Has Panasonic lost its lovin' feeling for plasma TVs? The 47-inch Panasonic TX-L47ET50B is the Japanese manufacturer's biggest ever LCD TV by some distance, and as such represents a major shift in what it thinks is the right tech for home cinema.
For long a manufacturer mainly of plasma panels, Panasonic LCD TVs have thus far only been made in sub-37-inch screen sizes.
So the Panasonic TX-L47ET50B - priced at £1,673 in the UK (about $2,660) - and little brother the TX-L42ET50B (£1298/about $2070) are genuinely new for - tech-wise - arguably the most important brand in flatscreen TVs.
It may be a step in another direction for Panasonic, but the TX-L47ET50B is hardly a novelty act. In fact, this era of all brands offering everything might play into our hands in this case for one good reason: Panasonic's small screen LCD TVs have thus far been immaculate.
The main reason for that hasn't been the use of Edge LED backlighting (which, incidentally, the Panasonic TX-L47ET50B has), but instead their being based around IPS panels, which tend to extend the viewing angle noticeably further than basic LCD panels.
Happily, the Panasonic TX-L47ET50B constitutes Panasonic's largest ever attempt at an IPS-panelled television.
The Panasonic TX-L47ET50B isn't all about panel tech, living up to its Smart Viera LED TV name in more than one way.
Most eye-catching is it super-slim 36mm-deep chassis, which is dressed in an unusual mix of transparent lip and silver bezel, the latter of which measuring just 11mm wide. Called a 'Crystal Frame' by Panasonic, it's a great idea and cleverly executed, although the Panasonic TX-L47ET50B is a tad wider than it actually appears.
Appearance is all with its 3D system, too, which uses the active shutter tech developed by Panasonic.
Unfortunately this is the brand's entry-level 3D LED effort, so it doesn't actually ship with any 3D glasses in the box. We managed to procure a pair of Panasonic TY-ER3D4ME 3D glasses, which cost £81 in the UK and $80 in the US, where they're called Panasonic TY-ER3D4MU 3D Active Shutter Eyewear. Not too bad you might think, but for a family of five?
It's an unlikely upgrade, which partially explains Panasonic's introduction of its Easy 3D range of ET5 LED TVs, which use the much cheaper passive technology. Glasses for those TVs cost just a few quid, but the detail levels aren't as high.
Smart TV functions consist of Viera Connect, a grid-style presentation of app icons covering the likes of BBC iPlayer, BBC News, YouTube, Fetch TV, Eurosport and Skype. To use Skype, you'll need to add a £130 Panasonic HD Communication Camera TY-CC10W, which is called the TY-CC20 and costs $130 in the US.
Other Panasonic TVs
Aside from the simple small-screen LCD-based C Series, all of Panasonic's other LCD TVs for 2012 are LED-backlit.
The HD-ready X5 Series' largest screen is the 32-inch TX-L32X5, while the 32-inch TX-L32ET5 kicks off the ET5 Series, Panasonic's only attempt at passive 3D TV.
Other sets include the 37-inch TX-L37ET5, 42-inch TX-L42ET5, 47-inch TX-L47ET5 and 55-inch TX-L55ET5, all of which ship with four pairs of 3D glasses as well as Viera Connect, Wi-Fi and DLNA networking.
All other Panasonic LED TV ranges with 47-inch screens use the active shutter 3D system. These include the high-end Panasonic TX-L47WT50 in the WT50 Series, which boasts two pairs of 3D specs, Infinite Contrast, dual core Pro4 processor, web browser with Flash support, Bluetooth and a touchpad remote.
Active shutter 3D also appears on the more basic Panasonic TX-L37DT50 in the DT50 Series, with Brilliant Contrast, but no 3D specs or dual core processor.