The Panasonic Viera TX-L32E30B is the step-up model from the entry-level LED model.that we looked at recently. This 32-inch, 1080p TV adds a number of extras, not least of which is its support for online services and media streaming. You can buy it online for around £550, which is pretty reasonable for an
Panasonic's TVs have sometimes looked boring, but the company seems to be addressing the issue with its 2011 range. The TX-L32E30B is much more aesthetically pleasing than last year's models, with its sharp, angular lines giving it quite a sophisticated look and the brushed-metal finish on the bezel adding a touch of extra class. It's not quite as drool-worthy as some of LG's latest models, but it's a big improvement.
For a 32-inch model, this TV is well equipped in the connections department, with four HDMI ports, and the usual VGA, component, Scart and composite sockets. Digital media playback is also well catered for, as there's an Ethernet socket, along with two USB ports.
The Ethernet socket allows you to stream music, photo and video files across a network from a PC or network-attached storage drive. This worked for us without any problems. Format support is also good, with DivX, Xvid and HD MKV files all playing back without any problems.
The set's Ethernet port is also used for Panasonic's Viera Connect online service, which improves on the company's older Viera Cast platform by adding more content, as well as an app store. The range of content available isn't too bad, as, along with BBC iPlayer, there's also the Acetrax movie-rental service, YouTube, Eurosport News and apps for Facebook and Twitter.
You can play media files from hard drives connected to one of the two USB ports, with the spare USB port designed to accept the optional Wi-Fi dongle.
If you hook up a hard drive to one of these ports, you can also make use of the TV's PVR-style features, recording shows or pausing live TV. But, as the TV only has a single Freeview HD tuner, you can't record one channel while watching another, as you can on a twin-tuner PVR. Nevertheless, it's a fairly neat feature to have.
Unfortunately, as with other Panasonic models, this set uses the Guide Plus+ electronic programme guide, rather than the standard Freeview HD EPG. The big annoyance with Guide Plus+ is that it displays Web-style adverts, which limits the amount of space available to display programming info. We really wish Panasonic would see sense and move away from Guide Plus+ completely.