote was at its best zooming through groups of thumbnails on the Netflix and Vudu apps; for browsing the Web, while better overall than the standard remote, it has its issues. It's Bluetooth instead of infrared, so it doesn't need a line of sight to operate.
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Panasonic also tried to jazz up its standard remote this year, but the newly glossy face serves mostly to show fingerprints. We like the rest of the changes, though...
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...from the nicely differentiated button sizes and groups to the extensive backlighting to the new dedicated Help button.
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Last year I ranked Panasonic's Smart TV interface, called Viera Cast, highest for its simple layout and ease of use. The company didn't change much beyond the name -- it's now Viera Connect -- for 2012
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I like the fact that you can easily shuffle the items you want most, like Netflix, into prominent positions.
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Navigation and app launching were a bit faster than on the ST50 plasma, likely thanks to the dual-core processor, but once I was within an app I didn't notice any differences in reaction time. The WT50 also gets "multitasking"; when I hit the tools key a virtual page flips up to reveal the most recently used apps, providing quick access.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Panasonic's content selection is top-notch since it added Vudu, although I'd like to see a dedicated 3D app like the ones LG and Samsung offer. There's a new-ish Social Networking app that lets you combine live TV, Twitter, and Facebook on the same page. Audio apps include Pandora, Shoutcast, and a karaoke app as well as a new addition, Rhapsody, which should be a boon to subscribers of that service.
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The Web browser is almost as good as the ones on Samsung and LG TVs as long as you use the touch-pad remote, but that's not saying much since no TV browser can hold a candle to any phone, tablet, or laptop browser. Clicking over to, I found I couldn't navigate down the page until it finished loading, which took forever (about a minute). I tried to scroll down by moving the cursor to the bottom of the page but it wouldn't respond. Instead I had to use the scroll bar on the far right.

Entering text via the onscreen keyboard, a painful necessity, was actually much easier via the standard remote since the touch clicker has a tendency to overshoot, and the lack of autofill is incredibly annoying. Load times were hit or miss -- mostly miss.

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Viera Connect has more advertising than other TV makers' smart TV systems. The TV actually shows you a banner ad when you first power up. It popped up and lasted only about 3 seconds, but it was still annoying. Here's how to disable it. Like many TV makers, Panasonic also reserves a spot on the Smart TV home page for an ad, and there's no way to remove it.
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Panasonic's menus remain unchanged: an all-business yellow-on-blue that still seems a bit dated compared with Samsung's and Sony's user interfaces, but gets the job done.

Unlike Panasonic's high-end plasmas the WT50 doesn't have a THX mode, but otherwise it does have most of the picture adjustments offered on the flagship VT50. Unfortunately, they don't work as well.

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Both the Cinema and Custom modes offer niceties like a color management system, selectable gamma (no 10-point gamma like the VT50 however), and a multipoint grayscale control (although it's a weird 7-point system, not the standard 10).
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All told the WT50's image quality is significantly worse than you might expect from a high-end LED TV. The TV's depth of black is worse than a few mid- and entry-level models we've tested, color is inaccurate, and there's no way to fix it because the controls don't work properly. I appreciated the excellent screen uniformity, highlighted by best-in-class off-angle fidelity, but it's not nearly enough to overcome the WT50's faults.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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