PANASONIC TX-L50E6B

£850

Panasonic has won group tests and five-star reviews in almost every screen size we’ve tested so far in 2013. So we’re surprised that the TX-L50E6B doesn’t impress us in quite the same way.

The TX-L50E6B is one of Panasonic’s cheaper sets this year, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at it. It looks very similar to the rest of the LCD range, with its slim silver bezel and rectangular stand.

The stand doesn’t swivel, making it a little tricky to place. And it’s pretty much a no-go if you want to hang it on the wall, as all three HDMI ports face backwards.

Better thought out is the smart TV offering. The My Home Screen layout is innovative and easy to use, with its customisation options a nice touch. But with only Netflix and iPlayer as its big-name movie and catch-up services, it could do with more apps to rival the likes of Samsung’s Smart Hub.

There’s a Freeview HD tuner, but no satellite input. Other connections include a SCART connector, an optical digital out, component and composite video inputs, a headphone jack, two USB ports and an ethernet port. Wi-Fi is also built-in, so your TV doesn’t need to be near your router.

It might be one of Panasonic’s cheaper sets, but the TX-L50E6B is still among the most expensive on test. And there’s no 3D — this is the only TV here without it.

No 3D, but 2D pictures are great

Of course, 3D isn’t for everyone and plenty won’t miss it as long as the 2D picture is up to scratch. And, happily, Panasonic has done a great job, with a bright, detailed impressive picture showing a Blu-ray of Toy Story 3.

Edges are well defined and colours are reproduced naturally with depth and accuracy. Black levels are commendable too, reaching deep for dark scenes, while keeping a strong hold on shadow detail.

Contrast is well handled, and blacks don’t suffer when in a scene alongside much brighter elements. There was a little backlight inconsistency in our sample, which became evident when the screen was blank, but we didn’t find it affected our viewing too much, even in dark scenes.

Motion doesn’t fluster the Panasonic either. It copes as well with slow-panning landscape shots as it does with fast action.

The Achilles’ heel of this TV is its sound — thin and altogether unconvincing as a standalone proposition. You should consider a soundbar at the very least.

If you don’t care for 3D there’s plenty here to like — its fine 2D picture in particular — but there are TVs out there that give you more for less.

Panasonic TX-L50E6B £850 ★★★★

Screen size 50in • Type LCD • Resolution 1920 x 1080 • Full HD Yes • 3D No • Tuner Freeview HD • Inputs HDMI x3, component, Scart, composite, USB x2 • Smart TV Yes • Dimensions (hwd) 71 x 112 x 27cm • Weight 20.5kg

Rating ★★★★

FOR: Excellent 2D picture, great black levels, good motion handling, great contrast

AGAINST: Poor sound; no 3D; app selection

VERDICT: There’s no 3D, but if it’s an excellent 2D set you’re looking for, this Panasonic is certainly one to consider

Smart control app

Viera Remote 2 app iOS/Android ★★★★★

This is one of the better companion apps out there and well worth a download. Alongside the usual remote control features, it also includes handy extras such as the ability to use your phone’s keyboard instead of the one on-screen for fast text inputting and internet browsing.

Send content to your TV.

Most interesting, though, is the Swipe and Share feature, which allows you to share content between your phone and TV using a simple swipe gesture. It works well, taking just a few seconds to ‘throw’ a video from our iPhone and have it play on the TV. Gimmicky, maybe, but a great, simple way to show off your mobile pictures and videos on a bigger screen.

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