And then there’s the brightness uniformity, another issue common to edge-lit LED LCDs. With a full white test pattern, there’s noticeable drop-off of brightness toward the edges of the screen, though you don’t often notice this with regular content. However, the black field uniformity is notably sub-par, with significant light leakage from the edges. Instead of a solid black(ish) image, some areas of the screen look noticeably brighter than others. This is especially apparent when you’re watching a letter-boxed movie, as the black bars aren’t one consistent brightness level across the screen. These uniformity issues tend to be random across different units, so it’s possible that another L55WT50 would have less of an issue, but it’s just as possible that another would have the same or more.
Playing the Planetside 2 beta (it’s awesome), the L55WT50 showed its strengths and weaknesses. During the in-game daytime, the colorful and epic battlefields looked detailed and spectacular. As the world shifts to night, however, the muddled grays sapped the splendor from what should have been amazing visuals.
But the real verdict came down when I watched Titanic on Blu-ray 3D. The 3D effect itself, via the lightweight TY-ER3D4MU Bluetooth glasses ($79, not included) is actually better than when I saw the movie in the theater. (Yep, that’s right, I paid to see Titanic for a third time in the theater, and suffered through 3D for the privilege.) There was convincing depth and no visible crosstalk. In this way, it’s better than the VT50.
I think a large part of the L55WT50’s above-average performance with 3D is due to its excellent light output. Daytime scenes looked great, with accurate, vibrant colors. The detail in faces, especially in Captain Smith’s beard, was notable. However, as expected, night scenes didn’t fare as well. Blacks looked gray at best, even with the TV set to its lower backlight settings. The result was an overall disappointing image.
There’s a lot to like about Panasonic’s TC-L55WT50 LCD. It has a bright picture with accurate color, the 3D image looks quite good, it has a wide viewing angle, it’s wafer-thin, and it sips electricity modestly. However, the less-than-stellar contrast ratio ultimately gets in the way of what is otherwise a decent picture. I understand why some people choose LCDs over plasmas, but in this case, I think Panasonic’s own (and S+V Certified & Recommended) TC-P55VT50 plasma is a better option.
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