The Viera TC-L47WT50 is Panasonic's 2012 flagship 3D LED-LCD HDTV. It offers a host of luxury features that likely covers every consumer's wish list. Performance is excellent overall, with only a few minor issues.
The menu is the similar to previous Viera menus (and close to Samsung's layout). Most settings are easy to access and the picture settings most users should leave alone are sensibly located under "Pro Settings." All menus are responsive, attractive and easy to read. Most common functions can be accessed with just one or two buttons. The setup wizard takes very little time to go through but also provides substantial guidance. For my personal wi-fi setup, I had to use the green button on the remote to switch to capital letters and also select "open" for "security type"; I use WEP.
The picture on most LCD's is rather good these days, but few models can compete with the Viera WT50. Thanks to LED local dimming, an IPS panel, and IFScc calibration settings, the WT50's picture is breathtaking. Out of the box, colors are fairly accurate, rich and vibrant. The Cinema mode preset works well for dimly lit and dark rooms. Once calibrated, this TV really pops. As with most LCD's, the brightness is more than abundant, making it a good TV for any room. Contrast, gamma, gray-scale, line resolution, viewing angle, and screen uniformity are all excellent. The black levels are good, but don't reach the inky blacks found on high-end Viera plasmas. Switching on the adjustments to improve black levels works, but creates worse problems. Screen is glossy, which I prefer, and does not suffer badly from reflections.
It took me a while to find any issues/artifacts with the picture. Eventually I discovered that certain content with slight gradations of blue seem to form large blocks (like macro-blocking from compressed action scenes). This only happened with content from my cable box (1080i), but did happen with different channels. I viewed the same content on my Samsung B8500 and the artifacts were not present. I tried every combination of video correction settings on the WT50 and did not find a solution. To put into perspective, this only affected the picture for about 30 seconds out of dozens of hours of viewing.
The bezel of the TV is roughly ¼" all around, which is impressive and attractive. The depth of the TV is just 1.1", also impressive. While the bezel itself is minimalist, there is a clear plastic strip on the bottom of the panel with "Panasonic" written in the middle, which by default lights up. The strip is clear and unobtrusive. The subtle white light can be disabled. The stand is not for me, with its two striking, silver projections; it would have been nice in brushed metal instead of plastic. This TV would look amazing mounted on a wall.
The TC-L47WT50 is fairly light at 28.7 lbs. or 35.3 lbs. with stand, making it easy to setup by oneself. The stand seems sturdy enough, but is mostly plastic. The stand doesn't offer any tilt and only swivels +/- 15°. Inputs are streamlined: there is one component/composite input, which requires the included adapter cable. There is a VGA port and 4 HDMI, but no DVI. An SD card slot and three (yes 3!) USB 2.0 ports round out the inputs. The flimsy buttons on the TV are inconveniently placed and will be inaccessible if wall mounted. The back of the TV is impressively all metal, attractive and very sturdy. The touchpad remote seems like a gimmick that I can't imagine most people using more than once or twice. The main remote is responsive and has a good layout. It is similar to most Viera remotes.
One option I always look for right away is smoothing out motion (sometimes separated into blur and judder). Most LCD's have issues producing clear, smooth, flowing video of motion. This is a major disadvantage vs. plasma, which does not suffer the same problem. The refresh rates (240Hz) are used to adjust the way your eyes see the motion on the television by refreshing/adjusting the image on screen. I believe the "1920 backlight scanning" means that the backlight flickers 32 times per second, which is supposed to help motion perception. In the best TV sets, the video is processed so that there is no stuttering and also no "Soap Opera Effect," a problem introduced when there is too much processing that can make any video look unnaturally smooth as the processing tries to correct the normal variations in speed that us living things tend to do so much when we move about. Unfortunately, with the WT50, you have only basic control over the motion handling. I found that using "moderate" or "strong" motion handling produced a "Soap Opera Effect." However, the "weak" setting seemed effective enough at reducing motion blur for all but the most active content. For sports, you may want to use "moderate."
If you plan to calibrate this TV yourself, you'll be happy to find the ISFccc settings for RGB gain (2-point IRE gray-scale) and hue/saturation/luminance (as opposed to RGB sliders used by Samsung) for primaries and secondary colors. These features will mainly interest videophiles with a color spectrometer. Considering the price tag and potential of the WT50, I would recommend spending the time or money on a proper calibration. I was disappointed to find that I could not hit the targets on the CIE diagram for blue and green primaries. This could be an issue with my specific panel or with the WT50 in general. Gray-scale and gamma came in line fairly easily. Pictures of my results are at the top of the product page. Note that 3D mode and Viera Connect picture settings have their own individual profiles that save separately - a terrific feature.
I usually don't bother even reviewing the audio for an HDTV. As TV's get thinner and thinner, so do their speakers. Regardless of how advanced speakers are technologically, small speakers can only do so much. Still, I was completely surprised with the fidelity and output from the WT50's speakers. Even the soundstage projected a basic presence. While I would still recommend external speakers, the internal ones will not disappoint.
==The Third Dimension==
At first I dismissed 3D HDTV as a novelty when it came out due to the lack of content. However, now that content is becoming much more widely available, I do appreciate having a 3D capable HDTV. My wife was particularly impressed by the 2D -> 3D upconverted content and actual 3D content is truly spellbinding. The Panasonic VIERA TY-ER3D4MU Active Shutter 3D Eyewear
aren't cheap but I would not hesitate to purchase a pair. Unfortunately, none are included with the WT50. My wife did notice a slight flickering in the left eye of the glasses, but I did not. We both wear eyeglasses and were able to fit the 3D glasses over them. The 3D glasses are more comfortable and light than others I have tried in the past. The TV dims significantly when in 3D mode, but all the picture settings are saved separately for 3D mode (and for Apps), so it's easy to compensate for the differences.
The feature list of the WT50 is amazing. The internal wi-fi gets great reception and speed on the second floor, with my router on the first floor; it can take 10-30 seconds to connect when powering on. Bluetooth is also included so you can connect a keyboard, audio device, etc. The USB ports give you even more connectivity options (though my third-party webcams won't work). You can also use your smartphone as a remote and interact with your TV through Panasonic smartphone apps. I did not notice any issues with input lag when in Game Mode.
The "Viera Tools" button, located prominently on the remote, brings up the applications. The WT50 comes with many apps pre-installed (Amazon, Skype, Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Hulu). I immediately setup the Amazon Instant Video service, which had become the main use of my Playstation 3. All the apps work great and I have no trouble getting HD streaming through Amazon with the built-in wi-fi. You can look up the full list of apps via the Viera Connect Apps Navigator on Panasonic's website.
The TC-47WT50 is priced and performs as a high-end flagship HDTV. It is capable of producing an amazing picture that rivals anything produced in the last 2 years. I'd recommend this model to anyone looking for the best combination of picture quality and features regardless of price. I recommend professional calibration and external speakers, but performance is impressive out-of-the-box.
Note: I am not a professional calibrator. These settings reflect my best personal judgement and preference. I recommend them as a reference for your own custom settings. Correct calibration settings vary from one TV to the next, often greatly. My CIE diagram and IRE chart can be found in the product page pictures. Please leave a comment if you have questions or advice. UPDATE: I found that pushing colors to the full CIE range caused pixelation as colors approach the pure primaries. So, color accuracy is the only real negative of this tv (especially getting truly blue blues) but should not affect most viewers.
Backlight 20-60 (adjust for ambient light)
Sharpness 20 (set higher for SD content)
Color Temp warm
Color Mgmt off
a.i. pic off
CATS off (does not work for my tv's location)
Advanced Picture Settings:
1080p pure d. off (set to on for 4:4:4 input)
black level light
high r +6
high b +6
low r -1
low b -2
hue: red 0, green 38, blue -5
saturation: red 3, green 7, blue 30
black extension 0
gamma adjust 2.4
panel bright low
contour emph. off
hue: yellow 26, cyan -25, magenta 31
saturation: yellow 15, cyan 15, magenta 0
luminance: red 15, green 5,blue 24, yellow -6, cyan -10, magenta 0