Impressive general performance, smart style and ease of use make this a solid mid-ranger
Smooth 100Hz motion, Slick design
Tidy menu system
Disappointing black levels
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At one time 100Hz technology used to be reserved for high-end LCD TVs, but increasingly it's being filtered into affordable mid-rangers such as this new model, the TX-L32X15B LCD TV.
Watch anything on this screen, and its built-in Intelligent Frame Creation processing can double the frame rate in an attempt at eliminating motion judder.
It works well too, whether you're watching HD movies or regular standard-definition fare. While some 100Hz modes make their presence obvious by over-egging their processing pudding, this one works fairly discreetly and produces very little in the way of off-putting artefacts.
Still, if you ever do spot the odd sparkle around a moving object, Intelligent Frame Creation can be toned down a notch or even turned off completely.
For some reason, Panasonic has decided to hide this 100Hz technology away in a menu named 'Other Settings', when it would be far more sensibly placed alongside other picture tweaks.
Specifications and features are pretty much what we've come to expect from a mid-size, mid-range HDTV: there's an SD card slot for photo viewing and AVCHD movies, but that's the extent of the multimedia capability.
There's a decent set of sockets on offer, including three HDMIs (one on the side) and a dedicated PC input.
In every other way, the TXL32X15B is a paragon of user friendliness, thanks to its simple, smartly laid-out menu system and responsive remote control. Hit a button on the remote and there's no lag at all: your command is instantly followed. It might seem like a minor thing, but a lot of TVs, even pricier models, still can't get it right.
Panasonic has also hit the right note when it comes to styling. While the curved frame, particularly under the screen, looks a bit Samsung-esque, the overall effect is a touch more high-end than the rival firm's efforts. This quality feel extends into the build itself, which is reassuringly solid, although some might have preferred the screen to swivel on the stand rather than sit totally rigid.
The screen has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, so 1080p or 1080i is off the cards, no matter which source or input you use. The TV is compatible with 1080p video, but it will downscale it to fit the lower resolution, resulting in the loss of some sharpness with full HD sources.
Despite this, HD material looks impressive on the Panasonic. Whether the source was a Blu-ray player, Sky HD box or Xbox 360, we found detail to be sharp, motion smooth and noise levels so low as to be practically non-existent. Colours are fairly understated on the set, and at the mid setting a touch too warm for our tastes, so if you're searching for a screen that blazes with vibrancy, then this might not be for you.
Standard-definition content fares well too, with the 100Hz mode keeping fast-moving content nicely smooth. The small-ish screen size doesn't highlight SD's softness too much, resulting in a reasonably sharp image.
The black levels are probably the most disappointing aspect of this screen, and like many LCDs the backlight shines through, even in the darkest parts of the picture. This results in slightly weak blacks, lacking in bite and impact.
On some screens it's possible to lessen this effect by manually dimming the backlight (especially if you're watching in a dimly-lit room), but Panasonic hasn't enabled this on the TX-L32X15B – so you're stuck with the default backlight brightness for the most part.
An 'eco' mode does reduce the intensity of the backlight power to enhance energy efficiency, but we found that this impacts too much on the brightness and leaves the lighter areas of the image lacking in vibrancy.
Audio performance won't win any awards, as it lacks bite in the bass and overall dynamism, which takes a lot of impact out of movies. However, given the almost invisible speakers, we felt it did a decent job with general TV content, and dialogue certainly comes over clearly enough.
Overall the lack of a full HD resolution, media features or any truly outstanding areas of performance make it tough to get excited about the TX-L32X15B, but then not every television can be a world beater.
For the price tag (which should dip closer to £500 soon, we'd imagine), the set delivers solid, all-round performance with the added touch of 100Hz scanning, making it well worth a look if you're in the market for a dependable second TV.
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