Many of the LCD TVs currently on the market suffer quite badly from crosstalk, or double imaging, when displaying 3D movies. It's one of the reasons why plasmas have often been the best option for those interested in an active-shutter 3D telly.3D
But Panasonic thinks it's solved the problem with its 37-inch, 1080p, LED-illuminated Viera TX-L37DT30B, which is available for around £800 online. This LCD TV features a panel with a particularly fast response time, which the company says largely eradicates the crosstalk issue. We took a closer look to test out the company's claims.
User interface and EPG
Panasonic's TVs have been stuck in something of a time warp when it comes to their menu systems, and the TX-L37DT30B is no exception. While other companies use flashier menus that offer smooth transitions, slick animations and a generally more dynamic feel, Panasonic has merely added the odd icon here and there to its distinctly old-school offerings.
Basically, what you get are endless, static menus that show white text on a blue background. There are no animations, very few icons and a minimal amount of colour. It really is time for Panasonic to up its game in this area if it wants to keep pace with its rivals.
Nevertheless, the menu system is logically laid out and it's pretty easy to find your way around. Hitting the menu buttons lets you quickly flick between picture and sound controls, for example, and the picture menus offer pretty comprehensive control over not just colour and contrast but also picture-processing features such as the Intelligent Frame Creation and upscaling modes.
We're not remotely chuffed by Panasonic's decision to stick with the Guide Plus+ system for this set's electronic programme guide. It really is a mess, mostly because it reserves space on the left-hand side of the screen for Web-style adverts. This compromises the amount of space available to show programming information.
The presentation of the EPG is quite dull too, and we don't like the way it completely obscures the channel you're watching. It'd be better if it reduced the current channel to a video box in the corner of the EPG, as most other TVs do. At least the EPG is quite fast, partly because the graphics are so basic.
Digital media and Internet features
The TX-L37DT30B is no slouch when it comes to digital-media playback and Internet features. The set has three USB ports, as well as an Ethernet jack and an SD card slot. The idea behind the three USB ports is that you can have a hard drive connected to one, an optional wireless adaptor plugged into another, and keep the third port free for hooking up USB keys every now and again.
If you connect a hard drive to the USB port marked with the HDD symbol, you can record shows from the Freeview HD or freesat HD tuners directly to disk. Shows can be recorded either by hitting the record button on the remote as you're watching a channel, or setting up a timed recording via the EPG. Although the set has two tuners, you can only record from one channel at a time, and you can't record one channel while watching another, as you can with twin-tuner PVRs.
The TV also supports playback of media files from hard drives or memory keys plugged into the other two ports. Format support is good. Along with the usual JPEG picture and MP3 music formats, it also works with Xvid files and even high-definition MKV videos. The TV will happily stream these digital media files across a network via its Ethernet port too, and we had no problem getting it to work with the Universal Plug and Play server built into our Iomega network-attached storage drive.
Like most other manufacturers, Panasonic has embraced Internet video. Call up the Viera Connect menu and you'll find a decent range of Web video services, such as BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Acetrax and Dailymotion. There are also apps for Facebook and Twitter, as well as support for Skype.
There's even an app store in which you'll find loads of simple games, as well as apps for a number of news and information services, such as AccuWeather and Euronews. All in all, it's a pretty good showing on the online front, although the Viera Connect interface can feel rather slow and clunky at times.
Design and connections
Panasonic has started to take the design of its sets rather more seriously. The TX-L37DT30B is certainly much more attractive than last year's models. The glossy finish and thin metallic strip that frames the entire set help to give it a more upmarket feel.
You won't be stuck for ports when it comes to hooking up your high-definition gear either, as there are four HDMI inputs on offer, alongside the usual set of component inputs and the Scart socket. One HDMI port also supports 'audio return channel', so you can route audio to an external surround-sound system. Other connections include a composite input, as well as a VGA socket.