Panasonic WT50 Lightning Review: A TV This Expensive Should Be Better

Illustration for article titled Panasonic WT50 Lightning Review: A TV This Expensive Should Be Better

Between Samsung's gorgeous OLED and Sony's sweet 4K, 2012 is shaping up to be a year of massive resolution sets with equally huge price tags. Unfortunately, Panasonic's newest flagship LED only gets the price part right.

What Is It?

Panasonic's $3,000 flagship 55-inch LED television.

Who's it For?

People who have a good bit of money and need LED brightness to compensate for a bright living room.



A sleek combination of glass and metal with barely a centimeter of black bezel flowing around the screen. The Flying V stand is slick, reminiscent of a TV antenna on 1980s limo.

Using It

At 40 pounds, the WT50 only needs one person for tabletop installation. Its initial setup was virtually identical to that of the Panasonic VT50, which is to say, pretty much automatic.


The Best Part

The WT50 has one of the broadest viewing angles in its class (178 degrees). You'll see less image degradation even when watching from outside the central sweet spot.


Tragic Flaw

Compared to the VT50's color reproduction and black levels, the WT50's performance in those categories just isn't up to snuff—just washed out at any angle. The LG Cinema 3D produced deeper blacks, even with its glare issues.


This Is Weird...

Picture actually looks better when viewed from a sharp angle, rather than head-on.


Test Notes

  • Panasonic's Viera Connect system used to be a clunky afterthought—"might as well throw in a web browser fer lulz"—and now, with some substantial UI improvements and a bunch of new features, it's a slick, responsive, gigantic Internet portal.
  • Includes the Smart Remote for easier web browsing.
  • Uses USB-charged Active Shutter glasses.
  • Handles moderate amounts of glare with aplomb.
  • Attention to detail is fantastic. If you want, you can even toggle the brand logo's back light and startup banner.
  • While not activated during testing (the testing process uses the baseline features), settings like AI Picture, CATS, and Video NR can help boost color output.

Should You Buy It?

Probably not. The WT50's picture quality simply isn't good enough to warrant the $3000 price tag, especially not when you can get a comparable plasma-based model, the VT50, for $2400.


Panasonic WT50 3D LED TV Specs

• Screen Size: 55 inches
• Display Type: 3D LED-LCD
• Glasses Type: Active Shutter (sold separately)
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI, 2 USB, Component, Composite, Wi-Fi, BlueTooth
• Weight: 33.1 pounds without stand
• Price: $3000 MSRP
• Gizrank: 3 Stars


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When I first read about this TV 6 months ago everyone was praising it viewing angles, contrast and motion handling. That's crazy that Panasonic has fumbled somewhere in between pre-production and post.

Might as well go Plasma for half the cost if you are susceptible to or annoyed by dithering.