Panasonic VIERA WT50A 3D LED TV
For the first time, Panasonic’s top VIERA uses a LED panel
- Excellent power consumption figures
- Great detail from Blu-ray video
- Excellent brightness and contrast
- Can’t beat plasma black levels
- High price
Panasonic’s touting the WT50A as its best television, and in some ways that’s true - it’s definitely the best design we’ve seen, and is very efficient. It’s not the picture quality superstar that the VT50A and ST50A plasmas are, though, even though it’s able to show good detail from high quality content.
Price$ 2,849.00 (AUD)
Panasonic has traditionally pushed its VIERA plasmas as the best of the best, but this year marks a big shift for the Japanese manufacturer — it’s winding down plasma production and moving towards more efficient and environmentally friendly LED TVs.
Although the plasmas aren’t dead yet, the WT50A LED is the first Panasonic TV we’ve seen that’s intended to rival them with features, picture quality and design.
Panasonic VIERA WT50A: Design and setup
Panasonic doesn’t have the most illustrious history when it comes to television design — it’s definitely no Samsung or Sony, with a string of relatively thick-bezeled plasmas and LCDs with largely interchangeable plastic finishes.
The has brought the line-up kicking and screaming into the new decade, but we’re genuinely impressed with the design and the build quality of the WT50A. The crescent stand is constructed of thick, strong plastic, and the finish is an attractive silver.
The black bezel that surrounds the LCD screen, hiding the edge LED lights, is around a centimetre thick on all sides. There’s also a translucent strip (with Panasonic logo) that runs below the lower bezel. The rest of the TV is taken up by the display, which is somewhat reflective but not debilitatingly so — the screen will still act as a mirror for any bright light sources that are directly in front of it though, so we’d recommend heavy curtains on any windows in your viewing area.
The Panasonic VIERA WT50A matches the VT50A for video input connection options, as befits a premium TV. Four HDMI ports, three USB 3.0 inputs, a shared composite/component break-out, analog VGA for PC use, digital audio output, Ethernet network and integrated Wi-Fi — everything you’d expect to find is here. Like other high-end Panasonics, the WT50A has integrated Bluetooth which can be used to connect wireless keyboards and mice to help with the Web browser and integrated social media features.
Setting up the WT50A is easy. The stand is simple and secures well — we’ve already praised Panasonic for this in the VT50A review — and everything fits together easily. Once you’ve got the TV assembled, and have connected power and antenna cables, the initial power-on setup procedure prompts you to scan for digital and/or analogue TV channels, and to connect the TV to a wired or wireless network. After that — a total procedure of around three minutes if you’re quick to hit the Next button — you’re ready to go.
Panasonic VIERA WT50A: Picture quality and performance
We tested the Panasonic VIERA WT50A with Samsung BD-E5900 and Panasonic DMR-PWT520 Blu-ray players, playing The Dark Knight, Terminator: Salvation, Avatar 3D and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 3D. We also ran some synthetic geometry and picture quality tests using the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark Blu-ray.
You can buy the VIERA WT50A in 47in and 55in sizes. Part of Panasonic’s move from plasma to LED is possible because of the newfound availability of larger LED-backlit LCD screens, so we’re surprised that there are no models larger than 55in available.
The VIERA WT50A performs in the same league as other high-end, edge-lit LED TVs like the Samsung Series 8 and the LG LM8600. It’s got excellent picture quality generally, which can be best seen when you’re feeding it with the best possible quality video.
Avatar flatters the Panasonic WT50A, with the mid-movie jungle scenes incredibly vibrant with extreme levels of colour detail in the True Cinema preset, which is the best default mode available. In fact, the majority of the preset settings and video options in True Cinema are as good as the TV gets — while still remaining bright enough to look good in a well-lit room, the TV has a wide dynamic range with plenty of highlight and shadow detail,
The opening space scene of the Avatar movie, along with night-time in The Dark Knight, does expose the one technical weakness of the VIERA WT50A. When there’s a lot of bright content on-screen, the dynamic backlight adjustment does tend to accomodate this and leave some black areas looking slightly too bright and slightly grey.
This is a minor complaint, though #&8212; it’s largely unnoticeable during regular viewing, and is only detrimental in specific scenes like the rolling end credits of movies. This is also a problem that’s not specific to the WT50A — it occurs on almost all LED and LCD TVs. Outright black levels are where the WT50A is weakest, like most LEDs. It’s handily traded off against the excellent detail resolution, vibrant colour and good default settings in True Cinema mode.
Since this particular VIERA is a LED TV, it’s better suited to bright viewing environments than a plasma. It’s able to produce an exceptionally bright picture while still maintaining reasonable black level performance — if you’ve got an especially well-lit living room or office space, for example, we’d recommend the WT50A alongside the LG LM9600 and Samsung Series 8 as some of the best TVs you could buy.
The WT50A does an excellent job of upscaling lower-resolution content alongside its 1080p Blu-ray forte. We tested half a dozen videos in 480p and 720p resolutions and found they were among the best we’ve seen on a large, modern screen — no detail is lost and some smart contextual sharpening does a good job of making years-old DVDs look more attractive than they deserve.
3D is similar to Panasonic's other 2012 VIERAs. It's much improved over previous models, with only a small amount of cross-talk visible in the fastest-moving and most difficult scenes. The bundled glasses are lighter and less distracting, although they still pick up flicker from overhead fluorescent lights (as all active 3D systems will).
Power consumption isn’t something we generally test with televisions, beyond expecting plasmas to consume considerably more energy than LED TVs of a comparable size. We dug out the power meter for the VIERA WT50A though, and found that its average power usage hovered around the 80W mark in our True Cinema preset. This is a seriously low figure — our three-year-old Pioneer KURO benchmark TV can hit 500W at times. If you’re looking for an efficient TV, looking exclusively at LEDs is a smart choice, but the Panasonic WT50A is well deserving of its high seven-star energy rating.
Panasonic VIERA WT50A: VIERA Connect
Our observations from the VIERA ST50A, VIERA VT50A and DMR-PWT520 hold true here - Panasonic’s VIERA Connect Internet service is good, with easy navigation and the best video on demand services (ABC iView, YouTube). It’s just not as good as competing Smart TV services from Samsung and LG, and to a lesser extent Sony.
For a full run-down of the VIERA WT50A’s Smart TV features, hit the links above.
Panasonic VIERA WT50A: Conclusion
Panasonic has certainly taken strides forwards into the LED TV space with the WT50A. It’s got excellent picture quality bar one minor problem in the high black level, and the design and features are up there with other high-end models from competing brands.
We think the biggest competion for the WT50A will come from within Panasonic, with the company’s excellent 2012 VIERA plasmas still our top pick for this year.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 2 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 3 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 4 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung's squashing of malicious Tizen smart TV bugs is turning messy
- Report says Samsung's Tizen OS on smart TVs is a virtual playground for hackers
- Hisense displays successors to amazing Series 7 ULED - Series 8 and 9
- Sony shows off its new OLED and LCD TVs, video projector, and Bluetooth speakers
- Sony’s Bravia XBR-A1E OLED could be the first flat-screen TV with sound that doesn’t suck
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Huawei P10 smartphone review
- Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTSolution Architect - SecurityVIC
- TPSenior Business Systems AnalystQLD
- CCSAP ISU Functional ConsultantVIC
- TPDigital ProducerVIC
- FTBusiness AnalystACT
- FTNodeJS and AngularJS DeveloperQLD
- FTSenior Procurement Specialist -| 3mth ContracVIC
- FTIT Field Services ManagerNSW
- CCTesting Manager - Energy sectorVIC
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTResearch Officer / Data Scientist .Work Location- ACTACT
- FTSolution Architect l MS Exchange, O365NSW
- CCTechnical Specialist - Cloud ServicesVIC
- FTLearning & Development Consultant, Wealth ManagementNSW
- FTDatabase Engineer (Oracle)ACT
- TPBI ConsultantNSW
- FTSenior Digital Developer - SitecoreQLD
- CCMaster Data Officer - SAPNSW
- TPSoftware Engineer / DeveloperQLD
- FTCustomer Account Officers x3NSW
- CCData Warehouse Solution DesignersACT
- FTSecurity Dev Ops and Java DeveloperVIC
- FTWireless Networking ConsultantNSW
- CCProcess Improvement Specialist - TelcoVIC