With Panasonic being so keen on plasma TVs, we're always thrilled to get our hands on its LCDs, which generally offer a nice alternative to plasma at smaller screen sizes.
The Panasonic Viera TX-37LZD80 offers all of the key features you should be looking out for, such as 1080p, 24p playback and x.v.Colour. For around £750, will it be a good alternative to the company's own 37-inch plasma TVs?
The LZD80 is easy on the eyes. An average-depth bezel surrounds the LCD panel, finished in piano black with a grey hat along the top. This is essentially the standard issue case for most new TVs. It also has a permanent pout, with a bottom lip sticking out of the underside and housing speakers and of course, attitude.
There's an off button and power LED on the left of the screen, and to the right-hand side of the screen are some rubberised control keys. You'll also find composite and S-Video inputs here for hooking up camcorders and the like. It's also the location of the third HDMI socket. At the rear of the set, you get the usual assortment of connections: VGA, two Scarts, two HDMIs and component video-in. You'll also find an optical digital audio output, for connecting the TV to an AV receiver.
The remote control that comes with the TV is the standard Panasonic affair. It's sturdy and the buttons are in the right place. We really like the Panny remotes; they have a feeling of quality about them, and the TV's menus respond quickly to button presses.
The Panasonic offers a full-range of support for pretty much every type of signal you can throw at it. Obviously, it's happy with every HD variant, including 24p playback from Blu-ray. This is great, but something we'd expect on a 1080p TV.
To help sound on its way, you also get BBE ViVA HD3D Sound, a processing system designed to provide a sort of virtual surround sound. Of course, this technique is never going to produce realistic effects behind you -- as a full 5.1 system would -- but we found it did improve the clarity of speech and increased the stereo separation.
As you would expect, the LZD80 has a built-in Freeview tuner, and with it an eight-day EPG, so you can look through the upcoming programmes and decide what you want to watch. You can also schedule timers to remind you when a programme is about to start -- handy if you're forgetful.
You also get an SD card reader for looking at digital photos, as long as your camera stores photos on SD. It goes without saying that Panasonic's digital cameras do.
In our Blu-ray testing, Casino Royale was full of all its usual charm. We ran some tests using the HQV benchmarking Blu-ray and were satisfied that the TV managed to perform pretty well on most tests.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse also looked good: details appeared in the early scenes before everything goes dark. We even noticed a squirrel that had escaped our attention in previous viewings. The colour was bright and vivid and we generally found the picture quite pleasing.