Though it's not quite a classic Panasonic plasma screen, the P37X10 is nonetheless a good value set
Good picture quality
Great value for money
Decent audio performance
Pictures not particularly bright
Minor colour concerns with SD
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While we've generally found Panasonic's 37in plasma TVs to be good, we still wonder if the brand's unique persistence with gas at this smaller screen size has more to do with stubbornness than the desire to satisfy a genuine market need.
This model, the TX-P37X10, while not perfect, nonetheless does enough to prove that the firm's perseverance has definitely paid off.
The X10 series is positioned towards the lower end of the manufacturer's latest flat TV hierarchy, so you wouldn't expect to find it overflowing with features, but it does enough to satisfy.
Its connections, for instance, include a handy trio of HDMIs, a VGA PC input, and an SD card slot, via which you can view slide shows of JPEGs. There's no support for AVCHD movies, though.
Also, within the onscreen menus you can find an Eco mode that adjusts the picture's brightness – and thus power consumption – based on continual sampling of the ambient lighting of your room.
The set also carries 100Hz frame-rate doubling technology, which should, hopefully, increase image stability and reduce judder. And finally, there is an automated colour management system and straightforward noise reduction tool.
The P37X10's startling 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio claim, meanwhile should produce some LCD-shaming black levels.
But we're duty-bound to report that the L37X10 loses out to LCD on resolution. For while most liquid crystal screens these days deliver a full HD resolution at the 37in size, this plasma offering only manages an HD Ready pixel count.
The P37X10 is a chip off the old Panasonic block in this department. Which is, of course, a very good thing. For with its combination of a comfortable, well laid out remote control and clear, concise onscreen menus it's difficult to see how a TV could feasibly be any easier to use.
There's even a handy new Viera Tools button on the remote that provides direct access to an HDMI-controlled Veira Link submenu. This enables you to pause Live TV (provided you're hooked up to a compatible digital recorder) and view photos from SD cards.
Given its entry-level pricing, the P37X10's pictures are, perhaps inevitably, not perfect. But they're definitely good and, crucially, offer a genuine alternative to the usual LCD experience.
The main point of difference, as regular readers will predict, comes in the black level department. For even though the P37X10 is far from the finest black level performer Panasonic has ever produced, its dark scenes still look many times more convincing than they do on the majority of LCD TVs, especially those at the P37X10's price level.
This talent could well be enough in itself to make the P37X10 the affordable 37in TV of choice for anyone who watches a lot of films that tend to use an extreme and challenging contrast range.
The P37X10 also has a lot to say for itself with HD pictures. For while they're perhaps not quite as detailed as you'd get with the best full HD TVs, they still look decently crisp, and enjoy some rich, mostly natural and engaging colour tones.
HD images are largely noise-free too, and moving objects look much clearer than they would on most liquid crystal TVs, although there is a bit of judder to contend with.
Standard-definition pictures are also good. They're certainly scaled up to the screen's HD Ready resolution with aplomb, removing, rather than exaggerating, any noise a standard-def source may contain. And they're sharper than those seen on many LCD TVs.
However, standard-definition pictures suffer with rather inconsistent colour tones. This results in some skin tones looking either a bit over-ripe or pasty, while dark scenes can look slightly tinged with green.
Also in the negative column, we occasionally saw some low-level fizzing noise over the skin of people walking across the screen. And it struck us, too, that the P37X10's pictures just don't look as bright and vibrant as those of your typical 37in LCD rivals, which could become a problem in a bright room.
The P37X10's slightly clunky, wide-bodied design seems to pay dividends when it comes to the set's audio talents. For it produces a quite dynamic, widespread soundstage capable of reproducing film mixes with more clarity and potency than most of its affordable flat telly rivals.
While there are aspects of the P37X10 that reveal its budget nature, it's still good to see Panasonic now making its plasma know-how as affordable as rival budget LCD contenders.
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