First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A LED TV
Panasonic VIERA E3A review: A basic LED TV, but more than good enough for free to air
- Low price
- Good screen for a basic model
- No 100Hz means fast-moving images are blurry
As a basic mid-sized screen the VIERA TH-L42E3A does its job acceptably. It's not a great choice for watching sport or action movies due to its lack of a screen-smoothing 100Hz function, but for free-to-air TV and the occasional DVD or Blu-ray a casual viewer will find it perfectly fine.
Price$ 1,099.00 (AUD)
Panasonic's VIERA TH-L42E3A, at 42in and $1099, is a reasonably affordable mid-sized TV. It doesn't challenge the prices of anything from Kogan or Soniq, but it's a valid choice for anyone looking to buy a low-priced brand-name TV for a living room, large office, or decked-out bedroom.
Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A: Design and setup
The Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A is cut from the usual Panasonic mould — grey tones predominate with a slightly-too-thick glossy bezel surrounding the near-matte 42in LCD screen. There's no degree of swivel or tilt in the stand, but at least wall-mounters will be happy with the easily accessible VESA mounting points. The panel itself measures 41mm thick, which is no super-thin Samsung Series 9 but not particularly thick either. At 15kg, 1002mm wide and 611mm tall it's otherwise standard for the 42in form factor.
Only three rather than the usual four HDMI ports can be found across the VIERA TH-L42E3A's side and rear panels — not a huge issue, but it's worth a thought if you intend to connect more than two HDMI devices full-time. Analog connectors are plentiful as expected, with VGA, component, composite and analog. The only one of these we'd be likely to use would be VGA for connecting an older laptop or PC, but having the extra connectors as a backup does no harm.
The Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A has the now-standard Ethernet (wired network) and 2 USB 2.0 ports, which can be used to connect a wireless network adapter, keyboard for browsing content or most likely a USB flash drive or external hard drive. As well as AVCHD files from Panasonic's cameras, the USB and Ethernet ports support playback of Divx HD, MKV and MP4 video files. Various audio and picture formats are supported as well.
Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A: Picture quality and performance
When viewing free to air digital television the VIERA E3A does a fair job. Detail levels are good — the E3A has a 1920x1080p Full HD screen, so it'll shine with the right Blu-ray or HD TV channel — and the default picture settings aren't too bad. Cinema mode is best, as long as you're in a slightly dim room where low screen brightness isn't an issue. Otherwise, pick Normal or Dynamic.
The LED edge-light means high contrast scenes can look a little flat and lifeless — there's no dynamic lighting for different screen segments, so the TV has to pick and compromise between deep blacks and bright whites. When the two are on screen together — movie credits, for example, or the early scenes of the The Dark Knight Blu-ray — the screen tends towards washed-out grey. Thankfully the TV's colour reproduction doesn't have any major flaws and with the right material the Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A can look vibrant and well-saturated.
It's with fast-moving video and scrolling text credits that the Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A struggles most. Wide panning shots in our Planet Earth Blu-ray looked jittery close-up, with the TV lacking a proper 24p smoothing mode. It's only visible close-up and only if you're looking for it, we should emphasise — the casual viewer will probably only see it in the fastest action. There's obviously no 3D option for the Panasonic VIERA E3A.
Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A: Conclusion
The Panasonic VIERA TH-L42E3A doesn't conceal any ugly surprises — it's just a simple, easy to operate, no-nonsense LCD TV. Its picture quality certainly isn't as good as a more expensive LED or plasma model, and it lacks the same extensive connection setup, but for casual viewers the E3A is trouble-free.
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