It’s didn’t take long for me to notice that Panasonic’s new top-shelf LCD TV, the 2013 TC-L4WT60, is a completely different species from the company’s previous LCD models.
The design is decidedly upbeat. The minimal chrome bezel gives you an edge-to-edge picture. The back of the TV is actually painted pearly white. While that’s not a big deal, and I can’t figure out a good reason why it should be so, it does distinguish the TV a little from all the black and gray TVs on the market.
The bottom frame of the TV is filled with a light that shines through an acrylic housing. It’s neat the first time you turn it on, and doesn’t look too bad when you’re watching TV in the daytime or in a lit room, but as soon as you turn the room lights off you realize that light is going to drive you nuts. It can be turned off, but finding the place in the onscreen menu to do that was a bit of a scavenger hunt.
The WT60 model is an edge-lit 3D LED LCD TV, which keeps it pencil thin.
Finally we get to the table mount, which is also a clear acrylic piece. The effect is to make the TV look like it’s floating somewhat, and it does look nice, but it’s also overly large for a 47 inch TV. In fact the base sticks out a full eight inches in the back, which means that if you place this TV on a stand, you won’t be able to push it up against the wall. Also the clear stand means that any cables you have hanging off the TV will be clearly visible. I know it’s a small issue, but I think it’s a poor design compromise.
Aside from the industrial design, Panasonic did a lot of other things differently with this LCD than their 2012 models. The biggest improvement is the move to in-plane switching (ISP) panels with a new phase filter. The combination greatly improves viewing angle as well as enhances contrast. Panasonic also doubled the panel’s backlight scanning which improves motion resolution. A number of smoothing processes also contribute to better pictures from lower-quality internet-based videos such as Netflix or YouTube.
In addition to the panel changes, the WT60 includes Panasonic’s latest smart TV features. The centerpiece of the company’s smart TV approach is the home screen, which includes a customizable menu and a load of streaming apps for music and videos, plus games (you can read more about Panasonic’s smart TV features in my Panasonic ZT60 plasma review here).
This TV also includes a pop-up camera. When not in use, the camera is hidden in the back to allay any fears you might have that someone is watching you 24/7 (they might be anyway, just not from this camera). The camera is used for making Skype video calls, for facial recognition and some games. The facial recognition feature may come in handy if each member of your family wants to create their own custom Home screen, but I can still see that being confusing.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.