Panasonic TX-32DTM1 review

A top-of-the-range telly with a digital tuner

Our Verdict

Mostly delightful digital pictures but the uninspiring sound doesn't do them justice

For

  • Pictures mostly

    Price

    Ease of use

Against

  • Looks cheap

    Sound only average

    No four-pin S-Video

    Only one RGB Scart

As you'd expect of a TV that's far from the cheapest 32in model out there, Panasonic's TX- 32DTM1 has a couple of key claims to fame. First and foremost, there's a built-in digital tuner for receiving the full Freeview service. Second, it uses the latest generation of the acclaimed Quintrix tube technology. But does it back all this up with a strong performance?

It's rather bland by Panasonic's usual high aesthetic standards; a slightly untidy looking shape encased in a plasticky,drab finish. And its exterior doesn't redeem itself with any connections glory. There's a CAM slot for adding extra digital services such as Top-Up TV, but you only get two Scarts, a composite jack and the tuner input. There's not even a dedicated four-pin S-Video socket.

In terms of features, there's little to speak of beyond the digital tuner. A seven-day electronic programme guide helps you navigate the digital channels (from which you can choose up to eight events to record), plus there's a fairly standard noise reduction system.

Panasonic's Quintrix tubes seldom fail to impress with their pictures. The image's directness is particularly easy on the eye; your connection with what you're watching is completely unimpeded by noise, be it MPEG blocking from digital broadcasts, grain, moiring over fine details, or edge haloing. It really is one of the cleanest pictures - especially with digital fare - that we've seen for this sort of money.

The picture colours are also very likeable. Saturations are fulsome and noiseless, the tone is overtly natural, and the dynamic range is extreme without becoming uncontrolled.

Next to impress is the image's sharpness. On occasion, this has been a rare weakness of Quintrix tubes,but here the picture has clean-cut edges and plenty of fine detail - even with notoriously soft digital tuner broadcasts.

Picture imperfect

There are really only two serious problems with the 32DTM1's pictures. First, there's a tendency to over-egg dark areas so that while they look impressively black, they also lack shadow detail and depth. Second, the 50Hz flicker is slightly more noticeable than we'd like.

The 32DTM1's audio proves a bit average, truth be told.The speakers look rather puny, and that's exactly how they sound. Bass levels are lacking in terms of relative volume and frequency depth, yet they can still cause the cabinet to rattle at loud volumes. At the other end of the spectrum,trebles can sound harsh. As for the mid-range, it doesn't have the capacity to open up for louder scenes.

That said, the sonics are lifted to the average level by some decent clarity in the mid-range, the accurate positioning of high-frequency effects, and a nice, clean tone during undemanding TV viewing.

There's no denying that overall the Panasonic's attractive pictures deserve better audio - a situation sadly given emphasis by the fact that it's the only reason the 32DTM1 doesn't score top marks.