There are plenty of smaller TVs on the market aimed at people who want a second set for the bedroom or living room, or even those who don't want a massive TV in their front room (apparently they do exist).
However, many small-screen sets use ageing technology and older panels and as a result their picture quality tends to be severely compromised.
Panasonic's 24-inch Viera TX-L24E3B promises better pictures than most, so does its image quality justify the price tag of around £330, which is high for a smaller display?
User interface and EPG
This set uses pretty much the same user interface as Panasonic's larger TVs. This has both good and bad points. On the negative side, the menus look quite dated. They lack the snazzy graphics and slick animations that you now get on even cheaper models from Samsung and LG, which both lead the way when it comes to the menu systems on today's TVs.
Instead, when you press the menu button on the TX-L24E3B's remote, you're presented with static dull menus that show white text against a blue and black background. However, what they lose in presentation pizzazz they make up for in simplicity. The layout of the menus is so straightforward that it really is very quick and easy to get to the core settings that you need to tweak.
There's a good range of picture presets on offer, with the True Cinema mode being the most accurate of the bunch. If you want to tweak these presets you can adjust settings such as contrast, brightness, colour and sharpness. There's no facility for tweaking individual colours, although we wouldn't necessarily expect this on a TV of this screen size.
There are limited controls for some of the slightly more advanced picture features, such as the Vivid Colour setting, for adding more oomph to colours. There's also noise reduction, which tries to suppress image noise and flicker, and the resolution enhancer, which attempts to boost the apparent resolution of standard-definition images.
The electronic programme guide (EPG) for the onboard Freeview HD tuner is a let down though. It uses the Guide+ Plus system that reserves some space on the left-hand side of the screen for web-style adverts. The presentation of the EPG is drab too. That said, it does at least display quite a lot of programming data on one screen and the filtering and search features are also good.
We got excited when we took a look around the back of the TV -- nestled between the various AV connections is an Ethernet port. Unfortunately, this turns out to be pretty much redundant and only seems to have been added because it's part of the minimum specification for Freeview HD. Sadly, the set doesn't support any online services, such as the BBC's iPlayer, that you get on Panasonic's higher-end models. It also doesn't allow you to stream media files across a network from a PC.
Another disappointment, especially considering this model's slightly higher asking price, is the absence of a USB port. This is a shame, as even cheaper own-branded TVs from Currys now come with USB ports for media playback. They also usually allow you to record TV shows directly to memory keys via simple video recorder features.
What this set does have, though, is an SD card slot. Panasonic was one of the early backers of SD memory cards, so perhaps it's no surprise that it favours this format. When you plug an SD card into the slot on the side of the TV it automatically starts up the media viewer.
This can also be accessed by pressing the Viera Tools button on the remote. Unfortunately, file support is very limited. The set only allows you to view JPG pictures, listen to music in MP3 or AAC format, and view videos in AVCHD, MP4 or MOV formats. It doesn't support DivX or Xvid files, nor HD MKV files.
The media viewer is quite basic, but it does allow you to create slide shows of your photos with a soundtrack either of the smooth jazz loops built into the set, or an MP3 file of your choosing.
Although the SD Card player will be handy for some to have, especially those with Panasonic camcorders, we can't help wishing that Panasonic had included its Viera Connect Internet TV platform on this TV and also added a USB port with support for more common video formats, especially as the cost of the set is relatively high for the screen size.