With its band of gradated silver/black along the bottom of the lower screen bezel, the mid-range TH-L32E3A has enough style to distinguish itself (just) from its lower-priced 32-inch siblings.
The menu system isn't the last word on ease of use, but it's easy enough to switch stations or inputs via the remote or the controls on the right side of the TV. If you elect not to scan for digital TV channels when you first set up the television, you may be scratching your head as to how to do this later on.
Input-wise, the TH-L32E3A comes equipped with three HDMI, two composite, a component, a D-Sub monitor, an Ethernet and two USB ports, as well as an SD/SDHC/SDXC card reader. On the output ledger, there's stereo RCA ports and a digital audio out.
From the remote's Viera Tools button, you can view images and watch video files (DivX and MKV) stored on a USB stick or SD card. Navigation speed, slideshow smoothness and video playback quality aren't quite up there with external devices, such as, say, a WD TV or a Sony PS3, but then again, it's all very useable and doesn't cost you any extra.
The Ethernet jack and optional USB wireless network adapter allow the Panasonic TV to connect to any media servers you may have lurking on your home network, as well as Facebook and internet radio via ShoutCast.
With a matte screen finish, the TH-L32E3A works well in both bright and dark rooms. The company claims a viewing angle of 178 degrees for the LED backlit 32-inch IPS screen, and whilst this proves to be true, best colour reproduction is achieved within a 15- to 20-degree range of the TV's central point. Once configured correctly, colours on the Panasonic look good, if not mind blowing.
The screen's LCD backlight delivers decent blacks in a lit room. Shut the lights off completely, though, and you'll notice that it's brighter at the bottom corners, especially the bottom right.
There are two 10W speakers along the bottom of the screen, which provide adequate sound — turned all the way up to 100 per cent, the TH-L32E3A was able to fill our cavernous testing room without descending into a blaze of crackle and distortion.
Hooked up to an Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player, the TH-L32E3A passed our Mission Impossible 3 tests quite well, with the lack of moire on the railings at the beginning of the bridge scene particularly pleasing, although there was still a bit of judder on panning shots. Detail was very good on Batman Begins, with puffs of steam and the night sky above Gotham looking rather true.
Watching what little HD sport is shown on free-to-air TV is pleasant. On NFL and Formula One broadcasts, the Panasonic displays motion smoothly, with only a minimal loss of sharpness around on-screen graphics. During more static moments, tufts of artificial grass and flecks of on-road debris can quite clearly be seen.
Although the TH-L32E3A did nothing to blow us away, its solid features and performance make it an excellent second TV.