Panasonic Viera TX-L37G15 review
When you can buy a good 37in LCD TV for £500, you'd be forgiven for wondering why Panasonic is charging double this for its latest Viera.
However, there are many reasons for the extra cost, not least of which is the inclusion of a Freesat HD tuner in addition to the usual Freeview and analogue ones.
There's also Viera Cast, which is Panasonic's on-demand TV and internet portal. It provides a slick interface to YouTube, Google's Picasa Web Albums and EuroSport clips, plus weather and stocks information from Bloomberg. There's currently no access to UK on-demand services such as the BBC's iPlayer, though. All you need to get Viera Cast working is to connect the Ethernet port on the rear of the TV to your router.
The TX-L37G15 also supports DLNA, so you can access content stored on a server, such as a PC elsewhere in your home, to watch movies, slideshows and listen to music. An SDHC card slot allows you to access photos and videos directly from a memory card, which is ideal if your camera uses this popular format. DivX, AVCHD and MPEG2 video formats are supported.
The screen has a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels and Panasonic claims a dynamic contrast ratio of 20,000:1. We were impressed with the quality, whether watching Freesat or Freeview programmes. Standard- definition broadcasts were well processed, and text looked smoother than on other HD TVs we've seen.
Panasonic has also included motion-smoothing technology. This can be set to Mid or Max, but we found that both modes introduced flickering in many scenes of our Blu-ray test movie. Even set to Max, motion wasn't quite as smooth as on Philips' HD TVs with HD Natural Motion. Still, HD programmes and Blu-ray movies looked very sharp, and colours were accurate. Viewing angles are wide, and colours remain saturated even at the widest angles. Contrast is impressive, although there's no control over the backlight - just a standard contrast slider.
Menus are exceptionally easy to navigate, but it's frustrating that advanced image options are separated out into the Setup section. We like Owner ID, though, which lets you enter your name and address to help identify the TV if it's stolen. The programme guide shows seven channels at a time in landscape mode, but you can switch to portrait view to display a single channel's programme list. You can set reminders, which automatically switch the TV on from standby just before the show starts.
We like the TX-L37G15, mainly for its raft of features, but also for its great image quality. However, Viera Cast is currently underwhelming for UK users and, unless you really want a Freesat HD tuner, there are better- value choices, such as LG's 37LG5000.
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