Things are looking rosy for Panasonic's large screen TV department. Rival Sony is suffering blighted sales and record-breaking losses while Panasonic is enjoying rave reviews for its latest range of flatscreens, including its first LCD televisions larger than 37 inches.
Plasma certainly isn't dead in Panasonic's eyes, but the company has sensibly made the decision to embrace Edge LED lighting and all of its benefits, notably including thinner screens and lower power consumption.
Hot on the heels of its impressive TX-L47ET50B is the step-up Panasonic TX-L47DT50, which seems to be selling for more or less the same price, despite offering several features not found on the junior model. And while logic dictates that an E series ought to be superior to a D, that isn't the case here.
The DT50 series comes in a trio of screen sizes, namely the 42-inch TX-L42DT50, 47-inch TX-L47DT50 and 55-inch TX-L55DT50. It adds 1600Hz back light trickery (basically, a 200Hz panel with a backlight that switches on and off eight times per frame) and a Clear Panel Pro for smoother motion, dual Freeview and Freesat HD tuners and an even more delectable super slim bezel.
Features common to both series include Active Shutter 3D, built-in wireless networking, Viera Connect smart TV and an LED edge-lit IPS alpha LCD screen with 178-degrees viewing angle.
While Panasonic hasn't abandoned plasma, all of its 47-inch screens are of the LCD variety, with a higher spec model, the eagerly awaited W-series TX-L47WT50 due to bring dual-core processing, SD card recording and an even slinkier design to the home entertainment party.
No other manufacturer has managed to land as many of its 2012 models on our shores as Panasonic but from what we've seen of the terrific LG 47LM670 and the current Samsung UE46D800, the South Koreans still have plenty to keep Panasonic from getting too smug about the demise of Sony.
Silver, it seems, is the new black. As least as far as TV bezels are concerned. This look was pioneered by Samsung two years ago and has now been adopted by Panasonic. And not without success, as far as the Panasonic TX-L47DT50 is concerned.
It doesn't quite match the also stunning LG 47LM670 for minimalism or inventiveness, but the design is still lovely, combining an ultra-trim silver bezel measuring 1cm deep with a translucent bottom lip. It's a definite improvement on the two-tone Panasonic TX-L47ET50.
The connections role call makes no compromises in terms of attendance or layout. All sockets considerately face downwards or sideways, enabling wall or stand mounting.
There are four HDMIs, and adaptors are provided for Scart and component video-sporting legacy analog equipment, while the Panasonic TX-L47DT50's multimedia prowess is borne out by the provision of built-in wireless and wired Ethernet connections, a playback-only SD card slot and three USB ports.
One of these can be used for PVR-style recording to a hard disk, which provides elementary time-shifting or archiving from whatever channel the TV is tuned in to. Sadly, it can't record one Freesat channel while watching something on Freeview, but you can view the recordings on a connected DLNA device.
The other USB sockets can be used for playback of files from USB flash drives or making Skype calls (you'll need Panasonic's £133 Skype camera, the Panasonic HD Communication Camera TY-CC10W, which is called the TY-CC20 and costs $130 in the US).
It's a shame TVs aren't built with the same flexibility as cars, where customers choose a basic spec and cherry pick the extras according to their budget and needs. The Panasonic TX-L47DT50 comes with active shutter 3D technology, which delivers 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution 3D, whereas more affordable models such as the Panasonic TX-L47ET5 offer passive 3D.
The problem with active shutter 3D on the Panasonic TX-L47DT50 is that the 3D glasses are not cheap, the Panasonic TY-ER3D4ME set that we used are around £80 a pair in the UK - and $80 in the US, where they're called TY-ER3D4MU - and none are included with the TV.
After enjoying the casual convenience of passive 3D on LG's 47LM670 it seems a real faff having to pair this TV with its spectacles and deal with the numerous flashing red and green light signals that the glasses emit according to their status. With passive 3D there are no buttons or switches to deal with.
In addition to HD tuners for both Freeview and Freesat, the Panasonic TX-L47DT50 can also deliver plenty of entertainment via its smart TV feature. It's not the finished article though, with no Lovefilm or ITV Player, for example, but heavyweights such as BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Acetrax and Netflix are joined by new contenders Fetch TV and the impressive Aupeo online music streaming service.
There's also a full web browser and a Facebook/Twitter app for keeping in touch with your social network while watching live TV. Multimedia file playback is industry-leading, including compatibility with MPEG2-TS rips, DivX HD, XviD, and FLAC audio files.
Image adjustment and calibration options are also bountiful on the Panasonic TX-L47DT50. Its comprehensive set of image adjustment tools includes colour management and Panasonic's Intelligent Field Creation (IFC). Like all other judder-reducing tools, there's a trade-off between smoothness and unwanted side-effects, such as haloing.