Panasonic Viera TX-L32S20B 32in LCD TV
Goal: affordable Freeview HD telly
Review Rumour has it there’s some footie competition on the box right now that certain folk might want to watch in HD. If you’ve got a set with a DVB-T2 tuner you can view these all-important games on the BBC and ITV Freeview HD channels without having to shell out for an expensive subscription. However, most manufacturers have been holding back their T2 tuners for their more expensive sets, but Panasonic has resisted this temptation and shoved one inside the rather affordable Viera TX-L32S20B.
Panasonic's Viera TX-L32S20B with
footie Freeview HD on-board
When it comes to design, Panasonic’s sets rarely stand out from the crowd apart from a few higher end models like the rather attractive TX-L32D28. Sadly, the TX-L32S20B doesn’t manage to rise above design mediocrity, but it’s not for want of trying, as Panasonic has added both a blue-ish hue that arcs across the bottom of the chassis and a pimply textured finish that runs around the main bezel. However, the impact of these touches are rather neutralised by the set’s overly angular shape and the downright chunkiness of its chassis, which is over 80mm deep.
Nevertheless, that chunky design means there’s plenty of room for ports and sockets on the side and rear, where three HDMI ports are joined by a set of component inputs and two Scart sockets. There’s also an optical output to allow you to send digital audio from the Freeview HD tuner to an external surround sound amp.
Although there’s an Ethernet port on the rear, it’s currently unused – although it may be used for IPTV updates to the Freeview service in the future – so you don’t get any support for Internet widgets or DNLA media streaming. This is disappointing, as similarly priced sets from the likes of LG now come with these features as standard. And while the TX-L32S20B does have an SD card slot on the side, this can only be used for viewing JPG pictures and AVCHD/SD video files, so it isn’t all that useful.
At least setting up the TV is a breeze and the HD channels are automatically tuned alongside the standard definition ones, as long as HD broadcasts are currently available in your area – you can check for this here.
Alas, the Ethernet port is left unused
Using the set in East London I had no problems getting strong reception on both the standard and high definition channels and was impressed by the picture quality of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 HD broadcasts on Freeview, as they compare favourably to their Freesat HD counterparts.
Pay that kind of money and have forced adverts in the EPG? No thanks!
I'm appalled that they think it's OK to sell you a TV which has adverts in some proprietary EPG (which could disappear any minute if they go bust) when the Freeview EPG is ad-free and a standard part of the platform. They are having a laugh, and I for one won't even consider buying a Panasonic TV while they continue with this rubbish. No matter how good they might be in other respects.
I have a panasonic PVR, and that guide+ thing sucks. It's as if a group of marketing people got together in a room and decided that people bought the radio times for the adverts, so that if they do a TV guide UI for a TV, more of the screen space and UI should be dedicated to following up on adverts than doing things like being able to navigate between days and select programs to record.
If there is one redeeming feature, here in the Bristol TV district, there has never been an advert on it, it's just a permanently wasted quarter of the screen, saying "guide+", a poignant reminder of some fundamental flaws in the business model of whoever came up with the idea in the first place.
It pays to shop around, Richer Sounds are selling this model for £549 and the rather good 37" for £600. The EPG is awful but not something I use a great deal.
Is utter garbage. Say no more.
Why is this news?
Sorry if I'm missing something here, but Australia has had terrestrial HD freeview since we moved here t 2 1/2 years ago (which I'm pretty sure runs on the same system of encoding).
At the moment, I can buy a Panasonic 32 inch 1920x1080 set with an integrated HD Freeview tuner for less month than AUD $800 (i.e. about $500).... http://www.jbhifi.com.au/tv-lcd-led-plasma/panasonic/32-inch-hi-def-lcd-tv-sku-53032/
I'm happy to be wrong but to an outsider it would appear manufacturers are premium pricing this 'new' technology in the UK....