The Panasonic TX-L42WT50 isn't quite as easy to use as we'd hoped. Particularly disappointing is the touchpad remote provided alongside the normal one. For starters, the trackpad area is too small for comfort, requiring you to lift and reset your finger too often while scrolling around the screen.
The circular shape of the trackpad isn't helpful either, since it doesn't bear any relation to the shape of the screen you're working within, making your finger movements feel counter-intuitive.
Then there's the way you have to tap the trackpad to select an on-screen option. The amount and type (tap or more sustained press) of pressure required to make this work seemed aggravatingly inconsistent during our tests. Also, as with the similar approach taken by the second remote supplied with Samsung's latest high-end TVs, it's all too easy to accidentally slide off your desired selection while attempting to press the pad to select it.
The normal remote, meanwhile, is solid but certainly not spectacular. It provides one-button access to most of the TV's key features, but the layout isn't especially thoughtful, leaving you with a sense that Panasonic is clinging on to an outdated remote control design rather than going back to the drawing board to come up with something that reflects the latest TV usage patterns.
The Panasonic TX-L42WT50 is best controlled, in fact, with the latest Viera Control App. Once you've learned your way around the shortcut icons at the bottom of this app's screen (it's a pity no tutorial is provided), it proves a very pleasant way of controlling the cursor and navigating the television's features. Plus, of course, it provides a brilliantly simple means of sharing multimedia content with the TV.
Please note, though, that you can't share music stored on your iOS device with the TV. Nor does the iPhone/iPod/iPad version of the app support voice control/recognition, while the Android version does.
The Panasonic TX-L42WT50's main on-screen functionality menus, meanwhile, aren't especially attractive. They do get the job done in a reasonably logical and succinct style, despite having quite a lot of options to handle courtesy of all the calibration tools the TV had to supply to earn the endorsement of the independent Imaging Science Foundation (ISF).
Panasonic's Viera Connect platform works great in some places but not so well in others. Where it's particularly effective is in its Marketplace area. This is probably the most friendly, attractive and easy to search shop we've yet seen on a TV, and is something other brands should flat-out copy as soon as possible.
Less helpful is the main menu for getting at all your apps - pre-installed and otherwise. This uses page after page of large icons, showing only eight apps per page, meaning that you'll often find yourself delving down through multiple pages to try to rustle up the particular app you're after.
It must be stressed, though, that the system does at least enable you to move apps up and down through the pages, so you can make sure you get all your favourite apps as near the top of the menu pile as possible.
The Panasonic TX-L42WT50's skinny frame, measuring 956 x 569 x 27mm, doesn't raise any great hopes for its audio performance. And indeed, it does sound pretty much like the majority of other super-skinny TVs out there, thanks to a pretty obvious shortage of bass and a slightly congested mid-range. Still, it can hit some decent volumes, and the treble end of the spectrum is decently clean without sounding too harsh or hissy.
Considering how much the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 has got going on in terms of its features and performance, its £2,195 (around $3,460) price - discounted to just £1,700 (around $2,680) in some places - isn't as out there as it might look at first glance. Certainly it's roughly in line with the sort of pricing being applied to other dual core TVs this year from the likes of LG and Samsung.
It rather helps the Panasonic TX-L42WT50 in this section, too, that Sony doesn't do a 42-inch version of its HX853 series. However, at the same time you can't ignore the fact that while it's not got dual-core processing and lacks a few feature bells and whistles, the 46-inch Sony 46HX853 can be had for around £1,450 (around $2,290) - that's less money for four more inches of screen.