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While rival LCD manufacturers are producing screens in ever-increasing sizes, 32 inches is the largest that Panasonic offers before turning to plasma. We're not sure whether this reveals limitations in its LCD technology -- but it's interesting to note that we were more impressed by the smaller TX-26LXD60 than this model.
Nonetheless, the TX-32LXD60 still rates highly with an attractive, understated design supported by an impressive specification that includes high-definition compatibility, the latest picture processing and complete connectivity with dual HDMI inputs. It is on the expensive side, but recent additions to the Panasonic range mean you should be able to find it for considerably reduced prices online if you shop around.
Its picture performance would have been considered class-leading at the beginning of the year, but developments elsewhere have seen it slightly demoted. Image quality is still excellent, but high brightness levels leave pictures looking less natural than we've seen recently.
Without trying too hard, models from Panasonic's Viera range always look the business. By shying away from overwhelming aesthetics the clean design, featuring a matte-black frame supported by an invisible speaker system, is attractively understated.
You can choose between a swivelling pedestal stand, wall-hanging options or, if you spend a little more, a full-size AV rack that allows you to seamlessly store accompanying equipment beneath. Either way, the screen's subtle styling and admirable build quality will flatter any surroundings.
The recently improved range of connectivity offers multiple options for all standard and high-definition AV components. It's one of an increasing number of screens that feature dual HDMI inputs, which allows you to connect two high-definition sources simultaneously. This is particularly useful if you want to watch HDTV broadcasts and high-definition video without having to frustratingly switch connections between a single input or suffer a loss of quality using component inputs.
Component inputs are available if you are still using analogue devices and they will support progressive-scan video for a smoother picture from a compatible DVD player. Users can also draw on a pair of Scart terminals, both of which have been RGB-enabled for the highest quality performance from this standard connection.
All these connections are neatly integrated behind the rear panel, and there are easily accessible AV inputs at the right-hand side of the screen that can be used to quickly connect devices such as a camcorder or games console.
The only omission is the absence of a PC input, which may annoy media centre owners -- especially as we couldn't get a picture using HDMI adaptors.
The remote doesn't appear especially stylish, but favours functionality above flair. The oversized keys are intelligently arranged and only important primary functions have been given space, which means less time spent finding the right control.
As you would expect, the TX-32LXD60 is high-definition compatible, with a 1,366x768-pixel resolution that will support both commonly used 720p and 1080i high-definition formats. However, although this WXGA resolution will display 1080i signals used by Sky's HD broadcasts, images will be slightly downscaled to fit. Theoretically, this means a loss of detail, but in reality the effect is so minimal that it can be ignored.
If you want to watch 1080i images in their entirety or display the new 1080p format used by next-generation PlayStation 3, you'll need a screen with a higher 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. But this specification is only just arriving in the mainstream and TVs that offer it are considerably more expensive.and or the forthcoming
Both analogue and digital TV tuners are integrated with an accompanying CI card slot for receiving limited, subscription-based channels such as MTV and British Eurosport from TopUp TV services.
Panasonic has also installed the latest picture-enhancing technologies from its V-Real Advanced LCD collective. These include systems such as Active Light Control and Active Contrast Control, which claim to improve traditionally subdued LCD dynamic contrast levels. Its Overdrive system offers an exceptionally fast 8ms response time for more controlled movement.
The TX-32LXD60's main menu system appears surprisingly primitive, featuring outdated, blocky graphics with a limited range of options. There are only basic picture and sound settings accompanied by a few preset modes, which is miserly compared to some screens. Digital TV menus are more attractively displayed and the seven-day electronic programme guide can be used to display listings for a specified channel or several channels at a time as well as searches by category or programme type.
In truth, we expected more interactive functionality from a screen at this price, but at least all the controls have an impact -- unlike some over-elaborate options we've seen on other TVs -- and the selective range does mean the screen is incredibly easy to install and operate.
We were stunned by the performance of the smaller TX-26LXD60 when we reviewed it, but a step up in screen size has slightly dampened our enthusiasm -- especially when compared to some newer models, such as .
That's not to say that image quality isn't still impressive. Digital broadcasts are enviably stable and excellently detailed while video performance is even more engaging. High-definition images in particular are densely defined, with contrast so superb that it adds another dimension to the experience. Images are untainted by artefacts or smearing movement.
However, images do occasionally appear too bright -- reducing contrast in dark scenes and leaving colours looking superficial. This can invigorate blockbusters laden with special effects, but isn't adaptable enough to enhance realism using more natural content.
As for audio quality, while the speakers used in the 26-inch model are substantial enough for a small room, using the same ones here struggles to fill the larger living rooms where a screen of this size will be used.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide