Panasonic TH-L32S25A LCD television
Panasonic TH-L32S25A review: A 32in Full HD TV that has 100Hz, Web features and acceptable picture quality
- Viera Cast features are a welcome inclusion on a cheap TV, picture quality is quite good with Full HD video
- Other TVs have more video-on-demand services, it's quite chunky for a small TV
The Panasonic TH-L32S25A is a cheap LCD TV with some of the Web features you'd usually only find on more expensive televisions. If you've got a broadband Internet connection and want a versatile screen for your bedroom, kid's room or study, the TH-L32S25A is a valid choice.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
Panasonic's TH-L32S25A is a 32in LCD TV improves on the cheaper Panasonic TH-L32X25A with a 1080p Full HD panel that supports 100Hz motion smoothing, and a small range of Viera Cast Web services — Yahoo7's PLUS7 catch-up TV library, Twitter, YouTube and other functions are available to pass the time when there's nothing on TV.
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Panasonic TH-L32S25A: Design and connectivity
Like the TH-L32X25A, which is $50 cheaper, the Panasonic TH-L32S25A uses a conventional CCFL backlight rather than edge LED lighting. This means it is, by 2011 standards, quite a chunky TV — the bezel is at least a couple of inches wide, and the television chassis is 83mm deep. It has a slightly generic but not unattractive piano black finish.
The standout connection options — beyond the usual HDMI and analog video connectors — are an SD card slot, an Ethernet socket and a brace of USB 2.0 ports. The USB ports support Panasonic's Skype camera for videoconferencing, a Wi-Fi adapter, a keyboard for easier YouTube or Twitter browsing, or a USB flash drive or hard drive for digital TV recording. You can only re-watch shows on the TV you recorded them on though — DRM prevents any transfers of the data. The SD card slot serves to play back photos, AVCHD video and audio files, and the same features are available via USB.
Panasonic TH-L32S25A: Web features and picture quality
If there's nothing interesting on TV and you don't have any DVDs or Blu-ray movies to watch, the Panasonic TH-L32S25A incorporates a few time-wasting Web features. You can directly access video-on-demand from Yahoo7's Plus7 video library — we may have indulged in a few episodes of Border Security — and the ever-reliable YouTube also makes an appearance. You can also use Skype if you've got the Panasonic webcam, check out stocks and weather, browse Picasa Web albums and sign in to your Twitter account. After Plus7 and YouTube we think Twitter will be the biggest drawcard for buyers, but its lack of auto-refresh and awkward keypad-based typing system slightly disappointment. The interface is at least easy to see from a standard TV viewing distance.
Picture quality on the Panasonic TH-L32S25A varies from acceptable to good based on the content it's being supplied with. We quickly ran through The Dark Knight and Terminator: Salvation on Blu-ray, The Matrix on DVD — all courtesy of a Pioneer BDP-430 Blu-ray player — as well as some broadcast HD and SD digital TV and some standard-quality YouTube video (there's no option to watch in high-def). The TH-L32S25A uses a Full HD panel, so it stands to reason that it looks best when playing back a 1080p source. Our Blu-ray movies looked clean and had good detail levels, but we did notice that the extreme highlights and shadows of scenes tended to lose detail. This is due to the Panasonic TH-L32S25A's low contrast ratio — a product of its CCFL backlight's limited brightness range. It's not a crippling problem, but if you want to solve it you'll need to stump up for a more expensive TV like the Panasonic TH-L37D25A which uses a more versatile LED backlight.
The Panasonic TH-L32S25A struggles a bit when it is upscaling low quality sources. YouTube is predictably blocky and lacks any semblance of detail when viewed full-screen, but our DVD test showed a small amount of graininess and blockiness as well. Standard-def digital TV only looks OK, but switching to HD improves the picture considerably. Fast-motion playback problems are rarely a big issue on small-screen TVs, but the inclusion of 100Hz ensures that the TH-L32S25A is able to play back all video content without any especially noticeable artefacts or blurring.
Panasonic TH-L32S25A: Conclusion
Panasonic has placed the TH-L32S25A squarely in between the $50 cheaper X25A and $400 more expensive D25A — it has 100Hz and Web features, but misses out on an LED backlight. It's a no-brainer to buy the S25A if you're choosing between it and the X25A, but moving up to the D25A does solve some of the TH-L32S25A's niggling picture quality issues.
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