Panasonic Viera TX-32LX60
- Good SD performance, Excellent HD performance, Reasonable price
- Limited calibration tools, Reduced connectivity options, Analogue Tuner
A few small issues with reduced connectivity and calibration options impact what is otherwise an excellent display.
Price$ 2,529.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic Viera TX-32LX60 is a mid-range 32 inch LCD TV with good image quality for SDTV and excellent HDTV. However, when compared to other units, it's somewhat let down by the lack of a digital tuner and reduced connectivity options.
For testing SD (Standard Definition) modes we first ran the Philips CE2006 Demo DVD. This includes real-world footage designed to show off the capabilities, and reveal the limits, of a display.
The motion jitter footage was handled well with little jitter and blur - a better result than many of the LCD panels we have tested. The colour tests showed good detail and displayed rich colours even at points of subtle shading. However, all red in the image was over-saturated - making the image look unnatural. Even though this screen has a contrast ratio of 1200:1, there was still minor bleeding between high and low contrast areas, which can cause jagged outlines where solid colours meet. The sharpness test showed a little softness at times, making edges appear blurry where they should have been clearly defined. Unfortunately, attempting to fix this by adding sharpness in calibration only added unwanted noise to the image.
To see how it would look playing a movie we watched the lobby scene from The Matrix. There was a moderate level of noise and minor pixilation in high contrast areas due to the contrast ratio issue mentioned above. There was no discolouration in block textures and detail when rendering the myriad debris in the scene was excellent. While some over-sharpening on harsh edges was present, motion tests revealed no ghosting problems.
Moving onto Digital Video Essentials, an excellent suite of tests for determining the quality of image reproduction, revealed some over-sharpening during black on white contrast tests and moderate noise in grey at between 20-40% amplitude - which looks like a ballet of dancing dots in grey areas. The colour SMPTE and greyscale pattern images were rendered accurately and there was no discolouration in either test, showing off how well this panel produces colours.
Overall the panel is quite capable in standard definition for watching television and DVDs.
The native resolution of this panel is 1366x768 which means that it can handle 720p resolution natively and scale to up 1080i or down to 480i/p and 576i/p as required. For testing high definition content we ran two tests - an Xbox 360 playing games hooked up via component at 720p and 1080i, and HD WMV video playback at 720p from the Zensonic Z500 using HDMI.
The display handled the Xbox 360 tests quite well, exhibiting much more impressive image quality than it did in standard definition. The colours were excellent and the red over-saturation was gone. Images were crisp, contrast issues were non-existent and we detected no image noise. While we found no ghosting, the reported 8ms response time looked more like 12ms with slightly jittery motion when panning quickly around game environments. There were sharpness issues with text on the Xbox 360 dashboard and in games, present in both 720p and 1080i, with the text looking muddy as normally white areas had elements of grey fringing.
The HD WMV tests using the Zensonic Z500 were nearly flawless. The motion was good and the detail was excellent with no pixilation. The images were sharp and there was superb separation between colours. We were quite impressed with the result of this test with its only blemish being the same sharpness issue seen in the Xbox 360 test.
For high definition content the Viera is on-par with other mid to high range televisions on the market, but still doesn't match up to top of the range (albeit more expensive) units.
Many of the televisions we review come with a built-in analogue tuner to enable them to pick up free-to-air TV out of the box. In our experience these usually suffer poor performance and the Viera is no different - many channels failed to tune to a usable state and those that did were rife with ghosting and noise. If you intend to watch TV with this unit, we recommend buying an SDTV or HDTV set top box.
Connections and Design
Connection wise the Viera sports two HDMI, one component and three composite/S-Video ports which are enough for most people. However, since there is only once component input if you want to use an Xbox 360 and a DVD player with component out you'll need to sacrifice image quality on one device by using composite/S-Video, or purchase a separate AV receiver. DVI and D-Sub PC connections are also absent, which makes the unit unfriendly to media centre PCs.
In terms of looks the Viera feels almost retro due to the 128mm thick chassis and the style of the function buttons. The finish of the bezel and outer chassis are both a fairly standard silver/grey and black. However the speaker array is rather impressive, hidden behind a silver mesh that doesn't immediately reveal its function. A nice touch.
The sound quality of the speakers is fairly good but by no means exceptional. We tested at low, medium and high volumes and found the quality to be consistent. There was no distortion at high volume and though the bass was a little muddy and the treble slightly truncated, the mid-tones were rich and we noticed no casing resonance.
Interface and Calibration
While fairly simple to use, the menu system and calibration options look as though they come from another age; reminding us of CRT televisions we grew up with in the 80s. The calibration options are limited and only offer brightness, contrast, colour, sharpness and tint controls. Advanced calibration tools would allow specific colours to be tweaked to further improve image quality, but these are absent.
Unfortunately, the remote isn't much better - switching between inputs is a frustrating process controlled by four unlabelled buttons which only become active after repeatedly pressing the TV/AV button. There's definitely room for improvement here.
In conclusion the lack of a digital tuner, reduced connectivity options, and limited calibration tools on the Panasonic Viera TX-32LX60 mar its performance compared to other units on the market. However, when you consider the price point for the quality of image in standard and high definition, this unit should satisfy most users' needs.
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