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Panasonic Viera S20 (TX-L37S20B) review: Panasonic Viera S20 (TX-L37S20B)

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The Good Freeview HD tuner; Good standard-definition upscaling; Impressively sharp high-definition pictures.

The Bad Dull styling; Adverts on the EPG; Pricey for what you get.

The Bottom Line The Panasonic Viera TX-L37S20B is a decent mid-range television, but we think it's a touch overpriced for the range of features on offer.

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7.5 Overall

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Although you might not realise from the relatively high £750 price tag, the 37-inch, 1080p, backlit LCD Viera TX-L37S20B actually sits towards the middle of Panasonic's current line-up of TVs. As such, it lacks some of the fancy extras you'll find on the company's V-series sets. Panasonic still thinks there's enough on offer here to tempt punters, but is that really the case?

Plain Jane Panasonic

Like many of Panasonic's mid and low-end TVs, the S20 is a bit of a Plain Jane when it comes to looks. The sculpting is pretty unimaginative and the standard-issue glossy black finish only narrowly avoids total blandness with a blue hue that runs across the bottom of the fascia.

The set isn't exactly laden with inputs, either. It only has three HDMI ports rather than the four you'll find on most other 37-inchers. Nevertheless, it does have a set of component inputs along with two Scart sockets and a VGA input for hooking up a PC or laptop. There's also an SD card slot, but this only supports a limited range of formats, including JPEG photos and AVCHD footage captured on camcorders.

In addition, the TV's digital-media support is rather poor, considering its mid-range price tag. There are no USB ports at all and, although the set does have an Ethernet port, this is currently unused. This means you don't get the DNLA media-streaming features or the VieraCast internet services found on the company's higher-end V-series TVs. The only reason for the inclusion of an Ethernet port seems to be that it's part of the Freeview HD specification and may be used for services like iPlayer or Project Canvas in the future.

Colour stunner

On the plus side, the inclusion of the Freeview HD tuner does mean you get access to the three terrestrial HD channels from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Once you've hooked up an aerial and tuned the channels, you'll find they appear alongside the standard-definition stations in the TV's electronic programme guide. Like the TV's menu system, the EPG is a bit drab-looking and, rather annoyingly, it shows Web-style adverts in a small box on the left-hand side of the screen. The EPG is fairly quick to use, however, and the layout is actually quite good.

Aside from annoying adverts, the S20's electronic programme guide is well laid-out and smooth to use.

The S20 uses a 1080p IPS-Alpha panel with standard CCFL backlighting. The advantage of IPS-Alpha technology is that it has a wider viewing angle than standard LCD panels and colours don't wash out at extreme angles, as they do on some sets.

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