Panasonic TX-L32V10 television review
Making LCD TVs with built-in Freesat satellite TV tuners used to be the sole reserve of Panasonic. But since it's exclusivity deal with the satellite broadcaster ended earlier this year, the Japanese brand has found itself sandwiched between LG, which has incessantly undercut it, and, more recently, Sony, which tends to stick a couple of hundred extra on all TVs.
But the L32V10, part of Panasonic's V10 Series, is anything but middle-of-the-road. Don't have Freesat? Don't worry; released last Spring, the premium price the L32V10 once attracted has long since been eroded, leaving it something of a bargain for anyone after a dependable LCD TV.
For those not blessed with a satellite dish, the L32V10 does have a Freeview tuner inside, too, so there's no need to miss out on digital TV.
High-def is also coped with admirably, with a Full HD panel (based around a latest-gen IPS Alpha LCD panel) alongside three HDMI inputs and 100Hz Intelligent Frame Creation. The latter is designed primarily to rid the screen of blur.
Although there's no LED backlighting (you'll pay a bit more for that), there is a nod to the future that sees the rear of the L32V10 sport a LAN port. Wire that up to a broadband router and you can access some web-based services through the set's Viera Cast portal. It's a wonderfully designed interface, though the experience is limited to news and video services from Eurosport, YouTube, Picasa and Bloomberg. If that's completely at odds with the appeal of the Internet, at least Eurosport and YouTube are genuinely engaging. Easy to search and quick to play, videos from Eurosport's news service in particular are excellently presented.
The L32V10's Ethernet port also sees the set access your broadband home network using the DLNA protocol, though in practice there's not much to stream - just photos worked in our test, with video files and even music not compatible with the TV's media player.
Panasonic's take on the future also sees some legacy connections sacrificed, including Composite video and S-Video, to make way for a SDHC card slot. It's only suitable for taking memory cards (either normal SD or higher capacity SDHC) from a digital camera, because the set's menus include an option to play slideshows set to music. Though that works - and works well - with any brand of camera, high definition video files can only be played from camcorders that record in the AVCHD format (such as Panasonic's camcorders).
It has its limitations, but what the L32V10 does, it does very well indeed. Viera Tools, a pop-up screen accessed from the remote, lets you whizz around the onscreen menus. The set's V-Audio Surround modes are a rare low-light, as is 100Hz, which doesn't make much difference to the onscreen proceedings. No matter - the L32V10 is capable of excellent Full HD images that swim in fine detail, reproduce just enough contrast, and supply some sublime colours.
A little judder from Blu-ray and some underwhelming audio can't stop us recommending this good value step-up screen; it's great with games, HD and SD sources, and the L32V10's Viera Cast and (albeit limited) multimedia features are genuinely engaging.