Panasonic's 32in TX-32DTX40, is one of only two CRTs available with a digital tuner. This gives it an immediate edge, as it can receive the 30-plus channels available from the digital Freeview service. But is this the Panny's only claim to fame?
Certainly not. Its aesthetics also mark it out as something special thanks to a lovely high-gloss, deep grey/nearly black screen frame, accessorised tastefully with a lighter grey outer frame. Gorgeous. Socketry rates as pretty decent for an IDTV, in that Panny has retained three Scarts (two RGB) even though the built-in digital tuner means you don't need to use a Scart for attaching an external digital receiver.
There's also a slot for a conditional access module to upgrade to Pay TV services. The TX-32DTX40 has three features interesting enough to mention. The first is the screen's 100Hz picture processing. The second is its single-tuner picture-in- picture system. And the third is an electronic programme guide that assembles its information impressively quickly compared to many digital rivals.
The EPG doesn't totally rock, however, since it doesn't maintain a small version of the current TV picture while you browse, and doesn't support proper genre searching. Piping our Troy test disc into the Panny revealed that its pictures are especially noteworthy for their colours. To appreciate the full flavour of their richness, vibrancy and naturalism, just check out the collection of stills that the DVD cycles through on its main menu screen.
Colours are so rich that they make the picture look solid and three-dimensional enough to chisel chunks off it. Much of this solidity also comes from the Panny's superior 100Hz processing. And this processing is also noteworthy for leaving action-packed scenes, like the rolling of burning wooden balls onto Agamemnon's forces, looking entirely free of any nasty processing side effects, be it smearing or colour muting.
The amount of depth in the shots of the massed ranks of soldiers on the field of Thessaly reveals a couple more picture strengths: impressively sharp, but seldom over-stressed, edge definition, and a contrast range that is able to eke out even the most subtle parts of any dark picture segment.
If we were to be very picky, we might say that exceptionally textured shots - like those where Hector and his father look down across Troy to the hills and valleys beyond - could use a tiny bit more fine detail. But it's a minor point.
Sonically the TX-32DTX40 is about par for the mid-range TV course. As such, when Troy finally gets sacked, while we were pleased with the width and depth of the Panasonic's soundstage, we couldn't help but notice that dialogue sounded a touch boxed in, and that bass is in somewhat short supply.
While not a perfect TV, the Panasonic TX-32DTX40 is a hugely accomplished one. It's also quite comfortably one of the best IDTVs we've ever seen.