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Panasonic TC-L42E60 42-inch Smart Viera LED/LCD TV Review

Style and Substance at a Great Price

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Panasonic TC-L42E60 Smart Viera LED/LCD TV - Photo - Front View

Photo of the front view of the Panasonic TC-L42E60 Smart Viera LED/LCD TV

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Panasonic TC-L42E60 Smart Viera LED/LCD TV - Photo - Front View - Home Screen

Photo of the front view of the Panasonic TC-L42E60 Smart Viera LED/LCD TV Home Screen

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Panasonic TC-L42E60 Smart Viera LED/LCD TV - Photo - Front View - Web Search

Photo of the front view of the Panasonic TC-L42E60 Smart Viera LED/LCD TV Web Search

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The Panasonic TC-L42E60 is a 1080p 42-inch LCD TV that incorporates a stylish edge-to-edge screen design, a thin physical profile, as well as eco-friendly power consumption.

 

Connections are provided for Blu-ray Disc/DVD players, as well as other digital and analog video sources, as well as 2 USB ports for accessing audio, video, and still image files stored on flash drives. In addition, Ethernet and WiFi connection options are provided for network/internet access, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, so keep on reading to find out if this TV is right for you.

Product Overview

Features of the Panasonic TC-L42E60 include:

1. 42-Inch LCD TV with LED Edge-lit LCD panel.

2. 1920x1080 (1080p) native pixel resolution, 1080p video upscaling/processing for all non-1080p input sources as well as native 1080p input capability.

3. 120Hz Screen Refresh Rate augmented by Backlight Scanning for a 240Hz-like motion response effect.

4. High Definition Compatible Inputs: Three HDMI, One set of Component video inputs.

5. Standard Definition-Only Inputs: One Composite video (combined with the component video inputs - you cannot connect both a composite and component video sources to the TV at the same time).

6. One set of Analog stereo inputs (paired with the component and composite video inputs).

7. Audio Outputs: One Digital Optical. Also, HDMI input 2 can also output audio via the Audio Return Channel feature. There are no analog audio outputs on the TC-L42E60.

8. Built-in stereo speaker system (10 watts x 2) for use in lieu of the outputting audio to an external audio system (However, connecting to an external audio system is highly recommended).

9. 2 USB ports for access to audio, video, and still image files stored on flash drives.

10. On-board Ethernet port for wired internet/home network connection. Network/Internet access via Wifi connection option is also provided.

11. ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners for reception of over-the-air and unscrambled high definition/standard definition digital cable signals.

12. VieraLink for remote control via HDMI of HDMI-CEC compatible devices.

13. Wireless Infrared Remote Control included.

14. Energy Star rated. Average power consumption: 74 watts (varies depending on what features are in use).

15. Additional features:

My Home Screen - Enables each member of your household to create a customized home screen, using several types of templates, with an easy-to-use menu that displays your favorite or most-used features on content categories.

Viera Connect - Access to audio and video streaming sources via downloadable apps from the Viera Connect Market

DLNA Server - DLNA certification allows access to audio, video, and still image content stored on network connected devices, such as PC or media server.

Web Browser - The ability to use either the provided remote control/virtual onscreen keyboard, or connect a compatible USB keyboard to surf the internet in a similar fashion as a PC or MAC. HTML 5 compatible.

Skype on TV - Provides the ability for users, via connection of an optional compatible Webcam to make Skype video phone calls using the TV.

Swipe and Share - Provides the ability for users to transfer audio, video, and still image content back and forth between the TV screen and compatible wireless networked mobile devices (iOS 5.0.01 and Android 4.0 or later) - also requires installation of the Viera Remote 2 app (iOS version - Android version) installed on the mobile device.

Voice Guidance - A verbal female voice can be activate to guide you through basic TV functions such volume, channel scanning, input selection, and menu settings. Available in English, French, or Spanish.

Additional home theater components used in this review included:

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705 (used in 5.1 channel mode)

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System: Fluance XL Series 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System (on review loan).

DVDO EDGE Video Scaler used for baseline video upscaling comparisons.

Darblet Model DVP 5000 Video Processor used for added observations.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona for this review.

 

Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and Additional Content Sources Used In This Review

Blu-ray Discs: Battleship, Ben Hur, Brave, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Oz The Great and Powerful, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Dark Knight Rises.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

Netflix, Audio and Video files stored on USB flash drives, and PC hard drive.

Video Performance

I found the Panasonic TC-L42E60 be a very good performer. Despite the use of LED Edge Lighting, the black levels were pretty even across the screen, even in dark scenes. In other words, there was no visible white blotching on the screen and only slightly visible "spotlighting" on the screen corners (blotching and spotlighting can be a problem on LCD TVs that use LED-edge lighting).

Color saturation and detail were excellent with high definition source material, such as Blu-ray Discs. Standard definition analog video sources (analog cable, internet streaming, composite video input sources) were noticeably soft, but edge artifacts were minimal.

The 120Hz screen refresh rate, supported by blacklight scanning, provides smooth motion response, although the degree of the enhancement used can result in the "Soap Opera Effect", which is distracting when viewing film-based content. On the other hand, this effect also adds an element of depth that is very good for a non-3D viewing experience.

The "Motion Picture Setting", which controls the degree of motion compensation, can be limited or disabled, which is preferable for film-based content. I would suggest that you experiment with the setting options with different types of content and see what setting works best for your viewing preferences.

For a more detailed look at the video processing performance of the TC-L42E60, most notably with regards to artifact suppression and upscaling of standard definition source content, check out a sampling of Video Performance Test Results.

Audio Performance

The Panasonic TC-L42E60 provides basic audio settings, but the sound quality is just fair, if that. I found that although the sound was intelligible, I did have to up the volume quite a bit in order to get a decent sound volume in my 15x20 foot room.

One interesting way that Panasonic has tried to improve the audio quality of the onboard speaker system is to provide a setting that compensation for clarity for when the TV is directly mounted on a wall, as opposed to its included stand.

However, for the best listening experience to complement TV viewing with TC-L42E60, like most LCD and Plasma TVs, especially for watching movies, the addition of an external audio system with a home theater receiver and 5.1 or 7.1 channel speaker system delivers the best complementary listening experience. However, if that is not your preference, then at least consider a modest sound bar, paired with small subwoofer.

In addition to its core TV viewing functions, Panasonic also includes the ability to access and streaming programming content from both the internet, home network, and other compatible devices.

 

Viera Connect

Viera Connect allows you to access content from the internet. Using the Viera Connect menu, you can access an abundance of internet streaming content. Some of the accessible services and sites include: Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, HuluPlus, YouTube.

In addition to content services, Panasonic also includes access to online social-media services, such as Facebook and Twitter, and also provides (with the addition of an optional compatible webcam, the ability to make video phone calls via Skype.

Also, access to more content and media sharing apps can be added via the VieraConnect Market. Some of the apps are free, and some require a small fee or the app may be free, but the associated service may require an ongoing paid subscription.

With regards to video streaming, there is a lot of variation in the video quality of the streamed content, ranging from low-res compressed video that is hard to watch on a large screen to high-def video feeds that look more like DVD quality or slightly better. However, although 1080p content streamed from the internet can look pretty good, it does not look as good as 1080p content accessed directly from a Blu-ray Disc.

For the best streaming content viewing experience, high-speed internet connection is required. In addition, using the wired (ethernet) connection option provides a more stable signal in most cases. However, the wireless (WiFi) internet connection options is more convenient, especially if your router is some distance away from the TV. On the hand, if you find that the Wifi option does not provide a stable signal, using a long ethernet cable may still be the best connection option.

 

DLNA and USB

In addition to accessing content from the internet, the TC-L42E60 can also access content from DLNA compatible media servers and PCs connected in the same home network.

For added flexibility, you can also access audio, video, and still image files from USB flash drive-type devices.

I found that accessing and playing content from the network or USB port was easy - however, it is important to note that the TC-L42e60 is not compatible with all digital media file formats (consult the eHelp user guide for details).

Also, I found it interesting is that when you access and display photos from your home network or USB flash drive a default "cocktail lounge" style piano number plays in the background. Depending your musical tastes, this can either sound fine or annoying.

What I Liked About The Panasonic TC-L42E60

1. Very Good Color and detail - fairly even black level response across the screen.

2. Easy to use onscreen menu system - My Home Screen feature adds flexibility and convenience.

3. Viera Connect provides good selection of internet streaming options.

4. Lots of picture adjustment options provided.

5. Picture setting parameters can be set independently for each input source.

6. Thin profile and thin bezel edge-to-edge screen styling.

 

What I Didn't Like About The Panasonic TC-L42E60

1. Can't connect a component and composite video source to the TV at the same time.

2. "Soap Opera" effect when engaging motion picture setting feature can be distracting.

3. Lackluster audio and no analog audio outputs (digital audio output only).

4. Remote Control not backlit.

5. The Panasonic E60 series TVs are not 3D-enabled. If you desire 3D capability in a similar TV, you need to jump to Panasonic's ET60 series LED/LCD TVs.

 

Final Take

 

I must say, that I enjoyed my time with the Panasonic TC-L42E60. It not only provides a very good viewing experience for TV programs and Blu-ray/DVD content, but its abundant internet and network streaming capabilities opens up a lot more entertainment possibilities that can be accessed via the very easy to use customizable menu system. Also, the Swipe-and-Share allows you to stream and transfer content from compatible portable devices right to your TV, and you can even plug in a full-size USB keyboard and surf the web via your TV.

Although the TV is very thin, thanks to its LED Edge system - with the exception of the USB ports, all of the audio and video connections are rear faced. This means that when you stick connection cables in, they stick out to the rear. As a result, when wall mounting, you still need to leave enough space between the TV and the wall to make your cable connections. If the connections faced to the side, you would be able to take advantage if its thing profile and mount the TV closer to the wall.

However, taking all into consideration, the Panasonic TC-L42E60 is a great example of how much can be packed into a 42-inch TV at a very modest $799.99 suggested price, without sacrificing core performance. If you are looking for an affordable LCD TV that has great styling, good picture quality, and lots of features (but don't need 3D capability), then definitely put this set on your list for consideration.

For a closer look at the Panasonic TC-L42E60, also check out my Photo Profile and Video Performance Test Results.

Manufacturer's Site

Also, if you are looking for a set larger than 42-inches, also consider the other three sets in Panasonic's E60 series, the 50-inch TC-L50E60 (Compare Prices), the 58-inch TC-L58E60 (Compare Prices), and the 65-inch TC-L65E60 (Compare Prices).

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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