Panasonic TX-L37E5B review

Upscale 37-inch Edge LED set with engaging smart dimension

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The TX-L37E5B is straddled by a yellow, blue and black user interface that's instantly recognisable to owners of Panasonic TVs from years gone by.

A VIERA Tools menu has been added to the bottom of the screen – complete with a shortcut on the remote – but it contains only lesser-used functions to do with viewing digital files and streaming.

The ability to rename the individual inputs thankfully remains – we adore this feature (it cuts down on explaining time when less than tech-savvy relatives and friends come to stay).

However, fiddling with the picture, sound and settings menus immediately produces a progress bar along the bottom of the screen, which is a long-winded way to make changes.

With the latest firmware downloaded (an all too common occurrence for smart TVs) and the TX-L37E5B re-booted, VIERA Connect impresses.

The success of the platform isn't in doubt, and though some don't like the way it's split between screens – and several screens, at that, if you download a lot of apps – it's easily customisable to bring the heavyweight services on to a single screen.

What is a bit of shame is that a specific arrow icon has to be scrolled to, to go back or forwards a screen; it would be far easier just to point the remote's arrow keys either up or down.

The VIERA Tools pop-up menu only works from the live TV screen, but only presents shortcuts to playing photos, videos and music from a docked USB device, or via the flaky media server function.

Panasonic TX L37E5B review

From a USB stick we managed to play FLAC and MP3 music alongside JPEG photos, AVI, AVC HD, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPEG and even WMV and WMV HD files. Impressive – and so is the thumbnail treatment – and it gets better using DLNA to hook up to a PC.

In our test, we homed in on a Samsung netbook sporting Windows 7, from which the TX-37E5B played MOV, MP4, AVC HD and AVI video files.

Panasonic TX L37E5B review

Sound

Its twin 10W speakers are hidden beneath the screen, though engaging V-Audio mode (using the remote control's 'Surround' toggler) does appear to lift the sound somewhat.

Treble effects, which are pretty detailed though a tad harsh at high volumes, are pushed nicely to the sides to open the soundstage.

V-Audio Surround doesn't make much difference and certainly doesn't bring any sense of rear surround effects, but it's worth trying out.

Overall the speakers are just about powerful enough for using with movies; we'd recommend using the 'normal' mode for general TV duties and V-Audio for movies.

Value

The TX-L37E5B is a relatively high-end option when compared to the £300 supermarket cheapies, but it's eons ahead of that kind of competition.

With a relatively wide viewing angle and a decent all-round performance, it excels with good HD sources but has enough in the way of colour and contrast to please most viewers most of the time.

Having said that, it's probably the luscious-looking – and relatively content-rich – VIERA Connect smart TV dimension that will convince most potential buyers to upgrade from a cheaper model.