For better or for worse, the obsession with 1080p is in full swing. Apparently, the punters are even starting to demand the necessary 1,920x1,080-pixel counts in TVs as small as 32 inches. Where there's a demand, TVs like Panasonic's new £800 Viera TX-32LZD85 will be only too happy to meet it.
The first thing you notice about the 32LZD85 is that it's cute. Not jaw-droppingly, eye-poppingly gorgeous, but certainly cute, chiefly thanks to a little whitish arc added along the bottom edge. It contrasts beautifully with the glossy black of the rest of the TV's bezel.
Dragging your eyes away to the TV's rear continues the good first impressions, as you discover an SD card slot for the direct playback of digital photos, and two of the three HDMI inputs, all built to the latest v1.3 specification for Panasonic's deep x.v.Colour and auto lip-synching compatibility. What's more, the HDMIs can take 1080p/24p feeds from Blu-ray players, with the TV then playing those pictures back using a dedicated 24p mode designed to offer greater purity and fluidity than you would see otherwise.
Significantly, the 32LZD85 carries two separate processing systems devoted to making motion look sharper with anything you watch: 100Hz and Motion Focus. Having watched the Champions League final on the set, we can confirm that these two systems do a cracking job. The players looked pin-sharp as they charged around, but crucially, this motion sharpness was achieved with precious little in the way of negative processing side effects. Excellent.
With no motion blur to detract from the picture's sharpness, we were also free to appreciate just how exceptionally crisp and detailed the 32LZD85 looks with high-definition material, bringing out every last pixel of the superbly 'HD' Blu-ray transfer of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In fact, the 32LZD85's pictures are so sharp that they suggest 1080p resolutions can make a difference at the 32-inch screen size level after all.
The work of the Panasonic V-Real 3 picture processing engine creates this acute sharpness without a trace of video noise, be it grain, dot crawl or edge shimmer. Throw in some of the richest but most natural colours in the LCD world, some really impressive black levels and a terrifically helpful operating system, and it looks like we'll really be struggling to find much to say in the weaknesses section of this review.
There's really only one negative thing we can think of to say about the 32LZD85's picture quality. Fast patches of movement, such as the ball following a goal kick or long clearance in the Champions League final, can suffer with a slight flickering effect. This is presumably caused by the reams of picture processing being applied to the picture struggling to keep up with the speed of the action.
Otherwise, the only downer about this excellent Panasonic TV is its slightly steep price. As we're so often forced to conclude, if you want the best, you usually have to pay for it.
Panasonic might still be convinced that plasma technology is the only way to go with big-screen flat tellies, but the 32LZD85 proves in no uncertain terms that the brand knows its LCD onions too.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday