Panasonic seems keen to prove it can make an LCD TV as well as the next company. This year it's releasing LCD TVs like the 32-inch, 1080p Viera TX-L32D28 with LED edge lights. This is good news, since LED-illuminated LCD TVs can provide more contrast than traditional CCFL LCD sets.
There is a downside, though. Panasonic is asking around £1,000 for this TV. Given that you can get a 37-inch TV with a standard backlight for this price, or a 42-inch plasma set, the TX-L32D28 seems rather expensive. Still, that's for you to judge once we've told you if the TV is any good.
Get it in not-black
TV designs are boring. During the late 1980s, TVs were made of black plastic. In the '90s, they were all made of silver plastic. When flat-panel TVs arrived in the middle of the last decade, everyone went bonkers for shiny black plastic. Now it seems we're heading back towards silver. What we're saying is: this TV isn't black.
But what colour is it? Well, the bezel seems to be a very light silver, but it's so light that it looks white. The rest of the box is a more traditional silver colour, as is the remote control. Does any of this matter? No, not really, but, while we think this TV will look totally awesome in your bedroom, we aren't so sure it's well-suited to every living room.
Podgier than rivals
Let's make one thing clear -- this TV is no fatty. It's got a pleasingly thin body, and it's lightweight too -- the stand accounts for the majority of the weight, so the TV doesn't blow over when you sneeze. The problem is that TVs with LED edge lights are usually wafer-thin, and the TX-L32D28 isn't.
While the TX-L32D28's relative chubbiness doesn't affect its operation, Panasonic would probably sell more units if it were really thin. After all, market research tells us that you, the consumer, care more about size and style than most other features.
Freeview HD and freesat HD
As is becoming common with Panasonic TVs, the company offers a great selection of options for receiving programmes. There's a standard Freeview tuner, as you'd expect, and a tuner too. This means that, if you live in a region that has access to Freeview HD (here's a coverage checker), you'll be able to get three high-definition channels over the air for free. BBC HD, ITV1 HD and 4HD all broadcast various amounts of HD material throughout the day. ITV and Channel 4 also use their HD channels to upscale standard-definition content too, which is a good way of getting better Freeview picture quality.
If you aren't lucky enough to live in an area served by Freeview HD, then you can, instead, use the freesat HD tuner to get BBC HD and ITV1 HD via satellite. You'll also get a selection of SD channels too, which is good news if you're a telly addict. Panasonic keeps the tuners for Freeview HD and freesat HD separate, so you'll have to switch between them to see what's on via the electronic programme guide. You can, however, do this with a simple press of the 'TV' button.
Panasonic LCD TVs are an enigma. Some do a good job with SD material and some manage better with HD. We hadn't really seen one handle both well until we came across the TX-L32D28. We're not saying this TV is perfect, though -- it still has some traditional Panasonic LCD problems. For example, the image is quite soft and lacks detail with Freeview and SD video. This can be corrected somewhat by increasing the sharpness and turning down the noise-reduction settings though, and that's encouraging.