Panasonic TX-L37V10B £1250
18th Jun 2009 | 08:30
Pansonic's TX-L37V10B is a feature-rich, full HD panel with limited internet capability
The TX-37V10B may not be the first TV we've seen with internet connectivity, but few of its peers can match the well-rounded nature of its spec sheet.
Leaving the Viera Cast web access aside for a moment, we note the 1080p panel and four HDMIs, one of which is located on the bottom of the chassis away from the main cluster, presumably for wall-mounting purposes. The panel is driven by the fourth generation of the company's much-envied V-real Pro processing suite.
Panasonic has dispensed with the increasingly obsolescent S-video input and criminally cruddy composite inputs, neither of which could be gainfully employed on a set of this calibre. An optical video jack channels digital audio to external amplification if required, while an SD Card slot accommodates photos and other mixed media.
Viera Cast, then, is a clever, albeit heavily restricted, way of accessing the internet from the comfort of your armchair without having to go through a PC. The TX-37V10B is able to hook up to a handful of news and entertainment websites including YouTube and the Picasa online photo-sharing facility. While this is all very smart and very 'now', we can't help feeling that internet connectivity (here and on the other, similarly equipped sets we've seen) is merely a modish gimmick.
The internet is popular because of its almost infinite scope, so limiting access to a few Panasonic-picked sites, and having to navigate by remote rather than keyboard, seems self-defeating. Not least because the sort of person prepared to splash more than a grand on a 37in TV probably has other, less inherently hobbled means of accessing the web at their disposal.
Ease of use
Panasonic's is one of the better operating systems around and the clear, no-nonsense GUI (graphical user interface) combines nicely with a logical and intuitive architecture. The EPG is also admirably clear and uncluttered, with the tuner's operating system fitting seamlessly into the set's general menu layout.
There's also a new, extremely snazzy 'Viera Tools' submenu that uses photograph-style icons for the array of multimedia functions, including photo slideshows and DivX playback.
PRESS ON: The TX-L37V10B's remote control has big, chunky and easy to use buttons
The remote control, meanwhile, is a lesson in handheld ergonomics, with big, clearly labelled keys arranged with impeccable logic, so that the oft-used buttons fall comfortably to hand (or rather, to finger).
Expectation is high for Panasonic TVs, and it's credit to the TX-L37V10B that it mostly lives up to, and in some cases even surpasses, its illustrious forebears. The colours are refreshingly realistic without edging into being garish or strident, as lesser liquid crystal sets are occasionally wont to do. Flesh tones are accurate, varying shades are blended with an impressive amount of finesse.
Also, while there is no overt, Resolution+-style upscaling trickery, the set manages to map standard-def sources onto that 1080p panel neatly, without pictures looking awkwardly stretched.
Pictures are also notably clean, with even typically difficult material, such as the monotonously beige, suburban scenes at Harry's muggle home in the Prisoner of Azkaban, are rendered free of any specs, grain or general digital noise.
Blacks are pretty solid. They never manage plasma-type depth, but survive being watched in a darkened room and retain an acceptable amount of detail and distinction between shades.
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Panasonic's TX-L37V10B is a real killer, performance-wise, handling even the most difficult HD scenes with poise
Predictably, HD showcases the set's ability to best effect, but DVDs polish up well and with a pleasing amount of detail.
Freeview looks about as ugly as it always does when blown up to this sort of size, but the TX-L37V10B manages to make a tidy job of it, with acceptable edge discipline and decent overall stability.
The slender frame and remarkably discreet speakers make any kind of audio competence an achievement of sorts, and the Panasonic produces a generally faithful performance with a surprising amount of muscle. Its bass won't shake your floorboards, but it's more than adequate with TV broadcasts and makes a reasonable fist of movie soundtracks.
The TX-37V10B is one of the pricier LCD TVs of its size around at the moment, but it is also one of the best. Some may lay claim to better pictures, others may offer better value and not everyone is going to be persuaded by the benefits of Viera Cast, but few of its rivals combine the Panasonic's looks, spec and general performance in quite such a tempting package.
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