Panasonic TX-32LZD81 review

A solid, feature-heavy set – but it's no longer the only convincing way to receive Freesat Tested at £800.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Features galore, and in many ways an admirable TV, but it’s not the most convincing way to watch a Blu-ray


  • +

    Freesat broadcasts look stunning (at least the first few times)

  • +

    decent sound

  • +

    impressive colours

  • +

    great with DVD


  • -

    Strangely reticent Blu-ray images

  • -

    by not getting cheaper, it’s effectively more expensive than ever

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

While there's not a mountain of free HD content offered by the likes of BBC and ITV, it's coming - albeit slowly. And Freesat is your hassle free gateway to HD Heroes, Jools Holland and the incredible nature programmes that the BBC produces. If you haven't had the pleasure, we suggest you do.

This Panasonic set has Freesat built in, of course - all you need is a dish on the side of your house (if you don't already have an old Sky one) and you're good to go.

Currently, Panasonic is the only manufacturer to have Freesat capability in its range of sets and, as bonuses go, it's a seemingly big one when you consider a Freesat HD box costs around £150.

Off-air HD broadcasts look terrific

The Panasonic undoubtedly makes Freesat HD broadcasting look tremendous, but that ability seems to be at the expense of the things that make its TX-32LZD85 sibling so compelling a proposition.

These shortcomings are most glaring where Blu-ray playback is concerned. Most unlike the majority of Panasonic LCDs we've tested, the LZD81 doesn't get anywhere near the top of the class.

Contrasts are feeble
Despite strong colours, contrasts are feeble, detail goes astray and there's an almost gauze-like effect to pictures, as if you're glimpsing them through a bit of Victorian London pea-souper.

DVD images are more successful. There's not the outright depth to black tones that rivals can muster, and white tones aren't as dazzling, but skin-tones, edges, motion and detail are all closer to the best than their high-def equivalents.

The Panasonic sounds okay, too, though having heard the Panasonic TX-32LZD85, we're surprised that this set's sound doesn't have the same body or punch.

It is price, though, that sees this screen shed a star from it's First Test showing. Most competitors have been subject to discounts of one kind or another, but the 'LZD81 is still stickered at £800.

For a machine that makes Blu-ray look a bit lifeless and can't singlehandedly inject life into the new Freesat format, that can only be bad news.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test