Although the Panasonic TX-L32X5 isn't a smart TV and doesn't pretend to offer the future of TV, it does lag behind some of the other key brands in terms of usability. It's not that it suffers from having an ugly, slow or hard to use on-screen interface, but it is a bit old fashioned.
Using blue and yellow graphics, it's interface takes a list-based approach that can be hard to operate from the off, though it's the electronics programme guide (EPG) for Freeview that has the biggest issues.
Although Panasonic has, thankfully, now abandoned the old Gemstar system, the replacement won't wow you. It's not even up to the standard of a cheap standalone set-top box. TV schedules for seven channels over two hours are nicely presented, but the graphical quality is poor and – by far the worst crime – there's no live TV thumbnail screen.
Fancy perusing the next eight days' TV schedules in complete silence? Of course you don't.
Forget iPhone apps or fancy touchpad remotes, the remote control offered here is the basic, smaller Panasonic model used for a few years now. The strong points – large number buttons and obvious channel and volume rockers – remain.
But new commands for activating both Media Player and, rather pointlessly, Viera Tools (repetitive shortcuts to video, music and photos stored on a SD card or USB flash drive) now circle the directional keypad. As traditional remotes go, there are few better.
Media playback is a year behind the curve, with the Panasonic TX-L32X5 performing exactly the same as its 2011 TVs with both SD cards and USB flash drives. There's no support for lossless FLAC music, though MP3, purchased M4A and WMA files all worked fine.
JPEG photos (only) can be scrolled through as a slideshow – set to some elevator music – while video codecs cover AVI, MOV, MP4, WMV and, thankfully, MKV.
Although everything is handled well and plays without a hitch, the remote's navigational buttons refused to play ball.
As a default, the Panasonic TX-L32X5's speakers include speech (harsh and tinny), music (preferable for dialogue-heavy fare, in our opinion) and user (a full equaliser can be accessed) modes, but it's seriously worth considering something separate.
V-Audio adds a little oomph for movies and creates a more balanced sound, though not so you'd notice if you're used to a good sound system or home cinema.
The Panasonic TX-L32X5 is not a bad TV – far from it – but we struggle to see why anyone would plump for this particular model when better choices exist in the same brand's collections. For example, take the Panasonic TX-L32E5B, which for an extra £20/$30 or so adds smart TV and a Full HD resolution.
What the Panasonic TX-L32X5 does achieve is a more versatile approach to all sources; Full HD is great only if you watch Blu-rays, and such a hi-res panel can still leave standard definition looking ropey. So if the living room in question has little interest in gaming, Blu-ray, or smart TV apps, then the Panasonic TX-L32X5 should do the trick.
More ambitious viewers ought to spend a little extra, though that conclusion does leave the Panasonic TX-L32X5 looking a little overpriced.