Panasonic TC-L55ET5

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

Panasonic’s TC-L55ET5 comes with a 55-inch display that can show up to 1080p resolution. The set comes with 178 degrees of viewing angles and an IPS LED LCD panel. Most of Panasonic’s TVs for 2012 come with active 3D but the L55ET5 features passive 3D which requires dedicated eyewear. The 3D also has 2D-3D conversion. The audio is provided by two speakers on the bottom that are putting out 10 watts of power each. For connectivity the TV features 4 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports and several RCA inputs. There is also an SD card slot and a PC hookup. Wi-Fi internet is available or connecting through the ethernet port. Using VIERA Link users can grab apps like Netflix and Flickr. Web browsing is also available.

Features List:

– 55-inch display

– 1080p resolution

– Passive 3D

– 4 HDMI, 2 USB

– SD card slot, RCA inputs, PC hookup

– Wi-Fi, Ethernet internet

– VIERA Link

– 2 x 10 watt speakers

– Web apps, Browsing

Digital Trends’ Television Buying Tips:

What resolution do I need?

All consumer HDTVs break down into either 720p or 1080p resolution, which represents the number of horizontal lines in the display. More is obviously better here, but at small screen sizes – like 32 inches – many people find it hard to distinguish the benefit of 1080p resolution. As our guide to screen size points out, viewing distance can also play a factor: The closer you sit, the more you’ll appreciate higher resolution. In general, many people start to see an obvious difference between 1080p and 720p as screens sized 40 inches and up.

Also take into account that much of the content available today doesn’t take advantage of full 1080p resolution. Many shows still broadcast in 720p or 1080i. Technically only Blu-ray discs and digital, non-video sources (like a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or PC hooked up to the TV), really offer true 1080p content. This makes 1080p a no-brainer if you want to play Mass Effect 2 with the most detail and watch Star Trek on Blu-ray, but less essential if you just play to watch standard over-the-air broadcast material.

LCD or Plasma?

Debating between LCD or plasma can almost get as subjective as debating between chocolate and vanilla. But unlike the never-ending ice cream debate, there actually is a superior TV choice, depending on how you plan to use it.

Check out some of our previous guides on the subject to get a better look, but in short, plasmas use more electricity, come in bigger sizes, have deeper blacks, don’t suffer from motion blur, and offer an unlimited viewing angle that’s best for off-axis viewing. LCDs are more energy-efficient, have fewer problems with glare due to their matte screens, can hold an image for hours or days without suffering “burn-in,” and generally look brighter.

After deciding which format to go with, our LCD and Plasma HDTV buying guides can help you with more questions specific to your type of TV.

What is a LED backlighting?

Traditionally, LCD TVs have used compact fluorescent (CFL) tubes placed behind an LCD panel to provide the backlighting that literally lights up the screen. More modern LED TVs replace these tubes with clusters of light emitting diodes – LEDs.

When LEDs are placed at the edges of the screen, as CFL tubes traditionally were, TVs can be made significantly thinner, and LEDs use less power than fluorescents. The most inexpensive LED-lit HDTVs take this approach.

However, the biggest advantage to using LEDs is realized when they light the screen in a grid from behind. Sophisticated electronics vary the intensity of every LED in accordance with action on the screen, making dark areas of the image darker, and bright areas brighter. This effectively increases the contrast ratio compared to uniform lighting. Although it also increases costs, many people believe this type of LCD is the first to truly rival plasma on black levels.

Read more about LED backlighting and the differences between both techniques in our guide to understanding LED backlighting.

What inputs should I look for?

A final consideration when buying a new HDTV is what you can connect to it. Make sure there are ample HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) ports to connect multiple components, such as a cable/satellite receiver, video game consoles, DVD/Blu-ray player, camcorder, and so on. At least three or four such ports is a must. A convenient bonus is when the TV also offers a USB port to connect a Flash thumb-drive or external hard drive full of music, photos and videos, or a SD or Memory Stick card slot that lets you insert a compatible card that contains photos and videos. If you think you’d like to connect your computer to the television for big-screen web surfing, look for one with PC connectivity. Many TVs today offer these additional features.

What are widgets?

Many of the top television manufacturers – including Sony, Sharp, Panasonic and Samsung – include Ethernet jacks on the back of their premium televisions for high-speed Internet connectivity (or in some cases, have integrated Wi-Fi for wireless connections). TV viewers will then use the remote to select “widgets,” graphicalicons on the screen that plays relevant (and customized) content ranging from YouTube videos and Flickr photo galleries to local weather, news, sports updates and stock quotes, usually delivered by Really Simple Syndication (RSS). Even more exciting is the partnership between Netflix and various TV companies, such as LG and Sony, allowingtelevision viewers to access tens of thousands of movies on-demand, many of which are in high-definition.

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