Panasonic TX-32DS500B review

A fine choice if you're on the hunt for a 32in TV for a bedroom or kitchen... Tested at £300

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Only a weakness with dark scenes stops this likeable and affordable 32in TV from getting the full five stars

For

  • Good picture quality
  • Even colour balance
  • Full-bodied, solid sound
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent selection of apps
  • Affordable price

Against

  • Limited connectivity
  • Blacks need to be deeper and subtler
  • Rivals offer better contrast and more detail

The Panasonic TX-32DS500B doesn’t impress on paper: it’s a 32in screen, has HD Ready resolution (which means it will accept 1080p videos, but won’t be able to display them natively), and costs just £300.

We've become so accustomed to testing the latest Ultra HD 4K TVs, the arrival of an old-fashioned HD Ready TV with 32in screen actually comes as a bit of a shock to the system.

But it’s a surprisingly likeable, easy-to-use TV with a compelling picture. It even has Netflix and all the catch-up TV apps.

MORE: Panasonic TX-40DX600B review

Picture

But first, let’s get the biggest issue with the Panasonic out of the way: the blacks don’t go deep or subtle enough.

That becomes a problem when you’re watching a TV show or Blu-ray film with a lot of dark scenes – The Dark Knight Rises, for instance, or the interior scenes in Firefly – as you lose a lot of detail and don’t get that exciting, punchy contrast.

The lapels of dark suits, the finer detail in strands of hair, textures of metal or wood – they all tend to blend into the background in dark or shadowy corners.

The edges of objects aren’t easy to distinguish in the gloom, and you also lose that sense of depth between characters and the background.

Bright colours, such as the vivid yellow prison jumpsuits worn in Guardians Of The Galaxy, don’t get the chance to pop as much when they don’t have solid blacks surrounding them.

But things improve in brighter or daylight scenes, where the contrast is a lot more balanced. You don’t notice the weakness of dark areas when the rest of the scene shines brightly and shows off the screen’s better talents.

Objects look a lot more solid outdoors, and you can see just how nicely balanced the colour palette is as well.

Foliage looks natural, the textures of clothes are distinctive and conveyed with a good amount of detail, and skin tones are almost realistic – though they look slightly flushed as if everyone’s been out in the sun for a bit too long.

Edges of objects could be crisper, but we don’t find the picture noisy or fuzzy.

We would normally brace ourselves for a dip in quality when watching standard definition on a Full HD or 4K screen, but the HD Ready resolution works in the 32DS500B’s favour: the picture remains clear and stable, with plenty of detail to keep your interest hooked when watching MasterChef on BBC iPlayer or Friends repeats on non-HD channels.

All the Panasonic needs is some final detail to deliver a more realistic and immersive picture. Lamps and light sources need more punch and intensity to be convincing.

The rival Sony KDL-32WD603 (£300) is more discerning, and has a better grasp on its contrast – its blacks go satisfyingly deep while also displaying plenty of shadow detail.

MORE: Best TV deals – smart, HD, 4K TV

Sound

The Panasonic delivers an engaging performance at this price, and sounds good, too. We think it’s down to its chunky build that the TV has such a robust sonic character (unlike the tinny sound we encounter from slim flatscreens).

The 32in TV’s sound is similar to the 4K Panasonic TX-40DX600B (£500), with a decent weight and no hint of sharpness meaning it is comfortable to listen to for long periods of time.

Dialogue is heard clearly above solid-sounding effects, and we don’t find ourselves immediately thinking about hooking up a suitable soundbar.

MORE: Best soundbars 2016

Features

Unlike the TVs higher up in Panasonic’s 2016 range, the TX-32DS500B doesn’t come with the colourful, bubble-filled Firefox OS interface that we’re so fond of.

Instead, it has My Home Screen – multiple screens that you can customise to a specific theme or person in the household.

The modular screens are useful. The channel or Blu-ray you’re watching will always take centre stage, and you can have shortcuts to your most used apps or a list of channels surrounding it.

MORE: The Big Four – the best flagship TVs for 2016

Apart from sometimes being a touch slow to move around the screen, it’s not complicated to use. It might not be as elegant and slick as Firefox, but it’s handy for having your favourite apps and programme guide within easy reach.

Along with Netflix and Amazon video apps, you get all of the UK’s catch-up TV apps (BBC iPlayer, the ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5), something that its rivals from Sony and LG don’t have.

The built-in wi-fi works just fine when watching iPlayer streams, but we’d use the wired ethernet port for the most stable connection.

Build and connectivity

Connectivity is rather sparse on the TX-32DS500B. You have two HDMI inputs and one USB port, which isn’t enough if you want to keep your Blu-ray player, Sky box and games console plugged in at all times.

A couple of analogue inputs, a digital optical output for adding a soundbar (if you wish to in the future), and the Freeview HD tuner are the only other connections you’ll find at the back of the TV.

Though it looks rather chunky, the set itself is light but never feels flimsy. The build quality is decent, and with a simple but stable stand that’s easy to screw in.

It’s an easy set to get to grips with from the start, with a sturdy remote control included that works reliably when scrolling through the integrated Freetime programme guide.

MORE: What is Sky Q? When will Sky 4K launch? Here's what we know

Verdict

The Panasonic is a fine choice if you’re after a small TV for your bedroom or kitchen.

You get a fair amount for your £300: HDMI inputs (although we could do with just one more), all the best video on-demand and catch up TV apps, a Freeview HD tuner and a satisfyingly solid sound quality.

Its biggest rival is the Sony KDL-32WD603, which offers a subtler, more natural and exciting picture for the same price.

But if you can live with the not-so-deep-or-subtle blacks of the Panasonic, its likable picture and interface is worth considering.

MORE: Best Panasonic 4K TVs

See all our Panasonic reviews

Specifications

View All

General Information

Product SeriesDS500
Product LineViera
Product NamePanasonic TX-32DS500B
Product ModelTX-32DS500B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Brand NamePanasonic
Product TypeLED-LCD TV
ManufacturerPanasonic
Manufacturer Part NumberTX32DS500B

Interfaces-Ports

HDMIYes
CI+Yes
VGANo
USBYes
Total Number of HDMI Ports2

Energy and Performance

Energy Efficiency ClassA+
Standby Power Consumption300 mW
Energy Consumption per Year44 kWh
Maximum Resolution1366 x 768
Operating Power Consumption62 W

Technical Information

TouchscreenNo
FeaturesFilm Mode, Media Player, Picture and Text (PAT), Wall Mountable, Progressive Scan, Teletext, Web Browser, Hotel Mode, Screen Mirroring, Sport Mode, Ambient Lighting, Sleep Timer
Streaming ServiceBBC iPlayer, ITV, Catch up TV, Demand Five, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video
Aspect Ratio16:9
3D TypeNo
Backlight TechnologyLED
Internet AccessYes
Smart TVYes
Interactive FeaturesVoice Guidance
WebcamNo
PC StreamingYes
Electronic Program GuideYes
Screen Size81.3 cm (32")

Physical Characteristics

Depth with Stand14.8 cm
Weight with Stand Approximate6.50 kg
Weight Approximate5.50 kg
Width with Stand73.4 cm
Height with Stand47.4 cm
Width73.4 cm
VESA Mount Standard200 x 200
Depth6.9 cm
Height43.7 cm
ColourBlack
Dimensions43.7 cm (H): 73.4 cm (W): 6.9 cm (D)

Network and Communication

EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Wi-Di TechnologyNo
Near Field CommunicationNo

Audio

RMS Output Power20 W
Sound SystemDolby, V-Audio Technology

Video

Digital TunerDVB-T2
Motion Interpolation Technology400Hz Backlight Motion Rate
Video Signal StandardHDTV
Scan Format720p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz

Miscellaneous

DLNA CertifiedYes
Package Contents
  • LED TV Viera TX-32DS500B
  • Remote Control

Power Description

Input Voltage230 V AC