Looking at the TX-L55ET60, it's hard to believe it only sits in the middle of Panasonic's new TV range. Thanks to its gloriously slim metallic silver and glass frame, it looks every inch a flagship TV.

A quick double check, though, confirms that the L55ET60 really is only a mid-range model. In fact, it's Panasonic's entry-level 55-inch 3D model for 2013, complete with a relatively painless price tag of £1500.

Making the L55ET60's mid-range status even more startling is its carriage of Panasonic's superlative My Home Screen interface, which does a brilliant job of streamlining your access to the TV's myriad content sources. Plus it supports Panasonic's Viera Connect online platform, and enjoys a potent-looking picture engine that includes a '600Hz' motion system and an IPS panel designed to support wider viewing angles than standard 'VA' panels.

If you can live without 3D, you can save yourself a few bob by stepping down to Panasonic's E6 series. These TVs use a VA panel and have less potent motion processing, but as our recent review of the 42-inch L42E6 proves, they're still rather good. A fact which raises expectations for the ET60 series sky high.

Above the ET60 series in Panasonic's range are the DT65 series, which adds local dimming to the TV specification, and the WT65 series, which further adds Panasonic's most advanced motion processing system ever, delivering a 3600Hz effect.

In terms of products from rival brands, it's a difficult call at the moment because so many of the big brands have only just started launching their new 2013 ranges. But interesting, still-available (at the time of writing) 2012 models you might want to check out would be the Samsung UE55ES8000, and the Sony KDL-55HX753.

Features

Panasonic first introduced its Metal & Glass design concept in 2012 but only applied it to its two top-tier LCD series, the WT50 and DT50s. Happily, though, the concept has been both refined for 2012 and extended further down the range, so that it now sits glamorously around the 55-inch screen of the mid-range L55ET60.

And when we say 'glamorously', we mean it. The glinting light silver metallic finish of what little there is of the super-slim bezel looks delightful, as does the sliver of see-through material that angles out from the bottom edge. Even the silvery stand is a significant cut above the mid-range norm.

Connectivity is decent rather than outstanding, with highlights of three HDMIs, two USBs, an SD card slot, integrated Wi-Fi and a VGA computer port. A fourth HDMI would have been appreciated, and we're also increasingly starting to see three USBs on today's multimedia savvy TVs. Still, we must remember that the L55ET60 is ultimately a mid-range model, however high-end it might look.

Panasonic TX-L55ET60

You can play back multimedia files from USB sticks or networked DLNA computers, as well as going online with Panasonic's Viera Connect platform. Among the most interesting services on this are Netflix, Acetrax, the BBC iPlayer, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Eurosport, BBC Sport, BBC News and - with the addition of an optional extra camera - Skype.

There are currently no apps for LoveFilm, ITV Player, 4OD, BlinkBox and Demand Five, but hopefully some if not all of these services will arrive on Viera Connect at some point.

The L55ET60 does a brilliant job of helping you access all your content via its new My Home Screen interface, which we'll have a closer look at in the Usability section.

Turning next to the L55ET60's screen specifications, the first thing to report is that it's a 3D TV, employing LG's passive system (where a polarising filter is placed across the front of the screen). Four pairs of passive glasses have been included free.

It's a full HD screen - as you would expect these days - made using the IPS LCD panel technology designed to deliver a slightly wider viable viewing angle than VA panel types. Excellent though this sounds, however, past experience suggests that using IPS panels can result in less impressive contrast performances than you get from VA panels...

A combination of a native 100Hz panel with a 6-segment scanning backlight, meanwhile, delivers an impressive-sounding 600Hz effect, hopefully keeping LCD's common motion blur problems to a minimum.

When it comes to video processing, the L55ET60 is powered by Panasonic's V-Real 3D Pro engine, which is responsible for the TV's motion processing options, noise reduction tools, and dynamic backlight control system - all of which can have their power levels individually adjusted to suit your tastes and the requirements of different types of source material.

As a side point, it's a real relief to note that Panasonic has put right a key omission of its 2012 LCD TV settings by including a backlight adjustment. This makes calibrating pictures much easier and more effective.