Panasonic TX-L32ET5B review

Panasonic's first passive 3D TV proves a surprising 32-inch hit

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Panasonic TX L32ET5B review

The Panasonic TX-L32ET5B's spec sheet should satisfy the tech cravings of most TV buyers, especially on a 32-inch model.

The set is blessed with all the trappings of a complete TV-based entertainment hub, including built-in Wi-Fi, DLNA networking, a Full HD panel, Freeview HD tuner, connected TV and social media apps - including for the first time, in-vision Facebook and Twitter.

We'd go so far as to say some of this is overkill. It's hard to imagine anyone wanting to sit around watching someone Tweeting or updating their Facebook status on the screen, nor can we imagine anyone wanting to do so using the TV rather than a smartphone, tablet or netbook.

Panasonic TX L32ET5B review

On the other hand, it could just work for certain live events such as The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. And you can imagine a fair amount of Twitter action as Engelbert Humperdinck gets nil points from the French come Eurovision.

The adoption of passive 3D rather than active is an understandable move. Even at its glasses-free best we would be unconvinced about the merits of watching 3D on a 32-inch screen, and public indifference to 3D in general is a lot greater than manufacturers care to admit.

But the switch to passive 3D means there's a lot less bother involved: the specs don't need charging and are much lighter (these weigh a mere 18g and are much more comfy than any active specs), nor do they require pairing with a transmitter. They're also cheaper to replace if they get lost or broken, and can be used on any passive 3D screen.

Panasonic TX L32ET5B review

What's not to like? Well, the downside is a potentially disastrous one in terms of image quality.

There's a 50 per cent loss of resolution, with images from a Full HD 3D Blu-ray reduced from 1920 x 1080 to 1920 x 540 pixels. But many punters will probably be blissfully unaware of such resolution matters.

The Panasonic TX-L32ET5B's screen sports Panasonic's "crystal frame" design. Bezel-wise, it's nothing like as demure as OLED screens such as the 4mm thin LG 55EM960V or even Panasonic's own slinky WT LED series, but the inch-wide silver-grey frame and transparent plastic edge trim have a certain panache.

Panasonic TX L32ET5B review

Under the hood is an IPS panel with Clear Panel filter. This produces a wide (178-degree) viewing angle that's beneficial for off-axis viewing and generates higher contrast ratios and faster response times.

Picture quality is also aided by 300Hz backlight scanning - a figure that marks new ground but is more than enough hertz to produce smooth images on a screen of this size.

Connectivity is generous to a fault, with no meaningful omissions to speak of. There are four HDMIs, three USBs for multimedia file playback (recording to an external hard drive is not possible), one PC input, plus built-in Wi-Fi and a wired Ethernet port.

Panasonic TX L32ET5B review

An SD card slot also feeds the built-in media player, while digital sound can be output optically.

All common analogue legacy connections are reassuringly provided using adaptors.

There's no ISFF calibration, but the Panasonic TX-L32ET5B's suite of picture-tweaking tools is centred around Panasonic's Smart Viera Engine Pro. This includes everyday adjustments to contrast, brightness and noise reduction plus more advanced options such as gamma levels, white balance and Clear Cinema for improving the vertical resolution of interlaced signals.

Plus there's the mildly controversial Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC), which reduces judder. Read our Picture Quality section for more on this.