Design & Features
Shades of Gray
Panasonic's ET5S is easy on the eye, although there's nothing really significant about its design either. The elegant display features a dark gray bezel with a transparent acrylic border, something similar to Samsung's Crystal Design when it was unveiled years ago. Panasonic's usage of edge LEDs also ensures the ET5S maintains a relatively slim profile with an average depth of 40mm, although it bulges up to 52mm at its thickest point. And as with most LED-based models, the screen is relatively glossy, but not overly reflective under the ambient lights. The silver-gray plastic base is equally nondescript, compared to more recent and flamboyant offerings like Samsung's Arc-Flow and LG's Ribbon stands found on their premium models. On the upside, Panasonic's pedestal stand offers a fair amount of stability to the 47-inch panel, plus it allows the screen to swivel as well. Interestingly, the TV's rather bulky built-in wireless adapter isn't integrated within the panel, but lies exposed behind the display (see image below).
Ports are aligned either by the side or in a downward-facing orientation behind the panel. The downward ports consist of an RF antenna terminal, optical audio output, VGA inlet, plus component and composite inputs. Breakout cables are provided for both analog jacks since Panasonic uses a proprietary configuration. The side panel features a formidable array of digital slots, including three USB and four HDMI 1.4a ports. As with Panasonic's ongoing tradition for their Viera range, you'll find an SD Card slot on the ET5S, compliant up to the SDXC format with a maximum capacity of 64GB. If you're planning to use the bundled pedestal stand, note that eight screws are required to fasten the panel - four for the base, and another four for the panel.
The remote (model:N2QAYB) looks very much like last year's model with little changes made. It still brandishes the same conservative design. However, the concisely labelled buttons and grip-friendly size does redeem it somewhat. Controls for Viera Link are located below, while dedicated buttons for 3D mode and Viera Connect (labelled as 'Internet' on the remote) are available on the wand as well.
Unfortunately, the ET5S was unable to reach Panasonic's server via our office network with a returned error code of 005. We've tried both wired and wireless connections to no avail. Manually updating the firmware via an SD Card to version 2219 didn't help either. According to Panasonic's tech support personnel, the issue probably lies with our network settings. However, we find it odd that the TV's network tests didn't produce an error when tried on both LAN and WLAN. Anyhow, we understand from the Japanese firm that little changes have been made to 2012's edition of Viera Connect, so there's little loss in this aspect. You may check out our reviews on previous Panasonic sets like the VT30S if you'd like to read up more on the Viera Connect platform.
Panasonic's Viera Remote app failed to detect the ET5S during our first few attempts, but it worked the next day for some reason. This touch-and-go characteristic can be annoyance if it surfaces time and again. Anyhow, there are a few basic attributes found on the app, such as the volume and channel controls which will come in handy should you lose the primary remote. Conversely, other features such as Cursor, Keyboard, Gamepad, as well as the 'tap-and-flick' option for media files are undoubtedly helpful, especially for users managing Smart TV attributes on the ET5S. Although most of its functions delivered as promised, Panasonic's DLNA-based Viera Remote is still very much dependent on your home wireless network, as compared to more convenient peer-to-peer transfer protocols such as Wi-Fi Direct available on rival TV sets. As an added note, ensure you've enabled the TV's DLNA and Network Remote features before attempting to use the app on your smartphone or tablet. Viera Remote is available on Google Play and iTunes.
The ET5 carries fewer picture presets, compared to Panasonic's THX-certified displays with professional ISFccc calibration adjustments. Basic options such as Dynamic, Normal, Cinema, True Cinema, and Game selections are available under Viewing Mode. As usual, the Dynamic preset offers exaggerated contrast and sharpness values for brightly-lit rooms, while the Normal mode is more ideal for viewing environments with softer ambient lighting. Unlike the Cinema mode tuned for darkened rooms, True Cinema aims to replicate the source's original picture quality with minimal adjustments, besides applying 24p compensation for film-based Blu-ray sources. Film Cadence Detection is also available with interlaced sources, except when used with the Game picture preset. This TV has a maximum refresh rate of 300Hz with backlight scanning enabled to eradicate motion blur. It can be triggered by setting Motion Picture Pro to 'Max'. Also note that advanced options like White Balance and Gamma need to be enabled via the Setup menu before they appear under the Advanced Settings - a bit of a trouble, but it's a one-time setup option if you need to tweak image quality settings to your heart's content.