13th Aug 2008 | 10:35
Some effortless strokes put this Full HD tiddler of an LCD TV in amongst the big fish
Despite being one of the few brands left that still deal in both plasma and LCD technology, it's doubly hard for us to make comparisons with last season's crop of Panasonic LCD TVs when it comes to the TX-32LZD80.
This 32in LCD TV, you see, is a totally different beast to before. Sporting a Full HD resolution, it is one of few 32in such screens currently on sale in the UK and Panasonic's first...
But forgive us for being a tad cynical. Full HD resolution is best viewed on screens much bigger than a paltry 32in. The huge 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution – a hi-def format found on Blu-ray discs as well as from the games consoles – is ripe for blowing-up as big as you can. Knowing Panasonic as we do, though, we're hoping to being pleasantly surprised.
Fashioned from the same classic mould as its older screens, the TX-32LZD80 is just as well-connected.
Three HDMI inputs are an instant hit while Panasonic's inclusion of an SD card slot, which allows viewing of JPEG photos direct from a digital camera, indicates the flagship nature of this set.
Bundled in beside are all the usual connections, such as component video and a PC input – the latter able to transfer 1:1 pixel mapping to make use of the TX-32LZD80's hi-res screen as a PC monitor.
That pixel mapping also applies to Blu-ray (and games), whose 1080p video quality can be played back at their native 24 frames-per-second speed.
Save for blur-bashing 100Hz technology, this small a Full HD set has all the trappings of a high-end bigscreen LCD TV, chief of which is its built-in V-Real 3 picture processing.
Able to clean-up pictures, suppress interference, boost contrast and improve colour, this is a sophisticated piece of technology. And with the stunning landscapes of the Patrick Stewart-narrated Earth spinning in a Blu-ray player, it's clear that the TX-32LZD80 is something of a natural wonder itself.
Shots of the Arctic impress not just with their pure, peak whites, but with immaculate colour gradations.
Lacklustre black levels
The extra pixels on this panel might have something to do with that – and we suspect that's also why fast-moving images don't suffer from blur. There's a touch less detail than expected, and the reason for that is its suppression of picture noise.
Making HD pictures a touch softer is the price you pay for some of the most skilfully upscaled Freeview pictures we've seen.
But if LCD TVs able to replicate the colour black believably are an endangered species, then unfortunately the TX-32LZD80 is as common as muck.
Some of the underwater shots of Earth suffer from a lack of contrast and blacks are generally displayed as grey. It's the only moderately disappointing thing about this TV.
Great with hi-def
Those still after a Full HD screen to pair with a Blu-ray player or games console will be keen to know whether the TX-32LZD80 is up to the standard of the only other such screen on sale, Sharp's LC-32X20E.
Roger that. In fact, with its immaculate pictures and bold Freeview images, the TX-32LZD80 out ranks the opposition in two key areas – though its rival may show more detail.
After delivering some great Full HD plasmas of late, Panasonic has now done the same in miniature and with LCD tech too. It's not completely perfect, but the TX-32LZD80 is no small achievement.