Panasonic's 32-inch, 1080p Viera TX-L32X20B is an entry-level LCD TV. As such, it eschews many of the fancy features found on the company's higher-end TVs, such as LED backlighting and Internet connectivity. Consequently, Panasonic has been able to keep the price down -- you can currently pick this set up online for as little as £310.
'Stunning' isn't the word that springs to mind when you first clap eyes on this telly. Like many of Panasonic's lower-end sets, its design is very dull, especially when compared to similarly priced offerings from companies like LG and Samsung. Panasonic has tried to jazz things up slightly by adding a dimpled pattern to the glossy finish on the front, but the results aren't all that inspiring. The TV uses traditional CCFL backlighting so it's quite porky too, measuring 83mm thick. Its mundane appearance does mean, however, that the TV will look inconspicuous in the average lounge.
On a more positive note, set-up is a breeze and there's a decent line-up of connections for a 32-inch model, including three HDMI ports, a pair of Scart sockets, and a set of component inputs. There's also an optical audio output so you can feed sound from the on-board Freeview tuner to an external surround-sound system.
Unfortunately, the Freeview tuner is standard-definition only, so you can't use it to view the high-definition channels from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Also, there's no Ethernet port for Internet features and no USB port for digital-media playback either, although you can play JPEG pictures and AVCHD videos from SD cards. Bizarrely, you can't play MP3 files.
The set's menus look rather drab, but they're easy to navigate and give you access to all the picture- and sound-tweaking options you're likely to need. As with Panasonic's other TVs, this one uses the Guide Plus+ system for its electronic programme guide. The colour scheme is pretty lacklustre and, rather annoyingly, some space on the left-hand side of the EPG is given over to Web-style adverts. But the guide does make it easy to hop around channels and, on the whole, it's quite easy to use.
To keep the price down, Panasonic has used an HD Ready panel with a 1,366x768-pixel resolution, rather than a 'Full HD', 1080p one. It's also used traditional CCFL backlighting, instead of opting for the LED edge lights that you'll find on its more expensive sets. We can live with the lower-resolution panel on a screen of this size, especially as HD Ready sets often do a better job with standard-definition material than cheap, 1080p ones. Certainly, standard-definition channels from the TX-L32X20B's Freeview tuner look more than acceptable. Some MPEG noise is visible, but this is the case even with sets that cost more than twice as much as this one.