The mantelpiece round at Panasonic HQ must be at breaking point, considering the number of accolades that have gone its way. So, with the arrival of the neat-looking TX-32LMD70, is the manufacturer going to walk away with yet another gong?
Connectivity certainly gets things off to a good start. For a £700 32in LCD TV it's certainly pleasing to see two HDMIs. These enable two bits of hi-def kit at the same time - for example, a Sky HD box, and a Blu-ray or HD DVD player.
These inputs can also receive 1080p pictures from suitable sources, as well as being able to play the 1080p/24p format that we're seeing creeping in on a couple of high-end (and highly priced) Blu-ray players. Component video, two RGB Scarts, and PC input are all also included - not a bad haul for a entry-level HDTV.
There's also a common interface slot, immediately alerting us to the presence of a digital tuner, which is just the tip of the iceberg of features. Despite its entry-level status, this TV has a real powerhouse under the bonnet in the shape of Panasonic's latest processing gubbins, Vreal2.
This processing engine has more tricks up its sleeve than David Copperfield, as it's able to convert non-1080p sources into 1080p for playback; there's an Intelligent Scene Controller which enables the TV to deliver deeper black levels by automatically adjusting the intensity of the backlight during darker scenes; and there's also colour management routines to help with the clarity of reds and blues.
There's a difference between the TX-32LMD70 and its more expensive sibling, the TX-32LXD700: the lack of 100Hz processing. We've seen this processing routine work wonders with motion in the past, so it's a bit of a shame that it's not working its wonders here today. Still, you can't have everything with an entry-level model, so you'll just have to console yourself some great pictures without it.
High price performance...
Setting our HD DVD test movie of Hot Fuzz into a spin, we were immediately impressed with the level of detailing on display: you can see every last hair on the body of the toy monkey body that the comedic cops win at the church fair. During the same scene, there's a riot of believable colour, walking an impressive balance between vibrancy and realism.
Dark scenes also impress: the scene when Angel discovers the coven of villagers has deep black levels for a screen of these proportions, with relatively little greying over and some nice shadow detailing.
One area of this TV's pictures that lets down the side a little is in the motion-handling department. This isn't helped by Hot Fuzz's zippy camerawork and fast cuts, which highlights some minor smearing.
Placing that in the context of the generally great hi-def picture performance, this is a minor issue, particularly as standard-def pictures (and those from standard-def DVDs played on an upscaling DVD deck) are on target too.
...with a low cost price
Throw some credible audio into the mix, and you've another Panasonic corker on your hands. While this isn't a stone classic, it's a strong set that does well against some serious rivals in its class.