Panasonic TX-L47WT65B (WT65) TV Review
The shiniest star of Panasonic's LED TV firmament comes in to view of the AVForums telescope
What is the Panasonic TX-L47WT65B?Panasonic’s flagship Plasma TVs are nothing short of sensational and deliver mouth-watering images, whilst incorporating great designs and a host of smart features. There’s certainly nothing in it regarding the processing and feature-set but the question is, can their top-tier LED product – the WT65 - get even close to matching the ZT65 or VT65 for picture quality? There’s certainly a lot of fancy processing inside but the WT65 has got a real job on to even get close. At just under £2,000 the TX-L47WT65B certainly isn’t cheap but with the current offer of a free iPad 2 (for a limited time) there’s a sweetener but considering the 50-inch VT65 is priced £150, or so, lower is it enough to tempt the picture quality conscious customer? Eyes down, tablets at the ready as we're about to find out.
Design and ConnectionsThe WT65 looks pretty much like all the other high-end Panasonic LED TVs this year; meaning it has an ultra-thin silver bezel and a Size 0 chassis. It does, however, differentiate itself by being the only model in the range to feature an illuminated LED in the acrylic strip, to the underneath, which lights up in pale blue to amaze your friends. During the daytime we actually quite liked it on but thankfully it can be shutdown to stop it distracting in low light viewing conditions. It’s certainly quite a cool effect and it even flashes when receiving an incoming Skype call too but it’s likely to divide opinions; to put it another way – Mrs H really liked it, whilst I preferred it off. Another cosmetic feature that sets the WT65 apart is the ‘Metal Air’ style stand that truly does give the screen the appearance of being suspended in mid-air. It’s certainly pushing the envelope of design and Panasonic has addressed some of the practicalities of installation by providing a wire management kit in the box of the WT65B to maintain those clean (non) lines. The final flourish of the WT65 is provided by an all-white backing to the chassis; it’s very iDevice looking and although, obviously, you don’t spend a great deal of time with your head behind the TV we can see how it will make the WT65B stand out on the shop floor. The days when we talked of Panasonic being a generation – or three – behind in the design department are truly over.As is befitting of a 2013 flagship TV, the TX-L47WT65 ships with multiple control options. The Touch Pad controller offers a simple way to navigate around menus and assume general control of the WT65. It’s very similar to last year’s but now includes a ‘trigger’ at the rear, so we like it even more. It’s actually a very good design choice by Panasonic, making the Touch Pad much easier to use one-handed; whereas previously you were required to be rather dextrous to keep the experience smooth when wanting to verify a selection. That’s a long way of saying it acts as an Enter/OK button and does so very well. As the name would suggest, the controller has a touchpad that allows for some rudimentary TV controls, such as volume or channel selection but it really comes in to its own when used to scroll the internet functions and apps. New for 2013 is a built-in microphone offering its own command interface which actually works very well and, all importantly, is responsive to Northern accents.
We were half expecting yet another redesigned standard remote with the WT65. So far this year we’ve seen no less than 5 distinct designs from Panasonic but the included handset was in fact identical to that which comes with the DT65; being silver in colour and of a very familiar layout but including new prominent buttons for Home and Apps, which is a fair old sign of the times. The L47WT65B also comes with four pairs of polarised 3D glasses which are extremely light and comfortable to wear but the lenses aren’t the biggest so might prove difficult to fit over prescription glasses. The lenses themselves are remarkably tint-free with, if anything, a very light grey coating seeming to have been applied. This bodes well for 3D viewing later but they definitely could have been more generously sized.
Connectivity options are provided by 3 HDMI inputs, running down the side and less than 9cm from the edge of the bezel so that included wire-tidy tube will be put to good use keeping your leads hidden. Also on the side facing connections panel are 3 USB ports, a headphone jack, a S/PDIF digital audio out and a SD Card slot. Running across the bottom, and downward facing, there’s a LAN port; two satellite antennae inputs (for dual tuner recording), a single DTV aerial terminal – internally it’s dual for Freeview HD recording; adapter inputs for component and composite video inputs; a connection for the RGB Scart adapter and L/R stereo audio jacks. The WT65 can also hook up to Bluetooth enabled devices to stream audio. This year sees the back of a D-SUB VGA PC connection for Panasonics so it’s HDMI only from here on in.
MenusThe ‘Department for Menus’ has certainly seen some activity over at Panasonic this last 12 months. The Picture Menus, in particular, now play home to a vast array of enhancement options – a lot of which aren’t really needed. The new my Home Screen however is excellent, providing a tailored interface that allows the user to get to their preferred apps, channels and features more quickly and easily. If you don’t want to be greeted with your own personal splash screen on each power-up, you can always just elect for the ‘Full Screen TV’ option.
The WT65 supports Panasonic’s new Viewing Mode - Custom, to accompany the existing Dynamic, Normal, Cinema and True Cinema options. A further delve in to the Setup menu will allow for 2 further Viewing Modes – Professional 1 and Professional 2 – which contain a very full suite of calibration controls including two and ten point White Balance controls, pre-set gamma values, as well as 10 point adjustments and a full 6 point Colour Management System (CMS) for detailed calibration of both the primary and secondary colours.
There are also some new for 2013 options including Adaptive Gamma Control, Black Expander and Clear White Effect. Also in the WT65 we have Ambient Sensor, Noise Reduction, MPEG Noise Reduction, Caption Smoother, MPEG Remaster, Resolution Remaster, Brilliance Enhancer and Intelligent Frame Creation - Panasonic’s motion interpolating system. A further submenu named ‘Option Settings’ allows for switching on of the Game Mode, a 1080p pixel direct mode and the engaging of the Film Cadence Mode, all of which will be tested later on. Here is also where you’ll find the setting for HDMI RGB Range, which unless you’re hooking up a PC, will be best set at Normal range but it’s good to see that it’s assignable per input. Finally, should you so wish, the HDMI inputs can be set to be expecting Graphics or Photos with some automatic picture adjustments then applied, but unless this a professional requirement, we’d advise leaving at the default Auto Setting.
On the front page of Picture options are more usual choices for Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness and Colour and – new for this year – a dedicated Backlight slider. Also ringing the changes is a new selection of Warm2 as a Colour Temp in addition to Cool 1 & 2, Warm1 and Normal. We’ll have to investigate the merits of each later in the review but Warm2 looks favourite in terms of out-of-the-box accuracy. The front page of picture options is also where one will find the ‘local dimming’, Adaptive Backlight Control with settings of Min, Max and Off; again, we’ll evaluate these further in.There are a number of 3D settings available. Users can manually alter the ‘strength’ of the 2D>3D conversion mode (Min/Mid/Max) but it is only selectable once enabled in the next option down, 3D Adjustment. Just below the 3D Adjustment option you can select to alter the Picture Sequence if you feel, and we quote the manual, ‘that the sense of depth is unusual’. There’s an Edge Smoother option too that we’ll check out later on and the 3D Detection can be set to Off, On or On Advance. The Off setting speaks for itself, whereas On detects particular 3D signals (Frame Sequential, SBS etc) and displays them automatically and On Advance detects all 3D signals and shows them without any notification or user intervention necessary. Finally there’s the choice of being able to swap the left and right frames of the 3D image over for those feeling any discomfort.
FeaturesBeing the premium-grade product that the WT65 assuredly is, it’s suitably endowed with every smart feature that Panasonic has to offer in 2013. It includes Panasonic’s new Hexa-Processing chip, which delivers a very nippy Smart TV experience, loading web pages with almost PC speed. There’s two ways to access Panasonic’s smart experience this time around; one can either go straight in to the Apps screen where the full suite can be uncovered or opt to go via the more personalised My Home Screen interface. The Apps screen provides a welcomed unified location for the full bag of goodies: including access to the Web Browser, Media Player and Server, the Main Menu and TV Guide as well as the installed apps.
As well as the new content and interface, Panasonic has also launched their new VIERA Remote 2 app. This latest version of their remote app is available for both iOS and Android and includes a redesigned interface and some new features such as access to the apps page. There is also Swipe & Share 2.0 which allows for easier sharing of content between devices, with just a flick of the finger (or thumb). The new Smart Calibration interface Panasonic’s allows full access to the necessary adjustments for a full picture calibration and has the great benefit of not calling up the user menus, which is an annoying trait of the Panasonic’s on two fronts: a) the menus time out too quickly and you’re often left measuring them and b) even their presence at the bottom of the screen affect measurements, albeit only slightly. The only slight drawback is that the Smart Calibration feature only works in conjunction with the ‘Custom’ Viewing Mode; ideally we would have like to have seen it interact with the professional modes too. We’re also very pleased to report that the updated Android version of the new app is now as steady as the iOS version.
The TX-L47WT65B includes a built-in camera for video calling through the Skype app; it can used in conjunction with the face recognition technology on-board to bring up personalised My Home Screens and it can also be utilised to create video messages. The Camera automatically pops up when a relevant application is detected but needs to be eased down, by hand, in order that it can be hidden behind the bezel. We found the camera worked reasonably well when the room was bright but struggled when the lights were down low, so make sure you illuminate suitably if you want to be seen clearly during that Skype call or when leaving a video message for others in the house.
The Media Player and Media Server also worked near flawlessly, connecting easily with our home network and a number of devices and providing extensive file support. Overall we found the 2013 version of Panasonic's Smart TV System to be hugely successful in its ambitions of uniting and simplifying the experience and offering bags of content, to boot. We’re increasingly finding ourselves using the apps built-in to TVs, instead of turning to external devices, as they increase in effectiveness to rival them and the WT65 was certainly excellent for our diet of streamed on-demand content. The inclusion of a fully-fledged dual tuner PVR for both Freesat and Freeview HD services is further testament to the TV becoming an all-in-one solution but you need to make sure the external Hard Drive used is USB 3.0 compliant.
The pre-calibrated Professional Viewing Modes provided a very good starting point for a detailed calibration. Greyscale errors were relatively minor in the brighter area of the range with luminance too high near black, causing larger errors near black because of the greater Gamma error. There’s an over-abundance of green, generally, but with 10 point White Balance and gamma controls, we should be able to fix that fairly easily. The colour performance out-of-the-box was even better with just an undersaturated red giving concerns the native capabilities of the panel weren’t up to hitting the Rec.709 standard. At least with a fully featured CMS on board, we would get an opportunity to find out.
As we’d expect from such a comprehensive set of calibration controls, we were able to extract near impeccable performance from the TX-L47WT65B. Both greyscale and gamma are tracking flat as the proverbial pancake and with a highest Delta Error – barring black – of just 0.33, it’s an incredibly accurate performance from the WT65B. Blueish blacks are a common trait of LED LCD TVs and there’s nothing we can do with it in any case.
We were able to improve the already excellent colour performance but red wasn’t quite able to fully saturate whilst maintaining correct hue and luminance. However, it’s not really that noticeable and an overall DeltaE of 0.75 isn’t exactly something to worry about but we’d like to see them push the native gamut out just that bit more. Saturation tracking at lower stimulus points was almost equally as perfect but we can see that by pushing the saturation of cyan quite hard in the CMS we have introduced a fairly significant over-saturation of cyan at 75% so we were quickly back in to the menus to reverse the damage. Balancing the errors at 75 and 100% is a better idea than having one of them essentially perfect as it will mean better gradations in the likes of sky-scape scenes, i.e. they will exhibit less banding.
Video ProcessingPanasonic’s video processing generally continues to improve year-on-year and the WT65 chomped through most of our usual barrage of testing. It proved an excellent scaler of standard definition signals with clear and crisp reproduction of even the finer details (where present), without any rough-around-the-edges ringing. For those that still have a large DVD collection but no upscaling player, the good news continues as the WT65 had no issues in identifying progressively shot film material sent in an interlaced signal, meaning as clean a representation of your old movies as you could reasonably hope for. Video deinterlacing was slightly less impressive with a few jagged edges at ‘medium acute’ angles and very noticeable problems at the most acute (-10 to 10 degree) range on the Spears and Munsil evaluation disc test. Handling of Blu-ray Disc at 1080p24 could be a little smoother and with certain tests with very fast moving content, it did lose quite a lot of detail when 24p Smooth Film wasn’t switched to Mid or above. Doing so, however, introduces the dreaded soap-effect and ruins the look of film so we’d rather put up with the odd skipped frame and a bit of judder.
Contrast, Black Levels and Screen UniformityBarring the blinking zones, we’d assumed that the WT65 would come with the same panel found in the DT65 but there appear to be a few differences in performance, and not necessarily for the better as far as this section goes. The WT65 blanks its screen completely almost immediately after receiving a black signal but by pressing the pause button on our Blu-ray remote we were able to get a reading of around 0.18 cd/m2, against a full screen white of 120cd/m2 giving a decidedly unimpressive On/Off Contrast of 675:1. Averaged black levels on the ANSI checkerboard pattern are more revealing as it shows how the WT65 will perform with mixed content but the 0.155 cd/m2 number attained here is only really a mediocre showing and gave an ANSI contrast of 616:1, with an average peak white output of 95.4 cd/m2.Some perspective is needed and not everyone watches with the lights down low and for use in a brightish living room or in daylight hours, the WT65 gives the impression of much inkier levels of black thanks to the Phase filter but it’s certainly not one for late night movie watching. In terms of even light distribution across the panel, the WT65 is a little bit brighter in the middle – which is a very common thing – but didn’t have much in the way of light pooling or clouding to distract. With the sample provided for review, there was a big issue with a dirty screen effect on panning shots that we discuss further in the Picture Quality section on the first page.
The WT65B proved extremely responsive for gaming and with the Backlight set to our preferred level we got an input lag figure of 34 milliseconds so clearly all the of that processing grunt has been put to good use. To get latency as low as that, it’s necessary to engage the Game Mode from the Options sub-menu in the Picture Menu but it’s great that it can even be applied to a calibrated mode and adds to those better produced games. We’re still (slowly) making our way through Okami HD on the PS3 and it looked splendid on the WT65.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 93.3W
- Calibrated – Pro Mode: 79.4W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 100.4W
Panasonic TX-L47WT65B Picture Quality 2DOn paper, the supposed picture advantage of the WT65 over the DT65 comes in the number of zones used for backlight scanning and dimming. We can certainly testify that in terms of motion, the WT65 does have the edge and it’s actually very smooth by LCD/LED standards and that’s without any of the motion interpolation (IFC) features engaged. There’s certainly an argument for using IFC at Low for really rapidly moving content but there will be the odd artefact generated by the processing along the way, should you choose that route. It wasn’t all good news on the motion front, however, and the sample WT65 provided for review suffered with some of the worst Dirty Screen Effect (DSE) under panning shots we’ve witnessed in a long while. Literally every lateral movement would see uneven patchiness in solid blocks of colour that made watching the FA Cup Final, for instance, a frustrating experience. There’s been various speculation as to what causes the effect but whatever it is, it’s certainly very intrusive and wholly unbecoming of a top tier TV.
So if the added zones are a mixed bag in terms of motion performance, what of the local dimming or, to put it more correctly the adaptive backlight control? Well, unfortunately, there’s no real improvement over the DT65 and ET60 we’ve covered recently and that’s to say it isn’t really very good. The Low setting is anything but local, it’s a global dimming control that could have its uses should your unit suffer from uneven backlighting – mercifully the WT65 here was very good in that regard – but the Mid and High Settings work a bit differently and introduce luminance – and to a lesser extent, colour - shifts into pictures, that can spoil the calibrated image. The picture is analysed in blocks with adaptive adjustments made in an attempt to maximise intra-scene contrast by making bright portions of the picture brighter still and darkening the areas nearby. It’s not always unsuccessful and is sometimes effective in giving darker scenes more contrast but there were enough instances of misbehaviour for us not to consider either as a truly viable option. As we’ve found with some other ‘local dimming’ systems in that past – perhaps tellingly those from LG – the Mid setting provides the best black levels but crushes detail and ultimate dynamic range so use with the caveats mentioned borne in mind.
On a positive note, the Panasonic TX-L47WT65 scores extremely highly for its accurate colours and neutral greyscale. Even out of the box, it was impressive and much of our viewing time was spent in admiration at the level of fidelity offered. Viewing angles have always been a strength of IPS panels but the WT65 takes it a little further by not only offering colours that stay (all but) true from fairly acute angles but it also manages to almost totally retain the, admittedly average, native black levels and contrast too. The WT65 employs a unique ‘Phase’ filter to achieve this feat and Panasonic terms it ‘Advanced Wide Viewing Angle’ but whatever it is, and whatever it’s called, it really works and it’s a technology we’d like to see more of down the line.
It may seem like we’ve been harsh in the WT65’s picture assessment but the truth of the matter is, for a flagship product, costing top dollar, it simply doesn’t do enough to justify its lofty billing. For around £150 less, you could gain an enormously improved picture quality, the same feature-set and an extra 3-inches in screen real estate by investing in a Panasonic 50VT65 Plasma TV. It won’t go quite as bright as the WT however, so if yours is a room with lots of ambient light then the WT65 is still a contender but we know where our money would go.
Panasonic TX-L47WT65B Picture Quality 3DNow here’s where the TX-L47WT65B really does hold its own with the other big boys and our ‘quick’ sit through of the Hobbit proved it really does deliver a fabulous depth to 3D presentation with little in the way of crosstalk to distract you. There are perhaps some TVs that are tuned to be a bit more in your face but we found the WT65’s bright and clean 3D performance to be very comfortable to watch. It also did well with side-by-side broadcast quality 3D @ 50Hz with an equally ghost free and engaging presentation, although you might occasionally spot a touch of double imaging with very bright objects. The tramlines on our Wimbledon footage certainly showed some crosstalk, at times, but it was never enough to truly bother us.
- Amazing design - if you like things contemporary
- Superb colours, especially after calibration
- Motion handling is pretty good for LED
- Bags of smart features
- My Home Screen is very good
- 3D is nice and comfortable to watch
- Dirty screen effect was very bad in sample provided
- Dimming doesn't work very well
- Mediocre black levels
- Dynamic range is also quite weak
- Price to performance in the key areas doesn't seem up to it
Panasonic TX-L47WT65B (WT65) TV Review
What really sets the WT65B apart from the crowd is its distinctive air stand that really does give the sense that the WT65 is suspended in mid-air. Some will like it, some will not but there’s no disputing Panasonic’s design team are now pushing the envelope rather than playing it safe, as we’ve seen in years gone by. There’s also a bright white back-plate and a light blue LED strip running across the bottom of the bezel to give it distinction though, thankfully, the lighting can be switched off for late night viewing. Panasonic’s new my Home Screen interface is excellent and very welcoming for novice Smart TV users and the Touch Pad controller also works very well; there is a conventional handset included for those that prefer.
The excellent calibration controls contained in Panasonic’s extensive Picture Menu allowed us to gain an absolutely reference set of results for calibration. Picture processing was also of a generally excellent standard but the WT65B’s mediocre black levels and dynamic range will mean it’s disadvantaged in a room with fairly low lighting. The adaptive backlight control doesn’t really help, as in its most contrast boosting configuration it introduces errors to colours, with luminance particularly affected. Black level performance isn’t everything, of course, and the TX-L47WT65B can more than hold its own in a brighter environment where the phase filter really comes in to its own, allowing black to look black. Viewing angles are also superb for LED but the major annoyance in the sample supplied came from a highly noticeable dirty screen effect that reared its blotchy head on virtually all camera pans when they were over areas of the picture featuring a lot of one colour. Grass and skies, for example, really showed it up and we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t both distracting and disappointing; especially in a premium grade product.
There’s no doubt the Panasonic WT65 would cut a dash in any contemporary living room, with its dazzling design and array of smart features but it’s let down by one too many picture deficiencies for a product sitting at the very top table of flagship TVs – and costing as much as it does.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,999.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level5
3D Picture Quality7
Ease Of Use7
Value for Money5
Our Review Ethos
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