The Panasonic Viera TX-32LMD70 is a sturdy-looking, simple to set up LCD television that should be of interest to the people who don't want their whole living room dominated by an enormous plasma.
We're pretty pleased Panasonic has decided not to go down the piano-black route with the TX-32LMD70 -- it's quickly becoming as common as Jade Goody. Panasonic has opted instead for a simple matte-black design with a minimal amount of silver trim. It may not be the most exciting design in the world, but we doubt it will date as fast as piano black.
The front of the television has no buttons to interrupt the styling -- controls for turning the TV on and off can be found at the top of the set, along with the volume and channel controls.
At the rear of the set are two HDMI sockets, which is about standard for a TV of this size. Generally we'd like to see three HDMI sockets, but two is probably enough for most people. There is a pair of Scart sockets too, as well as component in, for high-definition devices that don't have HDMI out. We're pleased to note both of the Scart sockets support RGB inputs, essential for getting the best out of digital services such as Freeview and Sky. There's also an analogue VGA input for hooking up a PC or media centre.
The remote control is short and sturdy in both appearance and feel. Relevant buttons are nice and large, and the channel and volume controls are exactly where you would expect to find them. Making changes to the television's configuration was simple too. In the past we've found some Panasonic hardware to be very difficult to control. This isn't the case with this screen. The menus are simple, and they're context sensitive, so you only see the options relevant to the mode you're in. For example, no TV tuning options are visible when the TV is set to HDMI in.
When you first turn this television on it performs a set-up routine. This is extremely simple to use, and is also one of the fastest auto-tunes we've ever seen. The Panasonic searched for and found both digital and analogue stations at the same time. The whole process just took a couple of minutes, which was a real breath of fresh air.
The built-in Freeview programme guide also allows you to filter which channels you see. This simple one-button solution means that if you only want to see free channels listed in your line-up then you can. There's also an option to browse just radio services. This isn't a groundbreaking function, but it will please you if you aren't interested in certain channels.
On Freeview we found the image quality of the Viera TX-32LMD70 to be very watchable. We thought the colours were very natural and not over-emphasised. The picture was also sharp and had enough detail -- too often with LCDs, manufacturers compensate for the deficiencies in standard-definition performance by softening the picture to disguise problems, but not here. Deal or no Deal showed Noel Edmonds in all his glory -- his skin tones were as natural-looking as they can be, and the red boxes didn't seem to be artificially bright.
On high-definition video from our Toshiba HD-E1 HD DVD player we were pleased to see plenty of detail in the picture. Black levels were generally good, although some looked slightly blue. Our usual test disc, Happy Gilmore, saw natural motion and nice bright colours with plenty of detail. Serenity looked crisp -- while the grain from the original film was present, there was a pleasing amount of detail in the picture too.
Sound performance on the Panasonic was also very good indeed. This TV has speakers mounted at the front, and we found dialogue during our films to be very clear. This wasn't at the expense of bass though -- during the action sequences of Serenity there was more than enough oomph in the low frequencies to make us feel part of the action in outer space.
Switching the sound mode to speech and music left audio sounding hollow and reminded us of being in a large cave. The music mode, however, seemed to suit both music and speech, so we left the TV set to that preset.
The Panasonic Viera TX-32LMD70 is a sturdy and easy-to-use television. There are no fancy bells and whistles, but it takes no time at all to set up and the picture and sound quality are both good. Although on Freeview the picture wasn't the best we've seen, it's hard to otherwise fault this television. Other options are the Sony Bravia KDL-32V2000 and the Toshiba 32WLT68, both of which offer slightly better performance, albeit at a significantly higher price.
We'd recommend this television to people who want to get a flat screen, are interested in getting some sort of high-definition service either now or in the future but want a hassle-free experience.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide