UPDATE: October 2012
When we first reviewed the L32ET5B, we had reservations about the price. We felt it wasn't quite worth the £750 when there were rivals offering just as good (or better) sets for less, some with screens bigger than 32in.
However, it's now on the market for nearly £200 less than its original price, and it's starting to look like a real bargain.
It faces still competition from the brilliant Sony KDL-32HX753, but it is of a completely different flavour.
With its glowing contrast and comfortable 3D at £530, the L32ET5B has achieved full marks this time round.
The ET5 line-up is Panasonic’s first passive 3D range. The company has sourced its 3D LCD panels from LG, but this doesn’t mean picture quality will be identical to a same-sized LG.
The Panasonic TX-L32ET5B looks smart and showcases Panasonic’s Crystal Frame design.
There are four HDMI sockets, and you can play external media through the TV’s three external USB sockets. There’s also a wireless network adaptor, which comes as standard.
Panasonic TX-L32ET5B: VieraConnect smart TV
From a smart perspective, the TX-L32ET5B uses Panasonic's VieraConnect portal to launch you into all things web-based – and it's a bit of a mixed bag.
We were pleasantly surprised with how the Panasonic handles browsing the web. The D-pad on the remote allows you to move the cursor accurately over web pages. Unfortunately, the browser doesn't support flash.
The VieraConnect Market is your port of call if you want to add apps – there's a decent selection already added, including BBC iPlayer, NetFlix, Facebook and Twitter.
The iPlayer works well, and both standard- and high-definition programmes look detailed and crisp.
Sign in to a Facebook or Twittter account and you can tweet and post comments while you're watching TV, albeit in a slightly shrunken window.
Panasonic TX-L32ET5B: Passive 3D glasses
The shift to passive sets means Panasonic can be much more generous with the eyewear: four pairs of polarised glasses are bundled in the box.
How does passive 3D shape up, on this smaller screen size? Well, the 3D effect is still worthwhile.
You perhaps don’t feel quite as immersed in the picture as you would with a larger screen, but the effects on Avatar stand up to scrutiny with an impressive sense of depth.
The TV displays plenty of detail, with sharp edges coming to the fore, a trait that’s also visible with 2D fare be it via Blu-ray, upscaled DVD or terrestrial TV signal.
More after the break
Panasonic TX-L32ET5B: Picture and sound
Standard-definition programmes from the Freeview HD tuner appear stable and the TV does a good job of upscaling the picture to match its Full HD resolution.
Switch to the HD channels and the clarity and depth of image go up a notch. Again, there’s a degree of uncertainty with motion, and the set has a tendency to flicker when faced with tricky horizontal pans.
Black levels can’t match those of Panasonic’s plasma TVs, but it’s good to see a screen with such impressive uniformity.
Flatscreens often suffer with sound because of their slimline dimension, and the ET5 is really no different. It’s a rather unrefined sound which just gets more unruly the louder you crank the volume.
Panasonic TX-L32ET5B: Verdict
This is a good all-rounder, and now much better value. The passive 3D technology has been implemented well and the overall picture quality is good.
The features and functionality are there too. Motion can be an issue at times, but arguably the biggest hurdle is that you’re not getting much in the way of screen inches for your money.
With its glowing contrast and comfortable passive 3D, the Panasonic L32ET5B achieves full marks.