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Panasonic Viera TX-L32D28BP review

Jim Martin
21 May 2010
Panasonic Viera TV-L32D28BP
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
998
inc VAT

Good looking and packed with features including Freeview HD and Freesat. However, image quality isn't outstanding, and for this price, it should be.

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Specifications

32in, Freesat HD, Freeview HD, analogue, 1,920x1,080 resolution, 3D: , 4x HDMI

We know what you're thinking, because we were thinking it too: has Panasonic gone mad? £1,000 for a 32in LCD TV is a crazy amount of money these days, especially when you can buy one of the firm's excellent 42in plasma models for roughly the same price.

However, Panasonic is determined to prove that it's just as good at making LCD TVs as it is plasmas and has crammed an almost insane number of features into the brand new Viera TX-L32D28BP (which we'll call the D28 for simplicity's sake from here on in).

Unfortunately, the chasm between LCD and plasma is a large one, especially where contrast is concerned. All the more surprising is that, even though this is an LED-based TV, rather than put the LEDs behind the screen in an array, Panasonic has chosen to stick them around the edges. This makes it harder to do local dimming, which is one of the techniques backlit LED TVs use to increase their apparent contrast.

Still, at around 60mm deep, this is still a thin TV that will look good wall mounted. The bundled stand sits behind the screen and can't really be seen from the front at the screen sits so low. It's also tilted back a few degrees, presumably to offset the low-slung design and retain a square-on viewing angle when you're sat on your sofa.

The bezel of our review model had a subtle purple hint, but you can also choose silver or white models. Although the bezel looks ridged, it's an effect as it's totally flat to the touch.

Looks are important, but so are the innards, and the D28 is more than a match for its rivals. It has both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners, so wherever you live in the UK, you'll be able to watch the World Cup in high definition. There's even an analogue tuner as a backup.

Two USB ports allow you to connect an optional webcam - for use with the built-in Skype application - and a WiFi dongle for a wireless network connection for Skype and the rest of the Viera Cast network services. Of course, if you connect both, you can't then plug in a USB keyboard, which is supported for entering text in Viera Cast.

You'd also need a USB port to plug in a flash drive to watch videos and photo slideshows (the D28 supports DivX HD, AVCHD and JPEG formats), but there's an SDXC slot as well. This exists because Panasonic's digital cameras and camcorders use SD cards and take pictures and video in these formats. MP3 and AAC music files can also be played by the built-in media player, while a more limited selection of video formats can be streamed from a DLNA server across your network.

Unfortunately, Viera Cast - Panasonic's web portal - hasn't changed all that much. Apart from Skype, Daily Motion has been added to the lineup, but there's still no iPlayer, Demand Five, ITV Player or Channel 4OD. LoveFilm's new streaming service is also absent - Sony's new Bravia Internet TV service has this, as does Samsung's.

The main menus and EPG haven't altered noticeably either. The programme guide shows up to seven channels at once, but it's not as pretty as some. You can search by genre and we like the ability to filter channels to show only free-to-air ones, plus create up to four favourites lists for each member of the family. Annoyingly though, there's no thumbnail view of the programme you're watching, and audio is muted as well. The Freesat guide is completely separate and can only be accessed by switching modes using the remote's TV button.

One new feature, which has been getting enthusiasts excited, is the ability to connect up to 2TB of external USB storage to turn the D28 into a limited PVR. There are two modes: one-touch and 'rewind live TV'. The first allows you to record what you're currently watching, up to three hours continuously. The second, which has to be enabled in the menu, acts like a tradtional PVR, recording constantly from the moment you switch to a channel. This lets you pause and rewind shows - even in HD.

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