Test Report: Panasonic TC-L55WT50 3D LED LCD HDTV

There are those for whom a plasma TV won’t do. Maybe they’ve only seen plasma TVs in the store and think that LCDs look better. Maybe they have ?a really bright room. Sales numbers show that the majority of consumers choose LCDs.

So what’s a plasma-centric company like Panasonic to do? Well, a few years ago it started expanding its limited LCD offerings, a process that led to this big — and pricey — LED edge-lit model, the TC-L55WT50. At first glance, it does things no plasma can: It’s incredibly thin and very bright, and it has a waif-like bezel. It has further tricks up its sleeve, specifically In-Plane Switching liquid crystal tech, which offers viewing angles far better than most non-IPS LCDs. In that one respect, it performs like plasma. But in another significant respect, it’s really not like plasma.

But let’s start with the basics. I mentioned above that this set is amazingly thin. Even in an era of thin TVs, this one stands out. At 1.1 inches, its thinness borders on absurd (something that can also be said of OLED, which is about the width of a pencil).

Like the Panasonic TC-P55VT50 plasma I reviewed in the October 2012 issue, the WT50 comes with two remotes. The first, a basic backlit affair, looks like every other Panasonic remote from the past few years. It provides direct access to the Viera Connect smart?TV features, but mostly it’s just a regular remote. The other one is far more interesting. Looking like a sort of sci-fi communicator, the Touch Pad remote is a remote that’s designed for Web browsing on the TV. Thumb Pad is more accurate, since you slide a cursor around the screen with reasonable ease using just your big digit. It works well enough, though a QWERTY keypad hidden in one of these things wouldn’t hurt.