Panasonic Viera TH-37PX80B review: Panasonic Viera TH-37PX80B

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We were absolutely enchanted by the startlingly sharp picture. This is most obviously apparent from the TV's menu system, but looking at the on-screen HD DVD menus in the Matrix films, we were amazed at the sharpness of the text.

What also struck us was the plasma's ability to handle a PC input. This isn't generally a strong suit of PDPs, and we'd always advise caution when hooking up a computer to a plasma because screen burn is still an issue. However, despite this and the Panny's daft 1,024x720-pixel native resolution, connecting our laptop to the screen produced a very likeable image. We watched the fantastic WALL·E trailer, which we downloaded as a 1080p QuickTime file from Apple's trailer Web site and it looked nothing short of amazing.

Freeview picture quality was also very good. Obviously, the limiting factor with broadcast TV is the quality at which it's being sent out and the compression applied to it. Nonetheless, the Panny does the best with what it's given.

As we mentioned earlier, some considerable effort has gone into concealing the speakers on the 37PX80. With all flat TVs there is a danger that sound quality is compromised by the push to both reduce size and keep things hidden. That's certainly true of this TV. Although the sound is decent enough for most casual TV viewing, we noticed that it's subject to bass distortion on movies, especially if you turn the levels up. We aren't enormously surprised, and on a set at this price point, it's almost certainly not a deal breaker.

With flat TVs, we'd always suggest that you look into another sound system. It doesn't have to cost a fortune, but it will really help you get the best out of your home entertainment system. There are a number of all-in-one soundbars on the market that fill this niche quite well, such as the Denon DHT-FS3, which will offer vastly improved sound for TVs.

This TV is an excellent performer and offers great value compared to other competitors. Despite that, we think HD TVs have a way to go before they could really be called 'affordable'. Still, its black level reproduction is fantastic and it makes watching movies a real pleasure.

The only slight letdown is the poor sound. For most viewing, it's perfectly capable, but movies -- especially those with deep bass -- will swamp the speakers and make you shudder. Of course, reducing the bass level will help with this but such a lovely picture really deserves better sound to back it up.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday

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