What is the Panasonic TX-L50E6?
Styling and Design
The provided remote is the standard Panasonic design, which means that it gets the job done without drawing attention to itself. The remote is made of black plastic, is reasonably robust, comfortable to hold and easy to use with one hand. The buttons are sensibly laid out and there are enough to ensure comprehensive control without the remote becoming cluttered. Along with all the usual controls there is a button for directly accessing the apps page and another for accessing My Home Screen.
At the rear is a reasonable set of connections considering the L50E6B's position in the line-up, including three rear facing HDMI inputs, the second of which includes the Audio Return Channel (ARC). There is also an aerial socket, an Ethernet port, a SCART connector and an optical digital output. There is a component video input using RCA connectors that also doubles as a composite video input and analogue stereo inputs. At the side there is a CI (Common Interface) slot, a headphone jack and two USB ports.
The menu system itself is familiar from last year’s ranges with a two-tone blue and gold colour scheme and sharp, easy to read text in white. The Menus are split in to six submenus, Picture, Sound, Network, Timer, Set and a new Help section which, amongst other things, includes an ‘eHELP’ interactive menu. This is similar to the iManuals we’ve seen provided by other manufacturers and provides excellent assistance to more novice users, although the user-friendly nature of most of the menus shouldn’t require much in the way of further explanation.
Basic SetupThankfully by simply selecting the True Cinema Viewing Mode you can get a very accurate out-of-the-box performance. The True Cinema mode also has all the more exotic features turned off by default, whilst the Custom Mode appears to have many of them enabled at their mid-points - namely Adaptive Gamma Control, Black Expander and Clear White Effect. These have the combined effect of making images too bright near black, whilst obscuring shadow detail and the Clear White control seems to inject extra blue energy in to the greyscale near white. We foundF that if you turned off all the special features activated in the Custom mode then it matched the True Cinema mode, so both modes could be used to create calibrated day and night settings. We'd recommended using the True Cinema mode because that way all the special features are greyed out or zeroed by default but if you do use the Custom mode, remember to go through and turn off or zero them all. Otherwise the setup approach for both modes is the same, with the Sharpness control being reduced and the Contrast and Brightness being optimised for the specific viewing environment.
Calibrated ResultsFor the calibrated measurements we used the two and ten point White Balance control to adjust the greyscale and we used the (CMS) to adjust the colour accuracy. In this instance we used the Custom mode but you could almost just as easily have used the True Cinema mode instead.
Contrast and Black LevelsUnlike the higher models in the Panasonic range, such as the recently reviewed ET60, the E6 series uses a VA panel. This is immediately obvious because the off-axis performance is poor, resulting a fairly limited effective viewing angle of about 90 degrees. However, on the plus side, the black levels were noticeably better for a LCD TV and the L50E6B performed well in our testing. Another point worth noting is that the backlight uniformity was also excellent, with no bright edges or obvious pooling. This point was evidenced by the ANSI graphic shown below, where the various measurements for the black and white squares are reasonably consistent.
Video ProcessingThese days the level of video processing in modern TVs tends to be excellent, so it makes more sense to comment on the areas where a TV disappoints, rather than going through all the tests it excelled at. In the case of the L50E6B, the overall performance was excellent and Panasonic appear to have made some improvements to their video processing compared to last year. The L50E6B proved extremely competent at scaling standard definition content, with clear and crisp reproduction of fine details and no unwanted ringing. Whilst the L50E6B had no problems detecting 3:2 cadence, disappointingly it was unable to detect 2:2 cadence correctly which is obviously more important in PAL territories. This is an area where Panasonic has become very hit and miss and we really would like them to sort it out. Whilst not a big deal, you can deinterlace using your DVD or PVR if you wanted to, it's just annoying when some Panasonic models do pass and others don't. In most other areas the video processing on the L50E6B excelled, with 24p content in particular looking very impressive. In fact we found the overall motion handling to be quite impressive for a LCD TV, perhaps because there is less processing to introduce artefacts. The L50E6B didn't have any frame interpolation features but we measured 400 lines of resolution on the FPD Benchmark test, so even fast moving sport looked quite good. The only area where the L50E6B slightly disappointed was the quality of the video deinterlacing at 1080i50, which showed more jagged edges than we’ve experienced on our test patterns previously. This wasn't apparent when watching real world material but it did represent a minor set back compared to last year's processing.
Interestingly, the L50E6B didn't have a specific game mode and, unlike the ET60, there was no game mode selection in the Options Settings menu either. So we just measured all the modes that were available until we found the one with the lowest input lag. Unsurprisingly the True Cinema mode performed best, which is to be expected as all the processing features are turned off in that mode. We measured the lowest input lag at around 48 milliseconds which is fairly average, based upon our numerous tests last year. The ET60 also delivered a lowest lag of 48 milliseconds, so clearly the absence of a game mode wasn't a big loss. In terms of actual game play, we found the L50E6B handled motion very well and the bright, large and detailed images really lent themselves to an enjoyable gaming experience. If you aren't interested in 3D gaming and don't have the reactions of a cobra, then the L50E6B might make a good choice for the casual gamer.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 42W
- Calibrated – Custom Mode: 60W
Panasonic TX-L50E6 Picture Quality
The arrival of the L50E6B coincided with a weekend session of watching the second season of Game of Thrones and the Panasonic handled itself admirably. The beautifully cinematic images of the HBO fantasy series were superbly rendered with accurate flesh tones and plenty of fine detail. The specific colour schemes for the different parts of the mythological world in which the series is set where expertly reproduced and the black levels and shadow detail were also excellent. Whilst any LCD TV always has a slightly processed look when compared to plasma, when viewed at the correct angle the L50E6B could be genuinely impressive. The L50E6B proved to be a fantastic all round performer and regardless of whether you're watching TV, DVDs or Blu-rays the results were always highly entertaining.
- Excellent out-of-the-box performance
- Reference level of accuracy after calibration
- Impressive level of video processing
- Very good motion handling
- Excellent black levels and dynamic range
- My Home Screen is a big improvement
- Extensive smart features and numerous apps
- Decent sound for a slimline TV
- Android version of remote app is buggy
- Failed to correctly detect 2:2 cadence
- Pricey for a 2D TV
Panasonic TX-L50E6 (E6) TV Review
Despite sitting near the bottom of Panasonic's LED LCD TV range, the L50E6B certainly doesn't look that way, based upon its design and specifications. Whilst on closer inspection, the all-plastic construction might betray its lower range position, the attractive design and solid construction suggests a much more expensive TV. The stand doesn't swivel, which is a shame given the limited viewing angle and the HDMI connections face rearwards, making wall mounting tricky but otherwise there's little to complain about.
The L50E6B includes Panasonic's new Smart TV System, so you get My Home Screen, Voice Guidance, Swipe and Share 2.0 and the new Remote App 2. There's also built-in Wi-Fi, a Web Browser, VIERA Connect apps, a Media Player and the option to add a camera. In testing we found all the new smart features to be well designed and effective, with the new remote app being a stand out addition. The networking capabilities were also very good, with the L50E6B connecting with our network and other devices easily and the file support was comprehensive.
The L50E6B uses a VA panel with LED edge lighting, so the downside is a limited viewing angle but the black levels are excellent, as is the contrast ratio and dynamic range. The backlight uniformity was also very good, which makes a nice change. Once you add in an accurate greyscale and colour gamut, plus some excellent video processing, the result is a genuinely impressive picture. The L50E6B proved to be a fantastic all round performer and regardless of whether you're watching TV, DVDs or Blu-rays the results were always highly entertaining.
At first sight the Panasonic L50E6B might seem a little pricey given that it doesn't even include 3D. However, on closer inspection, you will find a well-designed, feature heavy TV that delivers a first class picture and sound. If you're not interested in 3D then the L50E6B could well be the big screen LED TV you've been looking for and is certainly worth a demo.
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