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There are big problems with the 32A400's Freeview HD software. The electronic programme guide is reasonably well laid-out in terms of easily fetched information, with schedules over two hours provided for seven channels at-a-glance. The blue, black, yellow and white colour scheme is pleasant and the graphics hi-res and clearly read. However, the EPG is not only lacking a live TV thumbnail in one of the corners – something that allows a quick scan of the schedules while watching a TV programme – but engaging it completely silences the TV, too. It makes using digital TV fluently and conveniently impossible.
Even the channel list – accessible during live TV by pressing the OK button – is a drag. Selecting a channel is simple and the 32A400 switches to that channel immediately, but the menu persists until you struggle to find the exit button.
That's unnecessarily long-winded, though it's worth noting that the 32A400 is among the fastest-working TVs we've reviewed in 2014. Menus never hang and lists can be scrolled through exceptionally quickly.
The remote control is typical Panasonic. Though smaller than the one included with its pricer TVs and more akin to what you might expect to find with a DVD or Blu-ray player, it features large buttons for channel changes and volume. What it does lack is a button to bring-up an on-screen reading of what channel you're watching, and what's coming up next on other channels.
The 32A400's handling of digital media is both fluent and comprehensive. Although it is necessary to choose between music, video or photo before attempting to select and play files stored on a USB flash drive, file compatibility is wide.
Video files, which are nicely presented as thumbnails that feature images taken from the file itself stretch to MKV as well as AVI, MP4, FLV and WMV formats. Photos are restricted to JPEGs, but music is from MP3, WMA, FLAC and WAV.
The 32A400's built-in stereo 5W speakers aren't up to much at all, but they ought to suffice for undemanding TV programmes. There are actually two audio modes – music and speech – though both included clipped trebles that affect all speech. However, the speech preset lacks any kind of low frequency, so it's best to stick to the music mode.
Don't bother with the surround mode; in our test while watching both Bosnia Vs Nigeria and Gravity on Blu-ray it made no discernible difference to either the width or depth of sound.
I'd judge the 32A400 as reasonably good value, especially considering its thoroughly modern-looking slim bezel, USB file support and versatile picture performance. Whether the list price is worth paying for any TV with a HD-ready panel is a moot point, given the discounts already available for the 32A400 (it can be found for about £280). And remember: it's precisely that use of a lower resolution panel that helps prevent its main weaknesses from causing problems.
Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),