Top positive review
408 people found this helpful
Well designed, great picture
on 29 June 2013
This TV has replaced my previous Panasonic 37" (TX-L37TU10B) TV. I have been a professional film and video cameraman for many years so picture quality is important to me (although I should emphasise I am using this TV for home not professional use). Although for the last two decades I have used Sony cameras, I now own a broadcast standard Panasonic video camera - in fact much of my home equipment (from breadmaker to still camera) happens to be Panasonic too. This is not down to any particular brand loyalty (and certainly no commercial connection), just that Panasonic make very good quality kit.
Firstly, this TV looks good. Its silver and glass design is restrained and elegant and, because of its thin bezel, feels no more dominant in the living room than than my previous 37" screen.
Printed documentation is minimal but on-screen help is excellent. Setting up the TV is very easy and, when completed, you are presented with choice of 'Home Screen' formats. The default format has the main screen image shrunk to about 3/4 size with a panel to the right giving a scrollable guide to TV channels, at the bottom of the screen you can select from the various other functions. Because there are so many ways of getting programmes on your TV - online, VOD, disc, USB, hard disc, cable and so forth - it is almost impossible to design a simple, clear interface that satisfies all users, but Panasonic have done a pretty good job.
This is, of course. a `smart' TV and among its features are:
- Freeview HD which gives, as would be expected, great picture quality on the four Freeview HD channels. Standard definition channels are also upscaled well - much better than on my previous TV where standard definition pictures had a rather nasty smooth but plasticy quality to skin tones.
- Built-in wi-fi which connected swiftly and painlessly to my home network. YouTube, iPlayer, Netflix and a web browser are all available but not, unfortunately LoveFilm, 4OD or ITVplayer - unfortunate omissions. I've had no problems streaming video through my network. An Ethernet connector is also available for a wired connection.
- A media player that plays from a USB drive or memory stick in one of the two USB ports. This TV plays most standard formats including .mkv, .mp4 and .avi movie files with no problems. Unlike my previous TV there is no SD card slot.
- Media Server. Easily connected via wi-fi to access all the media files on my computer. (I have a Mac and downloaded the free TVMobli software to enable this).
- 3 HDMI ports, 1 scart + 1 component/composite input. (Another HDMI port would be useful given the complexity of many home set-ups these days).
- Digital audio (Toslink) out. Unfortunately, if you run your audio through an analogue hi-fi amp (as I do) there is no analogue audio out but there is a minijack headphone socket which works fine. (I compared the headphone output to the digital audio via a Musical Fidelity DAC and although, switching between the two, the latter was noticeably clearer - airier and with better separation - without a direct comparison, the headphone output is perfectly acceptable). Audio quality from the TV's speakers is OK but no better than would be expected from a thin TV with small speakers.
There are also well designed free iOS and Android Viera apps that turn your phone or tablet into a remote control with the facility to 'swipe and share' video between that device and the TV.
There is no 3D function but this is not something that bothers me at all - if you want 3D, the Panasonic TX-L42ET60B provides it for another £130.
Of course the most crucial feature is picture quality and, I have to say, it is very good indeed. If you delve into advanced settings you can have a huge control over colour management (including individual settings of hue, saturation and luminance for each of the three primaries as well as gamma, gain and signal level) but messing with those is not for the faint hearted. Of the five 'viewing modes' (dynamic, normal, cinema, true cinema and custom) I have gone for 'true cinema' (I like to watch TV with the lights low) and reduced the brightness a little to maintain deep blacks. The pictures I am watching are, if it is not a contradiction, both vibrant and natural with excellent contrast. There is plenty of detail without artificial sharpening and colour purity is good if not excellent. I have a small living room so, viewing angles for those sitting at the side tend to be quite extreme and although there is some fall-off in contrast at the widest angles it is minimal.
Overall, this is an attractive, well designed TV with a great picture. Apart from the minor omissions mentioned above, there is really nothing wrong with this television. I have no hesitation in recommending it.