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Panasonic Viera TC-L47E5 LED TV Review

47 in.

The L47E5 fails to perform alongside Panasonic's same-price plasmas.

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Overview

The Panasonic Viera TC-L47E5 (MSRP $799) is a mid-range LED from 2012. It was one of the more basic LCD-backlit TVs to be released by Panasonic last year, and has only a few of the features found on their flagship model, the WT50. We expect similar performance to Panasonic's E50 series, albeit with no built in 3D tech to test.

For $800, a 47-inch TV this average feels like kind of a ripoff. We've long felt that Panasonic's strength lies with their plasma TVs, and the E5 is a testament to that: not a bad product overall, but not a good one either. We tested decent, above average color adherence and a pretty good horizontal viewing angle, yet the usual maladies and malingerers were also present: poor speaker output, a "meh" contrast ratio, and an entirely lackluster design.

The Panasonic Viera TC-L47E5 is not overpriced. It does what it should, and has no glaring drawbacks. If you just want a low-end TV from a high-end name like Panasonic, the E5 might be a good buy, but we think there are a few too many Cs on this report card to highly recommend this TV. Go for one of Panasonic's excellent plasmas instead.

Hardware

An understated, frills-free design that focuses on usability

An easy-to-use product that's well-labeled and smartly built. Tweet It

There's nothing terribly interesting about the E5's design. Its rectangular stand and thin-bezeled panel are modern and, in some ways, unique to Panasonic. Regardless, don't purchase one under the impression that you'll be wowing anyone with its appearance. As far as usability goes, expect to find well-labeled ports and controls, as everything about this TV is geared to be as user friendly as possible.

Low-end HDTVs should be simple and dressed down, as with the E5's straightforward design; a less complicated television lends a higher degree of usability and familiarity than you'll find on a frills-heavy, high-end TV. You won't find any gesture or voice commands, infrared remotes, or button-less touch controls here. What you will find is an easy-to-use product that's well-labeled and smartly built. The glitz of all new products eventually fades, and you might be happier in the long term with something plain and simple like this.

Picture Quality

A passable performance that will likely disappoint

The E5 series is almost at the "bottom of the barrel" when taking Panasonic's 2012 LCD line-up into consideration. While its price point would suggest passable performance—and that's basically what you get—we didn't go into testing the E5 with high expectations. Even still, this TV's core performance is decent. We tested fairly impressive color adherence, including an especially vigilant color temperature. However, the E5's overall color accuracy—designated by its color gamut—should be better. Colors won't be quite as rich and varied as they would be on more expensive models.

The E5's overall color accuracy should be better. Tweet It

As for contrast (black and white) performance, the E5 will probably disappoint picture purists. Its black level was much too bright to create realistic night scenes, for example. While it's bright enough to get a passable contrast ratio, the final tally here is one that wholly underwhelms. The straw that breaks the camel's back is motion performance, though. We saw some very blurry objects in motion, mild color trailing during high-contrast movement, and even greyscale shifting in moving areas of high bands. This TV's performance is bargain bin, and it wouldn't be a wise purchase if you're at all interested in the integrity of what you're watching.

Software

It says "smart TV" on the box, but the box is misleading.

Panasonic gives user access to as many toggles and sub-menus as possible. Tweet It

The Panasonic Viera TC-L47E5 purports to be a smart TV, and it is, but not in the same vein as Panasonic's higher-end models. This ethernet-ready LCD requires the separate purchase of a Panasonic wireless adapter in order to connect to a Wi-Fi source, for one, and its internet options are not the full Viera Connect platform. Instead, it offers users a somewhat paltry selection of the usual blue-chip apps: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and VUDU. It's up to the individual if that's all you need, but anyone with an Xbox 360, PS3, or Roku box already has those apps and more at their disposal. On the other hand, those are also the most commonly desired features of a smart TV, so this could be a perfect offering in certain circumstances.

As for its basic menu software... it's pretty basic. We like Panasonic's layout: the semi-opaque menus and big, easy to ready lettering make for simple and aesthetically unoffensive settings adjustment. Like Sony, the other big TV manufacturer from Japan, Panasonic likes to give users access to as many toggles and sub-menus as possible. This may be a turn-off to most Americans, but TV lovers will be glad to know they have the option to adjust every little jot and tittle of their E5's picture and processing.

Final Thoughts

This TV is not worth purchasing.

Its design, simplified but usable smart features, and relatively low-end price of $800 make it attractive on paper, but it lacks the full feature set of higher-end models that would make its performance mishaps more forgivable. While the E5 makes a great choice for a small to mid-size room due to its wider-than-average viewing angle, the audio it delivers will make group movie night an ear-straining affair.

The E5's biggest problem is its actual performance, though. This LCD would make a particularly poor choice for film buffs or gamers, as its motion and black levels are lacking. While it's bright enough to deliver a decent contrast ratio, you're just barely putting under par (see the Science section for more details), and despite the lack of any major flaws, you're not getting anything great out of this product. The bottom line is that Panasonic's same-price plasmas are much better performers, and are just as slick and usable. There's no reason to buy the TC-L47E5, unless you find it at a serious discount.

Users are better off buying the identically priced Panasonic P50U50, or a much cheaper LCD from a budget brand.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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