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Panasonic TX-32CS510 review

Is there still a place for brand new, almost HD, TVs?

Panasonic TX-32CS510 review
Great Value
The Panasonic TX-32CS510 offers pretty high spec for such a budget set

The 32CS510 has a lot on its plate, but a souped-up processor allows it to skip quickly between Freetime, myHomeScreen apps, networking and external devices.

Add some clean, bold images and the 32CS510 succeeds in its mission to be a great value, versatile TV for a bedroom.

We liked

The provision of Freetime is excellent – especially on a TV this affordable – as is the Swipe and Share functionality on the Panasonic Remote 2 app for phones and tablets. Trading digital files is an excellent feature, while digital file support in general is more than adequate.

The HD-ready LED panel will be seen by many as a low-point, though it's an honest approach from Panasonic, which is obviously trying to keep the price down by offering real-world specs.

The result is clear, clean images from all sources, since a lot less upscaling is needed. Images have plenty of colour, contrast and detail from all sources, while the viewing angle is wider than expected.

We disliked

Just two HDMI inputs? That's too bad, though the provision of a single USB slot is also disappointing.

Some will miss the chance to interact with Panasonic's latest Firefox OS, although the fact that the myHomeScreen user interface is on the 32CS510 is surprising at this low price.

Panasonic TX-32CS510 review

Are there too many ways to control your viewing options?

Since a Netflix button is already on the remote control and the Freetime TV interface is excellent, for many UK users there's little point in interacting with either the Freeview HD tuner pages or the myHomeScreen platform. The latter lacks the catch-up services that Freetime includes.

Those multiple layers of the user interface could makes things slightly confusing for the buyer.

For instance, the Guide button on the remote should take the user not to a separate, unwanted Freeview HD EPG, but to the Free Digital TV Screen hub page. To avoid any confusion, Freetime should be front and centre.

Verdict

Would you buy a 32-inch HD-ready telly?

In theory such a low-resolution screen is only for those that care more about content than quality, but the savvy buyer need only look at the maths. The provision of Freetime, Freeview HD and Netflix on the 32CS510 – all of which broadcast and stream in the exact same HD-ready quality that LED panel is build to display – makes this a correctly specified TV.

Besides, Netflix usually comes down the pipe at 480p. That well-matched resolution is one reason why the 32CS510's images are so clean as well as so technically impressive. It may lack ultimate detail on Blu-ray discs, but that's about it.

Gaming, Freeview HD channels, DVDs and Netflix all get a polished, colourful and contrasty treatment that's retained even at extreme viewing angles. Though the 32CS510 lacks Panasonic's latest Firefox-based smart TV platform, the myHomeScreen platform it does have is thorough and impressive.

Sure, there's some overlap between Freeview HD, myHomeScreen, the remote's Netflix shortcut and the headline feature, Freetime.

In fact, it's probable that you'll forget all about one or two of those features. Either way, what's left is a great value, advanced 32-incher with reliable, versatile picture quality that's only one HDMI input short of being an absolute steal.

Also consider

Loaded with apps, the Samsung UE32H6400 boasts versatile picture quality and a speedy Smart Hub platform, and though it lacks Freetime, it uses a Full HD LED panel. At the other end of the scale is the only-for-the-UK Finlux 32HBD274B-NC, which is far cheaper, though does have a HD-ready resolution and a built-in DVD player.