The combination of glossy black screen frame and silver trim sported by the 32LXD50 is fast becoming the de rigeur flat panel look. But the quality of the finish sets this set apart from the look-alikes.
If you want the cutting edge, then you are going to have to look elsewhere. The 32LXD50 sports no digital video input, whether it be for HDMI or DVI. Which means it can't label itself HD Ready according to industry body EICTA's definition, and can't be guaranteed compatible with current and upcoming digital source devices.
The 32LXD50 is also shorn of a PC input, and lacks the SD read/write card slot found on the more expensive '500' models in Panasonic's current range. Oh well - at least there's a set of component video jacks for progressive scan for DVD and analogue high definition from the Euro1080 satellite.
As already stated, although not officially HD Ready, Panasonic's 32LXD50 can play analogue high definition sources using its component video jacks. It also has a built-in digital tuner, and can be upgraded for Top Up TV via a CAM slot.
There's full support for Freeview's 7-day electronic programme guide (EPG), too, plus MPEG noise reduction for tidying up the artefacts that are commonly seen in digital broadcasts.
In terms of its key specifications, the native panel resolution of the LXD50 is high at 1366 x 768, and the quoted contrast ratio and brightness level can both be considered solid at 800:1 and 500cd/m2 respectively.
In keeping with every other new Viera screen I've seen, the LXD50's pictures are quite striking. Colour reproduction is excellent, with well saturated hues and a vibrancy which joins forces with excellent fine detail performance and seriously eye-catching brightness levels. The set's black level response, while not completely innocent of greying over dark areas, is certainly profound enough to give its images depth and life.
The 32LXD50 is also refreshingly free from motion smearing, indicating that it has a reasonable response time. And the screen does manage that rare but enviable feat of making pictures look more or less equally enjoyable from any source, whether it is HD or the built-in digital tuner.
The 32LXD50's speakers prove more powerful than they look. The soundstage that they create spreads comfortably without it losing cohesion, while bass levels are solid and punchy, vocals always sound clear and believable, and treble details are rendered without undue harshness.
There's no doubting the performance of this Panasonic - it is a winner in every way you look at it. However, I do have doubts about the wisdom of buying any reasonably large LCD TV these days that doesn't have a digital video input. Especially when, as in this case, that TV typically sells for the rather hefty sum of £1,500... John Archer