Panasonic's D25 series screens sport both Freeview HD (DVB-T) and Freesat HD (DVB-S) tuners, making it extremely easy for viewers to get their fix of subscription free high-definition telly. For those not yet living in a Freeview HD reception area, the satellite tuner is a welcome alternative. All you need is a feed from a Sky dish to get access to a plethora of programming, including the two BBC HD channels and ITV 1 HD.
Both tuners can be run simultaneously. You can select between the two tuners (and an analogue tuner if required) via the TV button on the remote control. This pulls up a simple list menu; just select the source you prefer.
IPS LCD panels have been around for some time now, but this is one of the first LED variants and represents a significant improvement on standard LCDS in terms of contrast and vibrancy, even when viewing from a less than ideal angle.
IPS contrast and colour is effective up to 178 degrees off-axis, making the set ideal for a family room. Naturally, there's all manner of picture processing onboard. To help the screen reduce motion blur, Panasonic has its own 100Hz picture engine dubbed Intelligent Frame Creation Pro.
The big buzz for 2011 is predicted to be online content. If your next TV doesn't connect to the internet, then you're going be a social pariah down the rotary club. Panasonic's online content offering is called Viera Cast. Just as with Sony's Bravia Internet Video portal and Samsung's Internet@TV platform, it's a walled garden with no access to the wider web.
This is not necessarily a problem, though, as Panasonic provides a wide range of useful IPTV content. Free to watch services include the ubiquitous YouTube, the knock-off Daily Motion, Acetrax (a Pay-Per-View movie streaming service), Eurosport and Euronews.
You can also add a webcam to make Skype video calls or browse jpegs on Picasa. If you get really desperate, you can always catch up on some German-language news and pop. While there is no BBC iPlayer integrated into the Viera Cast portal, you can get it via the Freesat tuner. Just select it via the red button – note that this only gives access to the standard definition iPlayer stream.
As with any self-respecting network television, you can also use it to stream content from other devices on your home network. File support is a little on thin side, though. While the set is DLNA compliant and can stream AVCHD from a network location (PC or NAS), it doesn't seem able to read AVI or MKV wrapped test content.
The TV's media playback abilities flip when the same selection of file types is presented on a local USB device. AVCHD recordings are ignored, but AVI test files play, along with SRT subtitle files. MKVs however are persona non grata; an unfortunate omission that the brand needs to address.
The provision of an integrated SD card slot is probably more useful. This plays back hi-res jpegs and AVCHD recordings and supports cards up to the latest SDXC standard.