Panasonic TX-L32E3B £600
23rd May 2011 | 15:05
Entry-level edge LED set that puts picture purity ahead of technological fireworks
Panasonic TX-L32E3B: Overview
The Panasonic TX-L32E3B is driven by price, rather than features or technology. In order to keep the cost down this entry-level 32-inch set eschews niceties such as 3D playback or Panasonic's Viera Connect online system, but has managed to hang onto edge LED backlighting and sports an IPS Alpha panel.
If advanced web capability is your bag you should investigate Panasonic's TX-L32E30B, or its 37-inch and 42-inch siblings, while for three-dimensional fun you'll have to make a considerable jump in price to the TX-L32DT30B, or its 37-inch stablemate, the TX-L37DT30.
Panasonic TX-L32E3B: Features
There are precious few interesting tricks and tools on the TX-L32E3B. When it comes to setting up pictures, for instance, it initially looks like there isn't anything going on beyond the absolute basic colour, contrast, brightness and sharpness settings. There is a sensor to detect light levels in the room and adjust the picture settings accordingly (labeled as 'C.A.T.S'), but eco-friendly features like this are found on most decent TVs now.
Activating the set's Colour Booster option increases saturation slightly, but at the expense of a little naturalism and subtlety, so should be avoided unless you value vibrancy over accuracy.
The Advanced Features menu contains resolution enhancement and an option for turning off overscanning (whereby you can watch HD sources on a pixel for pixel basis) but, again, these are commonplace features on modern TVs.
The similarly disappointing connections roster lacks USB ports, and, while there is a LAN port, this is only there as mandatory support for the TV's built-in Freeview HD tuner and doesn't open up DLNA networking or suggest any sort of advanced internet capability.
There is a SD card slot, though, that will accept HD video as well as photo files.
The TX-L32E3B's bodywork is robust for an entry-level TV, though and the combination of edge LED lighting and the aforementioned IPS Alpha panel (which ought to enable a wider than average viewing angle and reduce motion blur) claws back some respectability.
Panasonic TX-L32E3B: Picture quality
The TX-L32E3B makes its strongest impact with sharpness when watching high-definition content. Detail levels are striking for a relatively small set, easily revealing individual hairs and facial pores during closeups.
Crucially, this impressive clarity isn't accompanied by the sort of noise that would suggest the sharpness is being forced; grain levels aren't excessive, edges don't have the tell-tale glow of clumsy edge enhancement and any noise that might be in a source isn't given the extra prominence that sometimes results from resolution boosting technology.
The lack of conspicuous over-processing contributes to an extremely natural performance, even with standard-definition pictures.
If you do want to crank up the sharpness you can experiment with the Resolution Enhancer without having to worry about it making pictures look too artificial (if you stick to using it on its lowest setting, at any rate).
The TX-L32E3B's pictures might not be the most eye-catchingly vibrant around, but seem to require little tweaking for optimum Blu-ray performance. Of course, this is just as well given that the tools available for adjusting hues are practically non-existent.
The IPS Alpha panel enables the pictures to retain colour and contrast from an appreciably wider viewing angle than most LCD TVs, while gamers should enjoy the TX-L32E3B's astonishingly quick response time (just 10ms), which all but eradicates input lag.
While you could never describe the pictures as explosive, the TX-L32E3B's edge LED engine is able to deliver a mixture of light and dark content simultaneously without wiping out too much brightness or graying over dark areas.
Low-lit scenes also reveal only the tiniest amounts of backlight inconsistency. This is always a particular concern with edge LED TVs, but the TX-L32E3B suffers from it less, even, than Panasonic's top-end 32-inch LCD, the L32DT30.
The dynamic contrast system does cause obvious brightness 'stepping' during scenes with repeated abrupt transitions between bright and dark shots, though and the Moving Picture Resolution (MPR) of the TX-L32E3B is just 300 lines, so it's unsurprising to find clear signs of softness and resolution loss during camera pans or over fast-moving objects.
However, while this is a significant issue for a few minutes after you first turn the TV on (many LCD TVs need to warm up a bit before they look their best), for most of the time it's only a minor and occasional irritation. The only exception to this is when playing games involving a lot of fast panning around, where the extra softness is more apparent.
Panasonic TX-L32E3B: Sound, value and ease of use
The TX-L32E3B is very slim, which looks great but is bad news for audio. Bass is in very short supply, causing the soundstage to become rather brittle and artificial when the speakers are pushed hard by any sort of action sequence.
This is so common an affliction for super-slim sets, though, that it's hard to consider a truly serious weakness and the set is sufficiently convincing with everyday TV broadcasts.
In terms of overall picture quality – in both standard and high-definition modes – the TX-L32E3B measures up well against the competition, especially if you value naturalism over gaudiness.
However, there are numerous 32-inch TVs around (most noticeably from Samsung and LG) that offer both significant online features and reams of picture calibration aides while costing the same as or less than the TX-L32E3B.
Ease of use
An advantage of the TX-L32E3B's lack of features is that it is easy to use. Aside from the pointless Advanced Features' submenu within the main picture section, there's nothing on either the menus or the TV's remote control to terrify the technophobic.
Panasonic TX-L32E3B: Verdict
The TX-L32E3B's is reasonably attractive, but its connections are limited and the feature list is short, to put it mildly. The pictures, however, are well above average for a TV of this price, with natural colours, decent contrast and a wider than usual viewing angle.
Brightness levels can jump around a bit, thanks to the set's dynamic contrast system and there's resolution loss with motion that's accompanied by blurring for the first few minutes after you turn the TV on from cold each time. The set's audio struggles to do justice to action scenes too, in keeping with most other slim 32-inch TVs.
The TX-L32E3B's edge LED backlighting is surprisingly even and delivers a decent black level response for an affordable 32-inch TV. Colours are very natural too and HD pictures are sharp and detailed. The set is also very easy to use and many people will appreciate its direct, unprocessed video performance.
The lack of features is frustrating; there are limited multimedia tools, which is extremely unusual by today's standards and hardly any picture adjustments beyond the absolute basics. The dynamic contrast system can cause a little brightness inconsistency, too, and there's resolution loss with motion accompanied by smearing when you first turn the TV on.
The TX-L32E3B is decent looking, but not as well built as other Panasonic TVs. It's easy to use, but this is down in part to its lack of features. It's got a LAN port, but this doesn't enable DLNA networking and there's no Viera Connect. Pictures are colourful and rich in contrast, but brightness levels can be inconsistent and there are motion flaws.
Overall, the TX-L32E3B's pictures are good enough to make it a very worthwhile second-room set, but it's neither flexible nor sufficiently feature-laden to do great service as a main TV.
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