Price (RRP): $2,749
Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
Panasonic plays in most of the TV markets, from the moderately priced to the leading edge. The TX-32LXD600A LCD TV is inclined towards the latter, with much higher performance than the company’s cheaper models.
The most important elements of this TV are its high specification LCD panel, and its built-in high definition digital TV tuner. In other words, you get it out of the box, plug it in, do a bit of setting up and you have a high-quality picture, no extras needed.
But it also supports extras. For example, there is an optical digital audio output, so you can pipe Dolby Digital sound from your HDTV channels to a home theatre receiver to provide full surround sound. There are plenty of external inputs: most importantly two HDMI sockets. Somewhat surprisingly, these do not support full high definition progressive scan video (1080p), so that means that the full Blu-ray experience can, with some material, be a little less than it ought to be.
There is also a slot for Secure Digital (SD) flash cards. You can display photos from your SD-based digital camera, or videos from Panasonic’s D-Snap digital video camera, or you can even record broadcast TV to it. This results in a lowish resolution picture, even at the highest quality setting, which you cannot view on your computer because the necessary codec to display it is not available unless you have a D-Snap.
Setting up this TV was an easy affair, with the digital TV tuner well integrated. You can even manually tune in stations, and set up favourites lists. Full subtitles and program information are provided.
Making use of some of the options requires a study of the manual because several functions rely heavily on the four unlabelled colour-coded keys on the remote, but this soon becomes instinctive and onscreen cues guide you in the unit’s operation.
The HDTV tuner was absolutely rock solid in its performance during the couple of weeks I used the TV. There was never the slightest hint of picture break up or blocking (the noise where sections of the picture become composed of large coloured blocks).
The panel performance was also excellent. Panasonic is coy on such things as contrast ratio and brightness, but in practice it was up there with the best of the breed. Standard definition TV was generally presented cleanly, with a bit of combing appearing only occasionally. The high definition digital TV test loops, with their wondrous Australian and foreign scenes, were delivered well, if not quite as transparently as full 1080 resolution panels can manage (the panel?s resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels).
With DVDs delivered via both component video and HDMI, the picture was excellent as well.
For out-of-the-box immediate delivery of high quality HD viewing, this TV is very good, and very good value for money. The only real worry was that with true HD panels appearing frequently now, soon you will be able to buy a HDTV with an even better picture for little more money.