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On paper, Panasonic's Viera TX-32LXD85 has a tough job on its £650 hands. After all, it follows hot on the heels of the brand's all-singing, all-dancing, really rather excellent 32LZD85. Surely the less well-specified 32LXD85 can't make much of a mark in the wake of such an illustrious sibling?
There is, of course, a very good reason why the 32LXD85 isn't as well specified as the 32LZD85: price. For around £650, the 32LXD85 is £100-200 cheaper than its fancy-pants sibling. That's enough in itself to tempt many people towards it, provided the set's performance standards aren't too badly affected by its price-induced down-speccing.
There doesn't seem to be too much down-speccing in many of the key areas. The set still sports a potentially winning picture processing combination of Panasonic's V-Real Pro 3 system and 100Hz. The former works on improving a frightening number of picture elements, including noise reduction, colours, detailing and contrast, while the 100Hz element tries to make moving objects look sharper by doubling the usual PAL refresh rate. The set also carries a handy three HDMI sockets, as well as an SD card slot for direct playback of digital images.
For the most part, the 32LXD85's images are a chip off the old Panasonic block. Colours, for instance, are nothing short of excellent. The ultra-vivid hues of the Bahamas sequence in Casino Royale blaze off the screen, while darker, more muted scenes enjoy some of the most natural and wide-ranging tones the LCD world has to offer.
Colours this good are usually accompanied by a pretty healthy contrast range and the 32LXD85 is no different. Bright whites look clean and pure while the set produces deeper, less greyed-over blacks than the vast majority of its similarly priced 32-inch counterparts.
Also surprisingly good is how sharp pictures look considering the 32LXD85 is not a 1080p TV. Looking at it against the 32LZD85, many HD shots actually look identically sharp and detailed. This HD clarity is achieved despite the TV having to 'downscale' HD images to fit its 1,366x768-resolution LCD panel. Take a bow, V-Real 3 Pro. The sharpness owes a debt of gratitude to the set's 100Hz processing too, which sharpens up moving objects without generating any nasty side effects.
Obviously for some people, the biggest negative about the 32LXD85 will be its lack of a 1080p resolution. This can certainly be felt in long-range HD shots, as distant objects appear with noticeably more fine detail on the 1080p 32LZD85. But let's not forget that as we said in the previous section, the majority of HD footage actually holds up superbly well on the 32LZD85.
One negative picture trait the 32LXD85 shares with its costlier sibling is a tendency to show flickering noise over bright edges during sharp camera pans. Another slight picture issue for the 32LXD85 is some marginal judder when showing 1080p/24 Blu-ray sources -- a result, we presume, of the fact that the 32LXD85 doesn't have the same dedicated 24p film mode or Motion Focus processing technology found on the 32LZD85.
One final down point for the 32LXD85 concerns its HDMIs. Technically speaking, they're v1.3 affairs, but for whatever reason, they can't handle the Deep Colour format slowly starting to become something of a hot potato in AV circles.
Inevitably, the 32LXD85 is not as sexy as its 32LZD85 brother. But if saving money is more important to you than getting absolutely every last pixel of picture information from an HD source, the 32LXD85 still has masses to offer for its £650 price tag, especially when you compare it with other sets in the same bracket.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday