At around £400, the Panasonic Viera TX-L19D28 isn't exactly cheap for a 19-inch LCD TV. This model is packed with features, though, including an HD Ready resolution, an LED backlight and an iPod dock that lets you listen to music through the TV's speakers, or view photos and videos on the screen.
We had the white version of the TV in for review, which has the model number TX-L19D28BW, but there's also a purple version, the TX-L19D28BP. Apart from the colour, both sets have an identical specification.
Given the small screen size and the fact that this TV uses an LED backlight, the chassis is surprisingly chunky, at nearly 60mm thick. Despite this, it's still one of the better-looking sets we've seen from Panasonic in a while. The combination of the glossy white finish and curvaceous lines on the bezel make it look very stylish.
Around the back, it offers a surprisingly good range of ports for a portable TV. For starters, there are two HDMI sockets, as well as a set of component inputs for hooking up high-definition kit. You also get two Scart sockets, as well as composite and VGA inputs. Alongside the standard analogue stereo output, there's an optical digital output for sending audio from the on-board Freeview tuner to an external amplifier -- something that's not very common on portable sets.
In the box with the TX-L19D28, you'll find a small, white iPod dock that connects to a socket on the rear via a 3-foot cable. Plonk your iPod or iPhone in this dock and the TV automatically switches to the on-screen iPod browser. You can use this to navigate through your library of tunes or to select photos or videos to view on the screen.
The browser is easy to use but it's slightly sluggish to respond to commands from the remote control. There's also a long pause when you first dock your iPod, as the TV scans it to identify various files and folders. Overall, though, we think it's a well-implemented and useful feature.
The set also has an SD card slot, but this can only be used for viewing JPEG pictures or standard- and high-definition AVC video files. Other formats, like Xvid and DivX, aren't supported. Also, there's no USB port, so you can't connect an external hard drive, for example, for media playback.
The TV has a standard Freeview tuner, so you don't get access to high-definition channels like BBC HD and 4 HD. Also, the panel doesn't stretch all the way to a 1080p resolution, stopping short at 1,366x768 pixels, which is closer to 720p. It can accept 1080p signals from a Blu-ray player, for example, but the TV then downscales them to fit its native resolution. The benefits of having a 1080p resolution on a screen this small are debatable anyway.
The small size of the display helps Freeview pictures to look impressively sharp, but the set also has very punchy colours for a portable model. Perhaps this isn't surprising given the fact that it uses an LED backlight.
Portable TVs often have pretty poor black levels, but that's not the case here. The TX-L19D28 conjures up impressively deep blacks and is quite good at drawing out more complex shadow detail, especially when you're using the 'true cinema' picture mode. The set's resolution means it can't deliver the full benefits of 1080p movies via a Blu-ray player, but the picture still looks quite sharp, although motion isn't handled as smoothly as it could be.
The set's 3W speakers aren't exactly going to have the neighbours banging on the walls, but they're certainly loud enough to make themselves heard in a medium-size kitchen or bedroom. Their weakness is highlighted, however, when you play music through them, as, although the bass response at lower volume levels is okay, bass-heavy tracks tend to distort when you push the volume level much past halfway.
Certainly, £400 is a great deal to pay for a 19-inch TV, especially when Toshiba has decent 32-inch models, such as the Regza 32AV615DB, that cost less. But, if you want a smaller set and will make frequent use of the iPod features, then we think the Panasonic Viera TX-L19D28's impressive picture quality, by the standards of portable TVs, goes someway to justifying the price tag.
Edited by Charles Kloet