On paper, Panasonic's Viera TX-32LXD85 has a tough job on its £650 hands. After all, it follows hot on the heels of the brand's all-singing, all-dancing, really rather excellent. Surely the less well-specified 32LXD85 can't make much of a mark in the wake of such an illustrious sibling?
There is, of course, a very good reason why the 32LXD85 isn't as well specified as the 32LZD85: price. For around £650, the 32LXD85 is £100-200 cheaper than its fancy-pants sibling. That's enough in itself to tempt many people towards it, provided the set's performance standards aren't too badly affected by its price-induced down-speccing.
There doesn't seem to be too much down-speccing in many of the key areas. The set still sports a potentially winning picture processing combination of Panasonic's V-Real Pro 3 system and 100Hz. The former works on improving a frightening number of picture elements, including noise reduction, colours, detailing and contrast, while the 100Hz element tries to make moving objects look sharper by doubling the usual PAL refresh rate. The set also carries a handy three HDMI sockets, as well as an SD card slot for direct playback of digital images.
For the most part, the 32LXD85's images are a chip off the old Panasonic block. Colours, for instance, are nothing short of excellent. The ultra-vivid hues of the Bahamas sequence in Casino Royale blaze off the screen, while darker, more muted scenes enjoy some of the most natural and wide-ranging tones the LCD world has to offer.
Colours this good are usually accompanied by a pretty healthy contrast range and the 32LXD85 is no different. Bright whites look clean and pure while the set produces deeper, less greyed-over blacks than the vast majority of its similarly priced 32-inch counterparts.
Also surprisingly good is how sharp pictures look considering the 32LXD85 is not a 1080p TV. Looking at it against the 32LZD85, many HD shots actually look identically sharp and detailed. This HD clarity is achieved despite the TV having to 'downscale' HD images to fit its 1,366x768-resolution LCD panel. Take a bow, V-Real 3 Pro. The sharpness owes a debt of gratitude to the set's 100Hz processing too, which sharpens up moving objects without generating any nasty side effects.