Not HD ready, but still a seriously good LCD that performs well with Freeview
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Like several big home cinema names, Panasonic is a brand that is now embracing LCD after formally being dependent on plasma production. Well-sized for a living room, this 32in LCD screen has impressed us in the past, and the inclusion of a Freeview tuner is an added attraction.
The TX32LXD1 looks similar to Panasonic's well-respected plasmas because it boasts the same eye-catching black and silver colour scheme, but there's one key difference. The bulk of the silver content is found on the speaker-bearing 'wings' jutting out from either side of the screen frame, making it look bigger than the average 32in flatscreen.
Pick and mix
Connectivity is a mixed bag. There's a set of component video inputs able to take good-quality progressive scan and analogue high-definition signals (but not Sky's planned high-def broadcasts). There's also a slot for a Conditional Access Module, which indicates the presence of that built-in Freeview terrestrial tuner.
But the lack of any PC sockets will be a big downer for those wanting to work or play computer games in style. What's more, the absence of a digital input - be it DVI or HDMI - is upsetting on a supposedly cutting-edge TV.
The lack of any stereo audio inputs associated with the component video feed is irritating, too, as it means that you have to connect your source to the TV via the third Scart to receive audio with a component feed. You might also find that you require a special adaptor, if your component source doesn't have a Scart output.
Things got better when we gave our test disc, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a spin. We were immediately struck by the image's intensity. Rich, radiant colours joined forces with a storming brightness output to create a dazzling first impression as Jim Carrey's Joel (seemingly) goes through the paces of his daily life.
The complete lack of interference was also outstanding (provided you stick with an RGB/component source, or the digital tuner) - the picture looked so clean that we felt as though we were staring through a window at the action rather than experiencing it on a screen.
The quality of the processing - as well as this screen's speedy response time - was also evident in the absence of smearing and dot crawl. Panasonic has developed a 'Overdrive' system for tackling LCD response time issues, and on this evidence it works a treat.
Despite all this good stuff, however, pictures aren't completely perfect. Colours were a touch unnatural during our test movie's extended dream sequences, as were Joel and Clementine's skin tones. There's also a slight lack of fine detail - although that's not to say the image is actually soft.
Sonically, the TX32LXD1 is a little less impressive. In spite of the size of its speakers, there's a lack of frequency response, leaving the soundstage thin and compressed. Trebles are tinny, the dialogue boxed in and the rumble never really kicks in as it should for movies - although they do an solid job with images from the freeview tuner.
The TX32LXD1 lacks digital connections, so despite its panel's theoretical talents (it boasts a 1,280 x 768 resolution), HDTV from Sky will be off limits. But if you're after a Freeview tuner-equipped LCD - which is, after all, what this group test is about - and you look past the slightly under par audio, this remains an awesome achievement by Panasonic. And at the low, low prices currently quoted online, this set should be on anyone's 'must-test' list.
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