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Panasonic TX-L37E5 review

TV & AVReviews
8/10
, 21 Jan 2013Reviews
Panasonic TX-L37E5 review

Panasonic’s TX-L37E5 entry-level 37in LCD TV can be yours at a price that won’t break the bank (under £500 online) but what it doesn’t get you is 3D support of any kind - this is a straight-up 2D affair.

Still it’s good to see that Panasonic has thrown in Viera Connect and DLNA for the money, as well as Freeview HD and 150Hz backlight scanning.

Design and features

What you can always count on from a Panasonic TV is sturdy build quality and the TX-L37E5 doesn’t disappoint, even at this lower price point. It’s robust from top to bottom, using a metal rear panel where some similarly priced sets might opt for plastic.

Panasonic also took a big step forward with its 2012 TVs in terms of design and as such this set looks remarkably stylish. The glossy black bezel is surrounded by a transparent trim that overhangs the edge, giving it an understated, modern vibe. It’s supplied with a matching swivel stand.

The rear panel is well equipped for the demands of today’s home cinema systems, boasting four HDMI inputs running up the side, plus composite, component, SCART and PC inputs.

There’s an optical digital audio output, too, plus two USB ports and an SD card slot for playback of media files. There's also an Ethernet port and a CI slot, which facilitates the addition of pay TV channels.

The TX-L37E5 is not equipped with built-in Wi-Fi like the TX-L32ET5. If you want it, you have to fork out for Panasonic’s Wi-Fi dongle, which costs around £70. If that’s a stretch then you can connect via Ethernet.

Either way, its net connectivity means you can access Viera Connect’s range of Internet apps. Stars of the show here are the BBC apps – iPlayer, News and Sport – but movie fans will find value in Netflix and Acetrax, while keen social networkers will welcome Facebook and Twitter access (which can be viewed at the side of the screen while watching TV).

The selection is rounded off by Eurosport, YouTube, Skype (which requires a camera) plus other news channels, games and puzzles. I still maintain it could do with more catch-up TV services to make it an essential feature, but even so there’s lots to keep you entertained.

Also impressive is Viera Market, which not only enables you to download apps but also lets you buy Panasonic accessories, such as keyboards, 3D glasses and cameras.

If you don’t want to be restricted by Viera Connect’s offering there’s also a web browser, which is a handy feature if you want to look something up without resorting to the laptop. Remarkably it’s not a complete pig to use like most TV web portals.

You can play a decent range of formats from USB storage devices, including AVCHD, SD Video, DivX HD, WMV, MKV, AVI and MOV, as well as MP3, AAC, WMA, FLAC and JPEG. If you prefer, you can stream them from media servers over your home network.

The set uses edge LED backlighting and an IPS Alpha panel, which is designed to keep pictures looking solid from wide viewing angles. The quoted 150Hz motion blur reduction system is achieved using a combination of the set’s native 50Hz rate and backlight scanning.

Operation

By its rivals’ standards Panasonic’s onscreen displays might seem dull, with their static menu boxes and lack of jazzy backgrounds. But plenty of people will prefer this more restrained approach.

Everything in the setup menu is organised sensibly into straightforward lists, with colourful icons where necessary, crisp white text and helpful diagrams at the bottom of the screen.

The picture setup menu puts all the basic picture tweaks on its first page, then tucks the more advanced stuff in the, er, advanced picture menu. Here you’ll find white balance and gamma adjustments. Elsewhere you’ll find noise reduction, Clear Cinema processing and picture presets (Dynamic, Normal, Cinema, True Cinema and Game).

The Viera Connect menu is bright and bold, using enormous logos for each app, but that means it can only display seven at a time. The rest of the apps are spread over several pages, which isn’t ideal. You can rearrange them but it’s still more faffing about than we’d like.

The EPG is easy to navigate and packed with info, showing seven channels at a time in the programme grid, but the lack of a live TV screen is a pity. The info banner – a scaled down version of the EPG that you can access while watching TV – disappointingly only shows now and next information.

Owners of iOS or Android smartphones can use them to control the TX-L37E5 over a network, but if you want to keep it old school then the supplied remote is easy to use. Its buttons are large and clearly labelled, and the logical button placement makes navigation feel intuitive.

Performance

Despite lacking much of the tech that makes its higher end sets so eye-poppingly good, the L37E5’s picture quality is still remarkably assured.

At the heart of this impressive performance is a terrific black level, which not only lends dark objects depth and solidity but also helps colours look rich and vibrant.

Close inspection of the image during dark movie scenes reveals very little backlight seepage or cloudy noise, which means shadows and detail are clearly resolved.

And during brightly lit Blu-ray scenes, colours look majestic. Not only are they deeply saturated, but they’re free from grubby noise and look remarkably life-like – particularly with trickier hues like skin, or the light and shade of the luscious green hills in Lord of the Rings.

The inclusion of the IPS panel means that these colours don’t lose their potency when viewed off centre. You have to go seriously wide before they even begin to looked washed out.

Fine detail and complex textures are deftly handled, looking pleasingly sharp and stable, if not reaching the emphatic, crystal-clear levels of the WT50 range or the Sony KDL-46HX753.

Perhaps more importantly though, detail doesn’t blur excessively when the camera starts moving around quickly. It’s not as smooth and composed as Panasonic’s more expensive sets with higher refresh rates and slicker motion processing, but the occasional softening doesn’t significantly detract from your enjoyment. Gamers might not be quite so forgiving but for day-to-day TV and movie viewing you’ll be hard pressed to find fault.

Like Blu-ray, Freeview HD channels could look a little sharper, but there’s enough of a leap from SD to satisfy. In fact, standard definition channels are a bit of a let-down, with block and mosquito noise making the image seem soft and slightly grubby. They’re watchable, just not up there with the best Freeview pictures Panasonic have to offer.

Sound

Like most Panasonic TVs I’ve tested, the L37E5’s sound quality is surprisingly good. It’s full and robust, without getting overly congested or harsh in the midrange. There’s also more bass presence than many flat TVs can muster, too, and its crisp treble lends an open feel. We’re not saying you should abandon plans to buy that soundbar, but for everyday listening it’s fine.

Verdict

It may lack the picture prowess and flashy features of Panasonic’s pricier sets, but the TX-37LE5 is yet another impressive LED LCD TV from Panasonic. Its pictures are hugely enjoyable for the money, while Viera Connect and DLNA mean it’s not completely devoid of eye-catching features. All in all, a solid purchase.

Specifications

Manufacturer and model

Panasonic TX-L37E5

Screen size (inches)

37

Resolution

1,920 x 1,080

Backlight technology

Edge LED

Picture engine

Smart Viera Engine Pro

Digital tuner

Freeview HD

3D ready

No

3D technology

N/A

3D glasses supplied

N/A

2D-to-3D conversion

N/A

Wi-Fi

With WLAN dongle

Online content

Viera Connect

DLNA streaming

Yes

Smartphone control

Yes

Contrast ratio

Not given

Brightness

Not given

Refresh rate

150Hz backlight scanning

Speaker power

2 x 10W

Energy efficiency class

A+

Dimensions (with stand, W x H x D)

874 x 581 x 238 mm

Dimensions (without stand, W x H x D)

874 x 534 x 52mm

HDMI

4

Component

1

Composite

1

SCART

1

Digital audio output

1 (optical)

PC input

1

USB

2

SD card slot

Yes

Ethernet

Yes

CI slot

Yes

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