Panasonic TX-L42DT50B review

Black is sacked as Edge LED set embraces metal design, smart TV, streaming and 3D

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In terms of ins and outs there are few better-equipped sets than the TX-L42DT50B. To reach this super-slim design Panasonic's engineers have had to use adapters and proprietary connections for Scart and component/composite video, but elsewhere ins and outs are what you'd expect; four HDMI inputs, one with an Audio Return Channel, alongside three USB slots, two of which can replenish dead active shutter 3D specs.

Panasonic TX L42DT50B

There's also an SDXC card slot, something you won't find on any other brand of TV (for reasons best known to all of the others). There's a mini D-sub 15-pin port for attaching a PC in the traditional analogue manner, as well as a wired LAN port, digital optical audio output, headphones jack, and feeds for both Freesat and Freeview tuners.

Panasonic TX L42DT50B HDMI

The only real concern is that the HDMI inputs are all stored on the side of the TV, which can mean HDMI cables - especially good quality versions that tend to be difficult to bend - can too easily protrude from the side.

Both Freesat and Freeview platforms are given electronic programme guides, and it's here where Panasonic shows its old ways. Blocky, spreadsheet like, and covered in garish blue and yellow, these grid-like pages are a bit of an eyesore. Still, at least Panasonic has got rid of the advert-strewn GuidePlus+ system used in recent years.

Panasonic TX L42DT50B EPG

We're also happy to see a 'full' version of the EPG that does away with superfluous and oversized on-screen operating instructions to present a single page containing two hours' of schedules across ten channels. Setting recordings is a cinch, too. However, it's still not as pleasant to use as the likes of Sony and Samsung's EPGs, or as good-looking.

Panasonic TX L42DT50B VIERA connect

VIERA Connect is now officially our favourite smart TV platform - and that's despite an all-new web browser that doesn't really introduce as much flexibility or fluidity as it needs to succeed. As well as the bright colours and nuanced graphics of the VIERA Connect homepage, the service more than makes up for its slight lack of content choice by concentrating on core services demanded by users.

And by that, we mean the BBC iPlayer, and perhaps YouTube and Netflix (though we're hardly convinced by the latter's choice of on-demand films, so the presence of Acetrax is handy, too).

Panasonic TX L42DT50B VIERA connect

That Wi-Fi functionality can be used to stream from a networked PC or laptop using the DLNA protocol, and in our test we managed to play the likes of MOV and MP4 videos alongside JPEG photos and both MP3 and lossless FLAC music (the latter might be surprising, but seems to be prevalent on other 'smart' TVs in 2012, too). From USB support extends to MKV, AVI and AVC HD (hi-def camcorder) video files, which will please many.