Panasonic has just announced its 2013 TV range, and we’ve got our hands on the flagship 47in LED model, the TC-L47WT60. It’s also available with a 55in screen: TC-L55WT60.
We were so impressed with the previous model, the TX-L47WT50 that we gave it a Recommended award, but the new model adds plenty of new features that will have existing owners itching to upgrade.
Panasonic Viera TC-L47WT60 hands-on: design
When you’ve already got a super-thin bezel, there’s not much you can do with a TV’s design than change the stand, and that’s what Panasonic has done with the WT60 range. Instead of last year’s curved metal stand, the WT60 has a large glass base with a white metal surround – the back of the TV is white too.
There’s now a built-in camera which is motorised and pops up when needed, such as for Skype or face recognition (we’ll come to this in a bit).
Panasonic Viera TC-L47WT60 hands-on: specifications
Oddly, the 2013 Viera range has fewer HDMI inputs than 2012 models – the TC-L47WT60 has only three, rather than the TX-L47WT50’s four ports. With more and more devices sitting under our TVs, this feels like a step backwards.
There are three USB ports, though, and you won’t need to use one for a camera. That leaves enough for leaving a hard disk connected permanently for pausing or recording TV shows, and two spare for attaching USB flash drives to watch photo slideshows or videos.
There’s also an SD card reader and a component input (this doesn’t require a breakout cable – the RCA connectors are built-in).
As you’d expect from a flagship TV, Wi-Fi is also integrated but you still have the option of wired networking.
Panasonic Viera TC-L47WT60 hands-on: My Home Screen
The most noticeable new feature is My Home Screen. This is what you see when you turn the TV on – much like Samsung’s F8000
http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews/digital-home/3419027/samsung-f8000-55in-hands-on-review/ - but face recognition means the TV can display your own personalised screen, and this works for families of up to five people.
It’s possible to have many more home screens, though, each of which can be built up with shortcuts to apps or web bookmarks. If you have an iOS or Android device, the calendar widget will even sync with your device and show you upcoming appointments for the day.
In each screen, the current channel is displayed and you can choose between two different window sizes.
Navigating the screens is pretty easy with the TC-L47WT60’s touch pad controller – a second remote control with a touchpad for scrolling around home screens and web pages. A button underneath lets you click on shortcuts and links.
The touch pad remote also has a microphone which avoids the need to shout at the TV when attempting to control it using voice commands. It’s a relatively basic system, but some people might find it’s quicker than using the touch pad.
Panasonic Viera TC-L47WT60 hands-on: Viera remote app
Even easier than those methods for certain tasks is to use the Viera remote app. This works with iPhone and iPad as well as Android devices.
There’s swipe control, or a virtual remote, but neither are decent substitutes for the physical remotes. Where the app comes into its own is for calibrating picture quality since you can quickly adjust menu options using your device’s touchscreen. It’s even possible to adjust the colour points on a gamut chart – the TV updates in realtime.
Given that there’s the same old clunky menu structure underneath the shiny new interface means the app is particularly welcome.
The app also lets you use the new Swipe and Share 2.0 feature. Not only can you browse the contents of a connected USB drive (far easier than using the on-screen menus), but you can also tap on something and swipe it towards the TV to play it. You can also do this with local content on your device, be it photos, music, videos or web bookmarks.
If you’re watching a photo slideshow with friends, it’s even possible to drag photos from the TV to your device. Obviously, you need the Viera remote app installed to do this.
A nice touch is the ability to pick a photo from your camera roll, swipe it to the TV and use it as the background for your My Home Screen.
There was no word on new UK apps, so we’ll update this review when more info is available.
You can scroll through the list of apps from your smartphone or tablet, so it’s much quicker to launch an app if you don’t already have a shortcut to it on your home screen.
Panasonic Viera TC-L47WT60 hands-on: picture quality
The TC-L47WT60 has a similar IPS panel to the WT50, but the backlight scanning speed has been doubled. This should make it even better for watching fast-moving sports such as football thanks to less blur. In the demo footage we watched this certainly appeared to be the case.
Panasonic claims contrast has been improved, although it didn’t look noticeably better than the TX-L47WT50 in our brief time with the TV. Similarly, local micro-dimming is also supposedly better.
Our initial impressions of quality is that there’s not much between the WT60 and WT50, so WT50 owners won’t want to upgrade if quality is the main priority.
In fact, on both the 47in and 55in WT60, we saw that the backlight was uneven at the corners (the same light leakage issues that we saw on the Philips 46PFL7007) http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews/digital-home/3407701/philips-7000-series-46pfl7007-smart-led-3d-tv-review/ although this was noticeable only when there were light, solid backgrounds.
In normal footage, picture quality was impressive. Reds in particular were punchy and realistic, and whites were generally pure. The panel was nice and sharp, and blacks were deep.
As no sound was being played, we couldn’t test out the speakers.
We’ll bring you a more in-depth review once we can get hold of a TC-L47WT60 to test in our labs.
In terms of price and availability, no details were available, but we 47in verison to cost around £2,200 when it launches.