The Viera TX-L32E3B sits at the bottom of Panasonic's range of LED TVs. Apart from its LED backlight, it doesn't offer all that much in the way of features, lacking the 200Hz processing found on the step-up E30 range, as well as Internet capability. Priced at around £450, this 32-inch, 1080p set is fairly cheap by LED standards, but does it represent a good option for bargain hunters?
If there's one area in which Panasonic has been consistently weak, it's design. Previous models have looked functional at best, and downright boring at worst. But Panasonic's made more of an effort with its 2011 line-up. The TX-L32E3B isn't exactly a stunner, but its slim chassis and clean, angular lines means it looks distinctive and sharply tailored.
As this is an entry-level TV, the line-up of ports is slightly less impressive than that of Panasonic's higher-end sets. For example, you only get three HDMI ports, rather than the four that are now pretty much standard on pricier 32-inch tellies. Nevertheless, there are VGA, component and Scart inputs, so, unless you've got masses of gear, this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Sadly, this model lacks networking support. The set has an Ethernet port, but it isn't actually enabled. In fact, it only seems to be there because it's a prerequisite for Freeview HD certification. As a result, you don't get access to the online services supported on Panasonic's E30 sets, such as BBC iPlayer.
There's also no media-streaming support, and, as the set lacks a USB port, you can't even use it to play back media files from USB keys or hard drives. This is disappointing given that even Tesco and Dixons' own-brand models now support digital media playback.
You do, however, get a Freeview HD tuner, so you can at least appreciate the delights of Come Dine With Me in HD on Channel 4, for example.
The TV is built around one of Panasonic's 1080p IPS Alpha panels. One of the benefits of IPS technology is that it offers a wider-than-usual viewing angle, so colours and contrast remain impressively consistent even if you're sitting at a pretty extreme angle to the TV.
Other picture-tweaking goodies are few and far between. The TX-L32E3B relies on the company's basic V-Real Plus picture-processing system, and it's only a standard 50Hz model.
Nevertheless, pictures look surprisingly clean, and even standard-definition channels on Freeview are pleasantly upscaled to the panel's native resolution. The colour palette is bright and punchy, but rarely strays into oversaturated territory. Detail on HD feeds, such as the BBC HD channel on Freeview, is razor-sharp. Black levels are impressively deep too, which in turn helps to give images the high-contrast, cinematic look that's just ace for watching movies on Blu-ray.
On the downside, the set suffers from some motion blur. Panasonic claims the TV only has a motion resolution of 300 lines, and this is very noticeable, especially with HD material when there's plenty of movement in the frame. Another issue is that the backlight isn't quite as consistent across the entire image as it could be, but, then again, this is a problem that affects even more expensive LED models.
The TX-L32E3B's chassis is quite slim. Thin sets often compromise on sound quality, as there's no room left for decently sized speakers. Panasonic has avoided this problem by flaring the chassis out slightly at the bottom in order to fit in larger-than-usual speakers. It's a clever move, because the audio quality is noticeably better than that of most competing TVs, offering deeper bass and a more full-bodied, pleasing sound.
Overall, the Panasonic Viera TX-L32E3B is a good option if you fancy an LED set, but don't want to pay through the nose for it. Its picture quality is, on the whole, very good and its audio isn't bad either. It's a shame, though, that its motion handling isn't better and that Panasonic hasn't added any support for digital media playback.
Edited by Charles Kloet