Usability

Smart TV interfaces have really come on this year, with pretty much every manufacturer upping their game. Panasonic is no different, and its My Home Screen interface on the Panasonic TX-L50E6B seems well implemented, enabling you to choose which screen (if any) of three you see when you first switch the set on.

The TV channel list is no longer available by pressing a button on the remote, but instead appears alongside the live channel in the default My Home Screen, along with shortcuts to the Viera Connect store, YouTube and multimedia files (you can choose a folder from which the screen will randomly show images).

Other options include the Lifestyle screen (with widgets for weather, calendar and so on) and Info screen (Skype and bookmarked web pages), plus you can make your own using four templates that enable you to add widgets and arrange them to your satisfaction.

Panasonic TX-L50E6B

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If you prefer to switch on and see an uncluttered screen, you can still call up the info bar along the top that provides shortcuts to features such as Messages and the all-new App store.

A dedicated App button on the remote provides direct access to a grid of 28 icons, some of which are for accessing the screen's multimedia features, EPG, web browser and so on, plus there are 21 on-demand apps.

Additional apps appear on a second page with plenty of space to populate new ones from the Viera Connect store. Pleasingly, you can delete or reorder apps so that only your preferred ones appear.

Panasonic TX-L50E6B

The death of last year's ponderous Viera interface is almost enough to bring the singing Munchkin out in us, even if describing it as wicked is probably going a bit far.

In terms of content, Panasonic has a reasonable selection of about 20 video on demand apps but is lagging behind the likes of Samsung and LG, with LoveFilm, ITV Player and 4OD among the most telling absentees.

Panasonic's smartphone Viera app, on the other hand, is streets ahead of the pack. You can choose to replicate the regular remote control and enjoy a little multimedia interaction by swiping a photo or video towards the TV. It really is as simple as that (assuming your phone and screen are on the same network).

Panasonic TX-L50E6B

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Multimedia navigation on the TV screen from a USB or network-connected drive is also a slick and enjoyable process, with more than decent file compatibility including hi-res FLAC audio files and MKV movies.

The Panasonic TX-L50E6B's remote control is a nicely designed handset that works well with the screen's traditional menu system for adjusting picture and sound modes.

The EPG is a real flexible friend, with a small video window so you don't lose contact with the live broadcast and three options for choosing between the number of channels shown and the amount of descriptive information for each show.

Sound quality

Panasonic TX-L50E6B

Despite a plethora of options, the Panasonic TX-L50E6B's sonics are a disappointment. Preset modes comprise Music, Speech and Standard, with user access to an equalizer.

With no meaningful bass to underpin the mid-range and treble, the set's speakers feel weedy and underpowered. Naturalistic dialogue, especially when muttered against a distracting musical score as in The Dark Knight Rises, is almost imperceptible. The voices of daytime studio shows are thin and easily distorted at higher volumes.

Value

Panasonic TX-L50E6B

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Against the £800 42-inch Panasonic TX-L42E6B, the Panasonic TX-L50E6B looks positively reasonable at just £99 more for an extra eight inches of screen.

In isolation, £899 for a stylish 50-inch LED screen with decent smart TV capability also seems fair, but new competitively priced models from the likes Samsung, Toshiba LG are imminently expected, some of which will offer 3D for less money.

There are also older plasma TVs of the same size that are still available that sell for several hundreds of pounds less than the Panasonic TX-L50E6B. All in all, there's some stiff competition around.