However casual a TV viewer you are,you can't ignore the looming 'analogue shutdown'.Like it or not, one day you're going to wake up,turn on your old analogue TV,and get nothing but static.So if you're in the market for a new TV,you really should think seriously about making it digital.Especially as integrated digital TVs (idTVs) are getting cheaper,as evidenced by the £450 Panasonic screen here.
Inevitably for such a cut-price option,the 28DTM1 is hardly the most stylish TV in Panasonic's current range.The silvery finish looks plasticky,and the sculpting's a bit cluttered and messy.
Connectivity is bog-standard,too - there's no 4-pin S-Video jack and you only get two Scarts. Still,at least there's a slot for adding optional digital features like the Top-Up TV subscription service,and both Scarts can be switched to output the analogue tuner, the digital tuner,or what the other three AV jacks are receiving - meaning you can watch one analogue channel while recording a different digital one.
Features are dominated by the digital tuner,which is backed up by support for Freeview's 7-day electronic programme guide (EPG); the facility to search the listings by genre; a 'personal planner'; and an 8-event recording timer you can set by simply selecting programmes directly from the EPG.
Otherwise, interesting features are limited to picture noise reduction, which is acceptable for £450.
Probably the strongest suit of the 28DTM1's generally good pictures - produced by Panny's latest Quintrix F tube - is their cleanliness. Images from the digital and analogue tuners look impeccably smooth and direct, with the lack of blocking noise and dot crawl especially commendable.
Colours impress too, thanks to the combination of vibrancy, tonal accuracy and sharp containment. What's more, a decent chunk of this vibrancy owes a debt of gratitude to a tidy black level response - a key picture area that many a budget CRT rival struggles with.
Next to catch our eye is detail in the image.The discipline of colour boundaries,impeccable focus of the CRT mechanism and strong inherent frequency response completely avoid - even with digital feeds - the slightly soft tone commonly witnessed on cheaper CRT sets.
Inevitably the picture isn't perfect. It's a 50Hz TV,so there are traces of the 50Hz flicker effect.Also,the black level response,while mostly good, occasionally feels a touch forced, with dark areas looking slightly hollow and dominant.But that's all.
Panasonic's design for the 28DTM1 doesn't leave much space for the speakers - and this is reflected in its rather mixed sound.Bass is merely adequate; reaching for loud volumes can cause speaker distortion and cabinet hum; the mid-range is clear but stays flat rather than opening up for loud scenes; and trebles are well positioned in the soundstage,but can sound harsh.
Still, the audio is certainly never less than functional.And if you add this to the overall rather pleasing pictures,you've got a new digital proposition from Panasonic that, while no TV classic,certainly represents great value.