Panasonic TX-L32S10B television review

3.5 out of 5
£699

For

Full HD detail, colours, onscreen menus

Against

Sound, rendition of black, some motion blur

Due to go on sale in April, this 32-incher is part of a mind-boggling array of new flat TVs from Panasonic.

Equally at home with both plasma and LCD, the TX-L32S10B uses the latter tech. Surrounding it in the S10 Series is a 37-inch LCD TV along with 42-inch, 46-inch and 50-inch plasmas.

All are saddled with the dreaded "entry-level" moniker, something that usually makes the job of reviewing a rather dull one. Not here; the TX-L32S10B, like its S Series siblings, sports a Full HD 1080p resolution, and plenty more besides.

And with a claimed contrast of 50,000:1, three HDMI inputs, film-like 24p Blu-ray display and a new Viera Image Viewer, and the TX-L32S10B seems anything but entry-level.

That sense carries on as soon as the set is switched on. An all-new immaculate high resolution onscreen menu pops-up and immediately starts tuning in Freeview TV channels.

The most impressive is the "Viera Tools" button, which offers a choice of kick-starting Viera Link (i.e., using your remote to control an attached Blu-ray player), pausing live TV (if you have a Panasonic "Diga" PVR attached) or starting a video, music or photo session from media stored on SD Card. Not many TVs can do the latter, though on the TX-L32S10B it is in place of a USB input.

The Viera Image Viewer software itself is impressive in its simplicity, giving one-touch access to JPEG slideshows that load immediately and play over around 20 seconds of pre-recorded, rather ponderous music that sadly can’t be replaced by your own MP3s. If the absence of music is irritating, so is the movie player, which doesn’t support DivX or any other file type we tried. It’s compatible with AVCHD video, a high-def format many HD camcorders shoot in; if you haven’t got a HD camcorder, you can overlook this feature.

But its lack of file support isn’t what officially relegates this Full HD resolution LCD TV to the entry-level ranks. The TX-L32S10B uses last year’s technology, employing Panasonic’s V-Real Pro 3 picture processing, missing out on the brand’s latest 100Hz or Intelligent Frame Creation.

Those two features are designed to reduce judder and blur in the picture, and their absence here is a worry.

Spin a Blu-ray disc, however, and the detail on show is quite something: concise and almost eerily realistic. Some of that effect is lost when the subject moves quickly – the fur on a polar bear, from our test disc Earth, does suffer slightly from blur, but it’s not as big a drawback as on other entry-level sets. The TX-L32S10B’s colour palette is affected slightly by the panel’s very average capability with black, though most shades seem realistic and not as over-cooked as we’ve seen on previous LCD TVs.

The TX-L32S10B’s teeny speakers deliver enough quality for a small room, but ultimately pale in comparison to sets from the likes of JVC, Philips and Loewe.

Verdict

Depending largely on 2008 tech, it’s a toss-up between this set and its broadly similar Full HD forerunners, the £550 Panasonic TX-32LZD80 or £600 TX-32LZD85. But if your games console or Blu-ray player is itching for a playmate, the TX-L32S10B is a dependable choice.