The TX-L37E30B is well equipped to be the hub of any home entertainment system. Rear-placed connectivity is extensive, with three HDMI inputs, a PC D-sub connection, single Scart, Ethernet LAN, plus phono stereo and optical digital audio outputs. There are also two USB inputs.
As the set does not have integrated Wi-Fi, you'll probably want to use one of these for Panasonic's dedicated (optional) Wi-Fi dongle, the DV-WL10. The other is best partnered with the £130 TY-CC10 HD Skype webcam. This can be positioned above or below the screen and has a wide mic array.
The left-hand side of the screen offers auxiliary access, including a fourth HDMI input, a third USB slot for media playback, phono AV inputs, headphone jack, CI cam slot and SD card reader. The latter has the most sophisticated Viera media player software we've seen to date; you can browse digital still images using transitional Fade, Slide, Dissolve and Random effects, or opt for a slideshow option with background music (yes, you can choose your own track).
Fancy display options include a nine-photo grid, collage, drift effect and gallery. You can even view snaps through a sepia cinema filter. Alternatively, you can just play back your photos in rapid fire with the Burst mode. Naturally, the USB media player will also handle AVCHD movies shot on a camcorder.
The right-hand side of the TV offers on-set channel/volume controls, should you lose the remote down the back of the sofa. The key onscreen navigation area is the Viera Tools bar. It's from here you'll browse your media via dedicated Photo, Video, Music and Recorded TV icons.
An extra Media Server tab pulls up all the DLNA devices on your home network. This TX-L37E30B sample found all our devices without any hiccups. We chose to use a wired network connection.
DLNA compatibility is always something of a mixed bag, with variable results depending on what flavour and vintage of DLNA server you're running. New this year is the option to stream content from compatible Panasonic DIGA DVD and Blu-ray recorders.
Media playback on this set is extremely good. You can peruse music by folder, drill down to tracks and then play back with graphics. Audio support covers MP3, AAC and WMA (but not FLAC, Ogg or other exotica).
The screen found our music server without missing a beat, recognised album art when browsing tracks and displayed both art and artist when playing music. By way of comparison, a Samsung UE55D8000 sample could not manage this, failing to identify the artist metadata and display album art.
With this year's models, Panasonic has dramatically improved its video file support. Across our test network, the TX-L32E30 recognised all containers and played every video file in the networked test folder: AVCHD, DivX, AVI, MKV, MP4, MOV and MPEGs. It only tripped up on SRT subtitles. However, when we played back the same test file from a local USB drive, the SRT subtitle was immediately recognised.
The new Viera Connect IPTV and app portal is a significant advance over the previous Viera Cast system. While the two may seem stylistically similar, the scope and scale of Connect is seismically different.
BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Daily Motion, Acetrax and Cinetrailers offer immediate visual distraction, and there are social media apps for Facebook, Picasa and Twitter. The Connect Home page leads through to the Viera Market, which is a searchable, expanding content resource.