If any TV can overcome the problems that Panasonic's LCD TVs have suffered with this year with handling dark scenes, it's the Panasonic TX-L55WT65. This flagship 55-inch television enjoys Panasonic's most powerful local dimming system, as well as a high grade IPS panel.

It also features an enormously powerful 3600Hz motion processing engine, and a rich and superbly presented roster of smart TV features - all tucked away within arguably 2013's most attractive TV chassis.

Pictures often look spectacular on the Panasonic TX-L55WT65, with gorgeous colour, sharpness and clarity. Its handling of 3D sources is extremely watchable, too.

However, although the screen is more capable of producing a deep black colour than Panasonic's previous 2013 3D TVs, dark scenes still look rather artificial and uneven - which will likely be a big problem for film fans.

Gaming fans might not fancy the Panasonic TX-L55WT65 either, on account of its slightly high 66ms input lag, and the shortage of catch-up TV services on the Viera Connect online platform could also put a few people off. This all adds up to a screen with a rather limited potential audience.

We liked

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The Panasonic TX-L55WT65 looks absolutely gorgeous, and its handling of bright, colourful content is first rate. Its interface is exceptionally friendly and useful too, and its support for second screens is admirable.

We disliked

Dark scenes tend to suffer with distracting artefacts or low contrast, depending on what settings you use. The set's audio is a little bass-lite too, while input lag is too high for gamers, and Panasonic's online platform could do with more catch-up TV services.

Final verdict

The Panasonic TX-L55WT65 makes a startlingly strong first impression. Its sleek, glinting, airy, generally gorgeous design gets the ball rolling, but this is swiftly joined by a brilliantly friendly interface, a feature-rich series of content-access options and, most important of all, some really eye-catchingly sharp, colourful and beautifully nuanced pictures.

Longer examination, though, reveals some distracting clumsiness when handling dark scenes, a shortage of video streaming services versus some rival online platforms and a higher-than-average input lag figure. That adds up to more problems than we're comfortable seeing on a £2,250 (around US$3,490 / AU$3,845) TV.

Also consider

We've picked out three alternatives to the Panasonic TX-L55WT65 that you'd be mad not to consider buying instead. The first is the Sony KDL-55W905A. This employs Sony's class-leading local dimming engine and Triluminos colour enhancement to produce spectacularly dynamic, rich pictures, complete with an exceptional contrast range.

Its audio quality is a cut above the norm too, thanks to its use of long-duct speaker technology. The set's interface isn't as sophisticated as Panasonic's, but you can access a wider range of video streaming apps.

Option two is the Samsung UE55F8000. This offers a uniquely comprehensive catch-up TV platform, as well as a groundbreakingly sophisticated smart TV engine generally. Plus it handily produces stellar picture quality, thanks to mesmerising levels of contrast and sharpness.

Finally, if you're a film fan you really need to care about black level response. And if you care about black level response you simply have to check out Panasonic's P55VT65. This uses Panasonic's latest plasma screen technology to stunning effect, producing black colours that LCD technology can only dream about, while also producing richer colours and much more brightness than previous Panasonic plasma generations.