I don't expect a great picture from a $300 TV, but it can be better than this. Panasonic's TC-L32C5 is the company's least-expensive 2012 television, and on paper it looks just like the competition's cheap 32-inchers. In person, however, it's just as disappointing as the company's other, more expensive 2012 LCD and LED televisions, and nowhere near as worth recommending as its plasmas.
The picture is hampered by murky shadows and unnatural color that the meager controls can do little to improve. Yes, the TC-L32C5 does cost less than some other major-name 32-inch TVs, but it performs worse than almost all of them, making it a questionable value despite the low price.
If I had to choose on looks alone I'd pick this Panasonic over the Toshiba 32C120U by virtue of the Panny's squared-off stand base and angled and otherwise unaccented bottom strip, but the two look basically the same. Neither can hang with the Samsung EH4000 in style terms.
Panasonic's remote is a step up from Toshiba's, however, with better use of spacing, shape, and size to differentiate the keys. I also prefer it to Samsung's packed-in grid, but Samsung's clicker has a trump card nearly unheard-of at this level: full backlighting.
The worst color accuracy we've seen in the entry-level class combines with murky shadow detail to render the TC-L32C5 one of the least palatable cheap TVs we've tested. I did find one or two nice things while watching it, namely OK black levels and uniformity, but those can't overcome its deficits.