Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
I don’t think that I have ever before reviewed a Panasonic LCD TV. The reason is simple: Panasonic is one of the diminishing number of companies which stands firmly behind plasma technology. It goes further than most in distinguishing the two technologies: plasma for big, LCD for small. In Panasonic’s case, ‘small’ is anything under 107 cm (42 inches).
The Panasonic Viera TX-32LXD800A is small, at 80 cm (31.5 inches), but it still has plenty of high-end features.
The LCD panel, for example, offers a full high definition resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This is supported by some pretty nifty video processing – although as we’ll see in a moment one element of this has been omitted.
You get three HDMI inputs, one conveniently located on the side with a group of AV inputs. Underneath this is a swinging panel which conceals an SD card slot. This allows a beautiful showing of photos taking full advantage of the high definition display, but doesn’t support MP3 music playback.
The TV has both an analog TV tuner and a full high definition one. The latter provides a full multi-day EPG (for those stations which broadcast this).
Let me cut to the chase, if this TV is the right size for you then you will find it absolutely magnificent 90 percent of the time. That’s because it is.
The digital TV tuner worked well and provided a very watchable picture, especially on high definition stations. But even SDTV stations were fine, with limited MPEG compression artefacts, nice colour and good picture stability.
With Blu-ray the results were excellent. The picture was so sharp that any improvement on this front would, I think, be quite impossible. The colour was excellent: rich and strong. Most importantly the colour graduations on human faces were smooth, not banded or posterised, resulting in a very natural look.
The black levels were adequate and, most importantly, smooth and even.
The TV accepts the highest quality 1080p24 signals from Blu-ray players and displays them smoothly. But it can display them even more smoothly when the ’24p Film’ item under the ‘Setup Menu’ is set to ‘Yes’ (this is the default). This delivers super smooth motion by generating intermediate frames, but can also generate some ‘heat haze’ artefacts from time to time. Most of the time I preferred to leave it off.
The one real weakness of this TV was its treatment of 576i source material, such as that from PAL DVDs. Even when delivered over HDMI, this was all treated as video sourced, rather than analysed to determine whether it was film or video sourced. The result was that most DVDs, if delivered at 576i, were not shown at their optimum picture quality. Indeed, sometimes jaggies were apparent on strong moving diagonals. So I recommend that you use a high quality progressive scan DVD player. Get one with 1080p output, and you can use the ‘Just Scan’ aspect ratio of the TV to make sure that the picture is displayed right up to its edges.
If I was in the market for an 80 cm TV, without a doubt the Panasonic Viera TX-32LXD800A would be on my very short list.