The Panasonic Viera DT50 is well equipped on the features front and sports an eye-catching design. But what's on the screen draws reviewer reactions ranging from just fine to just awful, and the value could be better. The set is available in a 47-inch screen size as the Panasonic Viera TC-L47DT50 (*Est. $1,400) and in a 55-inch screen size as the Panasonic Viera TC-L55DT50 (*Est. $1,800).
Many are disappointed with overall picture quality. Depending on the reviewer, or perhaps the specific set being tested, evaluations regarding picture performance vary greatly. That said, it's safe to say that black levels are no better than average -- and some say that it is worse than that. In fact, CNET benchmarks black levels against several current and past-year sets, including some budget choices, and reports that the DT50's are the lightest in the bunch.
When it comes to colors, there's a wide range of opinions, but all but one of the reviews we saw notes some shortfalls. FlatpanelsHD.com calls colors "horrible" out of the box. Rasmus Larsen adds that things can be adjusted to be "pleasing" with a calibration, but that the DT50 still pushes the brightest colors to be a little too bright to be accurate. With just the user controls, CNET struggles to find a color setting that looks right both technically and on the screen, adding that when compared to a better TV the "lack of saturation is instantly noticeable." PCMag.com breaks from the pack, finding colors to be essentially accurate.
Screen uniformity is always a concern with an edge-lit LED TV, and that's no exception with the DT50. Also, as is par for the course, uniformity might vary greatly with the specific set tested (or purchased). TelevisionInfo.com finds few uniformity shortfalls, saying "black levels stayed consistent and there were no bright patches." CNET's sample, on the other hand, had more serious issues. The glossy screen treatment makes the DT50 a better match for viewing rooms that have well-controlled lighting.
Well equipped, but you'll need to pay extra if you want 3D. Most give 3D performance a thumbs-up. Unlike many active-technology TVs, the DT50 suffers less from crosstalk (ghosting), making the 3D experience more enjoyable without the resolution penalty exacted by passive sets, such as those from Vizio and LG. However, glasses aren't included. CNET notes that the DT50 supports the new universal 3D standard, which means you can shop for the cheapest compatible glasses you can find (*Est. $20) instead of being tied to Panasonic's own and rather expensive ones (*Est. $60).
Internet features draw some praise, but also some criticism. Called Viera Connect, the interface is a bit less polished than those from its competitors, though that also makes it less cluttered and more easy to use. Performance is another issue; most say that the response is sluggish. "Panasonic has a long way to go if it wants to catch up with LG, Samsung or Sony in this area," says TelevisionInfo.com. Josh Fields adds that you really should forget that the browser is even there, as it's "frustrating" to use. The set is DLNA-compliant for streaming your own content from a device on the same network, and Wi-Fi is built in.
Built-in TV sound is fine for watching for casual viewing, but is generally unimpressive otherwise. The DT50 steps up its audio game, however, with PCMag.com saying that it plays "markedly louder and clearer than most other HDTV speakers," thanks to its integrated array of eight dome speakers plus a subwoofer.
It's a looker, no doubt. While we found disagreement -- and lots of disappointment -- over other aspects of the DT50, neither can be said about the design of the TV, consisting of a very thin metal bezel with a glass overhang. FlatpanelsHD.com calls it elegant and "unlike anything we have seen from Panasonic in the past." PCMag.com calls it a clean and refreshing change from the usual black bezel on most HDTVs. The remote is basic and rather large, but is easy to use.
Given its pluses and minuses, better values can be found. Even reviewers who are less critical of the DT50, such as TelevisionInfo.com, say that based on price alone it's tough to recommend the TV. PCMag.com chimes in that if you can live with a set that's less good-looking, you can find TVs that perform just as well for less money. (Keep in mind that PCMag.com finds less wrong on the performance front than most experts)
From where we sit the DT50 looks like a tough sell, as you can buy TVs that perform as well or better for less money. We'd recommend a look at the LG LM7600. The DT50 has a few advantages over that TV (a true 240 Hz refresh rate is one), but the LM7600 has picture quality that winds up scoring higher with most reviewers, an impressive suite of features and a stunning design of its own -- and it costs hundreds less.
Excellent CNET reviews lots of LCD TVs in detailed reports based on hands-on testing. Of those, the 47-inch Panasonic TC-L47DT50 finishes near the bottom of the pack; Ty Pendlebury minces no words when he calls it "among the worst we've seen this year." The picture quality disappoints in every way, including color performance, black levels and uniformity.
Review: Panasonic TC- L47DT50, Ty Pendlebury, May 1, 2012
Excellent The 47-inch Panasonic TC-L47DT50 fares a little better in this detailed review, but some of the same issues found by CNET crop up as well. On the bright side (no pun intended) peak brightness is very good, and the uniformity issues found in CNET's test sample are nowhere to be found. Though 3D performance is good, Internet connectivity disappoints and value is questionable.
Review: Panasonic Viera TC-L47DT50, Josh Fields, April 17 , 2012
Excellent This is another hands-on, testing-based review. Rasmus Larsen sees some of the same issues that other reviewers note regarding overall picture quality. He adds that that does not make the Panasonic DT50 a bad TV, just one that doesn't distinguish itself compared to the competition, and a disappointment compared with the company's plasma offerings. "We do not expect the same kind of picture performance but we had hoped to see the same dedication to picture quality and color accuracy that Panasonic puts into their plasma TVs," he writes.
Review: Panasonic DT50, Rasmus Larsen, April 17, 2012
Excellent Though discussion is briefer than at other resources, and fairly technical at times, it's also based on hands-on testing. Will Greenwald gives the 47-inch Panasonic TC-L47DT50 its most positive evaluation. The issues with color that others find are absent here, and while black levels are below that of some other sets they are still called "satisfyingly dark." Design is highly praised, as is the sound (relative to other TVs, of course). Value is called into question, with Greenwald adding that "if you're willing to compromise on looks, you can get a screen that works just as well for less money."
Review: Panasonic TC-L47DT50, Will Greenwald, May 17 , 2012