We know Panasonic is still obsessed with plasma – and rightly so judging by its new ZT60 Series – but 2013 will see more LED-backlit TVs from the Japanese manufacturer than ever before.
At the top of the tree is the 55WT60, a 55-inch that's accompanied in the WT60 Series by the 47-inch 47WT60. This is heavyweight stuff, with every single slab of new TV tech for 2013 included, though it's first worth pondering the55WT60's luscious looks.
The effect of a metallic bezel of a few millimeters is slightly threatened by its rather shiny, silvery finish, which appears to catch the light. Along the bottom of the bezel is a transparent plastic rim, an embellishment that continues down to an unusual desktop stand.
Broadly L-shaped from the side with a clear glass base rimmed with the same silvery metal as the bezel, it's an effect that isn't unpleasant, though it does most recall a gaudy coffee table from the late Nineties.
Picture-wise the 55WT60 is more convincing, with Clear Panel Pro, a 400Hz mode, and some new local dimming tech. That's good news after 2012's WT50 Series' failure to really wow us with its disappointing black levels. First impressions are of an intensely bright panel with more profound black levels, while the viewing angle is more than wide enough.
Connectivity includes four HDMIs, a couple of USBs and a SD Card slot, too, though it's what the 55WT60 can do with digital files that's really impressive.
Shipping with a touch pad controller and offering voice activation and Swipe & Share, this is an attempt to take VieraConnect (which continues) to the next level. Voice activation lets you dictate Tweets and posts them without you having to lift a finger, while Swipe & Share uses a Panasonic app to trade files back and forth between a tablet, a TV, a USB stick in the TV, and a phone.
All have to be on the same network and in our demo the phone – an iPhone – was wired-in. However, the range of one and two-fingered swipes to send and receive files will already be familiar to most.
There's even a pop-up camera – the first appearance of one on a Panasonic TV – to enable hands-free Skype, though the one we tried to push in and out did get stuck.
Amusingly, while inspecting the 55WT60 we overheard a conversation in which someone asked a Panasonic staffer whether he would buy a plasma or this flagship LED TV.
"I would never buy an LED when I can buy a plasma," came the reply, adding for good measure that it's not until Ultra HD plasmas enter the fray that the new format will impress people. With so many stunning plasmas TVs on the Panasonic stand this year it's hard to argue with that, though the 55WT60 makes a powerful argument to the contrary.