The TX-L32E3 sits in the middle of five Panasonic ranges of LCD screens for 2011.
This means that, while it has an edge-LED backlight, a Full HD resolution, a Freeview HD tuner and, at £500, an enticing price, it doesn’t support 3D, unlike the flagship 32in LCD set the TX-L32DT30, nor sport plenty of the other features you will see elsewhere.
A good, honest budget set
If you’re after all the bells and whistles you’ve been reading about on our pages recently, you should be aware this isn’t the set for you.
While there is an ethernet connection, it’s for software updates, not streaming content or connecting to internet TV. You’ll find no DLNA connectivity or Viera Connect here, no USB recording, no Freesat tuner.
You do get a digital Freeview HD tuner, three HDMI inputs plus component and Scart, a PC input, digital audio output and an SD card slot.
And there’s a smattering of picture processing modes to tweak – C.A.T.S (Contrast Automatic Tracking System) adjusts the picture according to the ambient light in the room, P-NR offers noise reduction and there’s Resolution Enhancer – but far fewer of those than found elsewhere.
Panasonic’s remote control and on-screen menus are a little tired but easy enough to explore – the relative lack of functionality helping in this respect.
Slender and easy on the eye
Unlike other budget TV this cheaper Panasonic doesn’t mark a sea change in design and still remains slender and easy on the eye, missing merely the silver trim and remote of the Panasonic TX-L32DT30 premium model.
The Blu-ray of The Shining shows the Panasonic has an upbeat, bright and bubbly picture. Skin tones are ruddy and gleaming with life, while reds and greens are vibrant.
These colours are under-pinned by faithful black levels, striking the right balance between delivering dark shades without losing the details buried within.
DVD images show occasional hints of noise, and motion isn’t quite as infallible as others here, but for one of the cheaper sets in the test it’s still a strong showing. It’s in brighter scenes, where plenty of colour is required, that this TV excels.
Pixar’s Up provides a fine example. Ask the set to do the scaling and it shows little indication of a drop in quality.
Freeview HD, and fair sound
Panasonic isn’t averse to having both Freeview and Freesat tuners in its sets, but here you’ll have to settle for Freeview HD alone.
It’s a good tuner; a touch soft, but otherwise punchy, with those solid black levels underpinning decent contrast and good insight.
The speakers are worth hearing, too, delivering one of the more detailed and dynamic presentations, even if voices can occasionally sound a little thick.
Perfect it may not be, but this is our budget set of choice. If you don’t need the bells and whistles but do want a level of picture and sound performance that represents fine value, look no further.