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Panasonic TC-L32C5 bares its unimpressive all (pictures)

Shoppers for bargain-basement 32-inch LCD TVs can do better than the Panasonic TC-L32C5.

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David_Katzmaier.jpg

David Katzmaier

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1 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Overview

I don't expect a great picture from a $300 TV, but it can be better than this. Panasonic's TC-L32C5 is the company's least-expensive 2012 television, and on paper it looks just like the competition's cheap 32-inchers. In person, however, it's just as disappointing as the company's other, more expensive 2012 LCD and LED televisions, and nowhere near as worth recommending as its plasmas.

The picture is hampered by murky shadows and unnatural color that the meager controls can do little to improve. Yes, the TC-L32C5 does cost less than some other major-name 32-inch TVs, but it performs worse than almost all of them, making it a questionable value despite the low price.

Read the full review of the Panasonic TC-L32C5

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2 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bezel detail

If you've seen one thick-framed, glossy-black TV, you've seen them all.
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Corner detail

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Corner detail

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5 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Stand detail

If I had to choose on looks alone I'd pick this Panasonic over the Toshiba 32C120U by virtue of the Panny's squared-off stand base and angled and otherwise unaccented bottom strip, but the two look basically the same. Neither can hang with the Samsung EH4000 in style terms.
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6 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Side view

Nope, it's not an LED-backlit model. Move along.
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7 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Remote detail

Panasonic's remote is a step up from Toshiba's, however, with better use of spacing, shape, and size to differentiate the keys. I also prefer it to Samsung's packed-in grid, but Samsung's clicker has a trump card nearly unheard-of at this level: full backlighting.
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8 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Remote in hand

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9 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Inputs

You get two HDMI ports, one each component- and composite-video, an RGB-style PC input, and a USB port. That's standard for a cheap TV.
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10 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

USB photos and music

This TV's only "extra" is a USB port, allowing the display of JPEG photos and audio files (MP3s and other formats) from attached thumb drives.
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11 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Main menu

You don't get many picture settings from this entry-level Panasonic, although the capability to adjust all four picture modes beyond the default settings is a nice plus.
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12 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Advanced settings

The TC-L32C5 lacks advanced controls found on a few other entry-level sets we compared it with.
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13 of 13 Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture quality

The worst color accuracy we've seen in the entry-level class combines with murky shadow detail to render the TC-L32C5 one of the least palatable cheap TVs we've tested. I did find one or two nice things while watching it, namely OK black levels and uniformity, but those can't overcome its deficits.

Read the full review of the Panasonic TC-L32C5

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