Why is Panasonic offering an Edge LED alternative to its plasma TVs? Given that the latter performs peerlessly with 3D and nicely upscales lesser-than-HD sources, the choice of Edge LED is surely all about the innate slimness it brings.

There's no doubting the Panasonic TX-L42ET50B's style, but is it over substance?

We liked:

Almost completely blur-free and with awesome detail from Blu-ray, this 42-inch television impresses further with a superb smart TV dimension, Viera Connect.

For long the slickest-looking of the smart TV interfaces, this Wi-Fi-powered and nicely designed GUI now has the content to match its rivals at Samsung and Sony. It's especially great to see Netflix.

Audio is better than average, too, as is the active shutter 3D effect and the backlit remote control, while the slim bezel design is nothing if not innovative.

We disliked:

Where's Lovefilm? As well as that missing app on Viera Connect, it's sad to see that no 3D glasses are included in the box, which makes 3D a pricey add-on.

We were also disappointed with the Panasonic TX-L42ET50B's tight viewing angle, LED light leakage in a corner of the panel, and generally lacklustre black levels.

The Freeview HD EPG is bland amid a core GUI that's starting to look a little dated.

Verdict:

3D is an expensive luxury on this, Panasonic's biggest ever Edge LED TV. It may have sacrificed plasma at this living room-friendly size, but its love of active shutter 3D tech refuses to budge.

That's a strange move that leaves the Panasonic TX-L42ET50B neither a slim and cheap option nor a high-end home cinema screen, although at its best it's just capable of surviving in either environment.

Also consider:

Competition among other manufacturers' ranges for 2012 is still building, with many models yet to be announced. However, the Philips 42PFL7666H is worth an audition - it uses passive 3D tech, but offers a more robust, classy metallic build quality and an app that can stream photos from phone to TV.

Those not after 3D should also check out the 40-inch Toshiba 40RL858B.