Panasonic Viera E30 (TX-L42E30B) review: Panasonic Viera E30 (TX-L42E30B)

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The Good Great standard- and high-definition performance; rich colours; sharp detail; good Internet features.

The Bad The Guide Plus+ EPG is a monstrosity.

The Bottom Line For those not interested in 3D, the Panasonic Viera TX-L42E30B is one of the better 2D-only LED sets around, offering excellent picture and sound quality. Its Internet features only serve to sweeten the deal.

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8.8 Overall

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Despite cinematic masterpieces such as Sanctum and The Green Hornet being released in 3D, it seems the general public is still underwhelmed by the prospect of three-dimensional viewing. If you're of a like mind, the Panasonic Viera TX-L42E30B might be of interest. This 42-inch, 1080p, LED-illuminated LCD TV eschews 3D completely, in favour of producing great 2D pictures at a price that won't leave you living off baked beans.

The TX-L42E30B is available now for around £650.

Easy on the eyeballs

Some of Panasonic's 2010 models made a rainy day in Newcastle look exciting. This year, the company has upped its game on the design front. While the TX-L42E30B won't leave you wiping drool from your mouth, it does at least look pleasant, thanks to its sharply tailored lines and slightly metallic finish.

The TX-L42E30B isn't lacking on the features front either. For starters, it includes a Freeview HD tuner, so you can use it to view high-definition broadcasts from the BBC and ITV.

Panasonic's reluctance to move away from the dreadful Guide Plus+ electronic programme guide is beginning to really annoy us. Guide Plus+ not only looks ugly, but also displays Web-style adverts on the left-hand side of the screen, compromising the amount of space available for showing programming info.

The set makes up for this somewhat by including TV-recording features. Hook a hard drive up to one of its three USB ports and you can pause live TV or schedule recordings using the EPG. There's only a single tuner, so you can't watch one channel while recording another, but it's still a very welcome feature.

This TV is also Internet-savvy, packing Panasonic's new Viera Connect service. This offers a pretty good BBC iPlayer implementation, as well as support for services like the Acetrax movie-rental service, Eurosport and YouTube. It also includes Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Picasa applets. The Connect platform is now open to third-party developers too, so we may see some interesting additions in the future.

The ugly and cramped Guide Plus+ EPG fills us with righteous fury.

Along with its Internet features, the set supports digital media playback either locally, via USB storage devices, or across a home network, via a PC. This feature is easy to use, and playback is smooth and glitch-free. Format support is good too -- along with Xvid and DivX files, the set can play back high-definition MKV files, which are becoming increasingly popular on the Internet.