Panasonic viera tx-l32s10

Tweaking the picture settings won't take long; rudimentary control for brightness, colour and so on are about all that's provided. If you do feel robbed of the chance of performing a proper calibration to Hollywood Studio standards, you should already be aiming for something a bit further up the flatscreen food chain.

For the casual user, the lack of tweakable menus is no disaster and elsewhere the simple on-screen menus couldn't be easier to navigate. Tired, yes, but effective.

From kick-off the TX-L32S10 immediately starts tuning in Freeview TV channels, while kudos for its ease of use goes to the Viera Tools shortcut screen, which pops up 'widget' style from the bottom of the screen. Its coloured icons give direct access to pause live TV (if you have a Panasonic Diga recorder attached), Viera Link (to operate a Blu-ray player from the TV's remote), photo slideshows set to music, or to video stored on an SD Card.

Playback issues

The latter is most disappointing; the TX-L32S10 claims to play movies, though in our tests it didn't recognise a single file from our cornucopia of MOV, MPEG, DivX, MKV, MP4 and WMV material. Only the AVC-HD format, used on Panasonic's HD camcorders, is coped with, though for a modern TV not to even play MP3 music is rare.

It's in sharp contrast to the likes of Samsung and LG, whose similarly priced TVs have advanced media players that deftly can handle music and DivX and even DivX HD video files.

The Viera Image Viewer software is excellent, with one-touch JPEG slideshows that load instantly and play over around 25 seconds of looped music.

Positives

More friendly frippery comes in the form of Viera Link, Panasonic's attempt to eliminate at least one remote control from your burgeoning collection. If you've a Blu-ray player or home cinema system made by Panasonic and (crucially for the latter) connected to this TV via HDMI, the TX-L32S10's remote can master everything using a single menu on the TV.

Away from such gimmicks, it's worth noting that the panel inside the TX-L32S10 is a bit special. Called IPS Alpha, it's a special kind of LCD panel that's only used in Panasonic TVs. Richer colours, better contrast and a much wider viewing angle than ordinary LCDs; that was the original intention on their inception a few years ago, and the wider viewing angle, in particular, remains a distinct advantage.