Panasonic's most concerted attempt to show that it gets LCD TV just as much as it gets plasma TV is, overall, a major success.
For starters, the brand has gone back to the design drawing board and made the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 easily the most attractive TV it's ever produced. The feature count is high too, thanks to the inclusion of 3D, online functionality and all manner of picture tweaks.
Plus Panasonic has also done a kitchen sink job where the TV's picture quality is concerned, integrating dual core processing and Panasonic's most advanced picture processing engine to date.
The overall result is a slick, flexible and mostly high-performance TV, only let down by some minor backlight issues and one or two operational flaws.
Picture quality is, for the most part, excellent. The TV's 3D images are nearly flawless, in fact, and most 2D material looks good too. Panasonic's new design approach is a joy to behold as well, and the set's connectivity and features are mostly excellent. We also appreciated the Android/iOS device control and content sharing system, and the multitasking functionality opened up by the dual-core processing.
The touchpad remote provided with the TV is frustrating to use. There's room for improvement, too, with the Panasonic TX-L42WT50's handling of dark scenes, and as usual with very thin TVs, its audio is a bit average. There's also no denying that it's pretty expensive by 42-inch standards.
Any lingering doubts about whether Panasonic could do a 'serious' LCD TV are thoroughly dispelled by the Panasonic TX-L42WT50. Panasonic has gone more than far enough with the TV's processing power and lighting mechanisms to make it a truly classy performer no matter what you feed it - although it's especially accomplished with 3D.
Its multimedia support is terrific too, and excellently handled via Panasonic's new multitasking functionality and Android/iOS apps.
It might not handle contrast as well as Sony's HX853, and it's undoubtedly expensive for a 42-inch TV, but overall the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 far exceeds expectations. Especially if you're into 3D.
The TV that most springs to mind as an alternative to the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 is Sony's 46HX853. Despite being four inches larger than Panasonic's set, this Sony is also cheaper, and delivers what we believe is the finest 2D picture quality yet produced by an LCD TV. The Panasonic TX-L42WT50, though, enjoys a trimmer design, and outguns the Sony in terms of its 3D performance and its multimedia flexibility.
Another obvious rival is Samsung's UE40ES8000. This is two inches smaller but if anything is even more glamorous in its design than the Panasonic TX-L42WT50. It's also cheaper, and features a more feature-rich and well-presented online system.
Plus it provides gesture and voice control options, as well as a better touchpad remote than Panasonic's. However, while its pictures are exceptionally punchy and bold, they lack a little of the subtlety that you get with the Panasonic TX-L42WT50.
Finally, of course, you simply can't ignore Panasonic's own plasma TVs. These don't compete with the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 where brightness is concerned, especially when watching 3D. But they're considerably cheaper, and produce class-leading black levels, making them a fine option for film fans able to use them in relatively dark rooms