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Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV review




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Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV
  • Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD81 32in Freesat HD LCD TV


Our Score:


Panasonic has been on something of a roll lately. Not only has it been consistently producing great plasma TVs at astonishingly affordable price points, but it has also managed to offer something that other manufacturers don't - an integrated HD tuner. Back in May I got a sneak preview of Panasonic's PZ81 series, with its integrated Freesat HD tuner, and I was pretty impressed. My initial thoughts were borne out when John reviewed the Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 and bestowed it with a Recommended award.

Now I have one of Panasonic's brand new Freesat HD equipped LCD TVs, so it's time to see how it measures up to the plasmas. Panasonic has always had a very black and white view of LCD vs. plasma - it used to be that LCD was offered up to 32in, then plasma took over from 37in upwards. That changed recently, due to the fact that the smallest Full HD plasma that Panasonic offers is 42in (shrinking plasma chambers is no easy task), so the company started producing Full HD 37in LCD screens to fill the gap. But what I'm looking at here is the TX-32LZD81, which is a 32in screen, albeit one that also sports a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution.

It's fairly safe to say that this is one of the most feature rich 32in LCD TVs you're likely to find, from any manufacturer, and if you really are pushed for space, the TX-32LZD81 provides a feature set that far larger screens would be envious of. Despite its relatively small dimensions, Panasonic hasn't skimped on connection options. You get no less than three HDMI 1.3 ports, a set of component video jacks, two RGB SCART sockets, S-Video, composite and D-Sub for hooking up a PC - the maximum PC resolution is 1,366 x 768, rather than 1,920 x 1,080 though. There's also an SD Card slot, for viewing your digital photos directly on the TV. Another welcome addition is an Ethernet port, which is mandatory for any Freesat HD device, and should allow viewing of the BBC iPlayer on the TX-32LZD81 in the not too distant future.

Design wise, the TX-32LZD81 looks tastefully sleek and simple. The bezel and stand are both finished in glossy black, as is the norm these days. There's little to break up the simple lines of the TX-32LZD81 either, with a single power button mounted in the bottom left corner of the bezel, and all the "on TV" controls set down the right edge, behind the screen. The only downside is that the bezel is quite wide and makes the screen look far smaller than it actually is.

Russell Peto

October 21, 2008, 3:35 pm

Thank you Riyad, an encouraging article on a great looking TV and definitely one I'm considering for the bedroom, just one question though:

You mention that "if you're already a Sky customer, you should just be able to run a cable from your existing dish" to use Freesat HD. However, when I went into my local Currys the other day (not the best source of technical knowledge, I know) and asked if I could use my Sky dish for Freesat I was informed in no uncertain terms that I couldn't as the dishes "point in different directions". Was the assistant misinformed?



October 21, 2008, 4:32 pm

Size matters. It doesn't matter how wonderful this TV is its still only 32". And 𧾜 is waaaaay too much to pay for that size.

Matt G Baish

October 21, 2008, 4:55 pm

@Russell Peto - "Currys the other day (not the best source of technical knowledge, I know)" says it all. Freesat is the same sat as Sky uses so you should have no problems with your existing dish - in fact I seem to recall the TV ads saying just that.

iain coghill

October 21, 2008, 5:29 pm

I am in the market for a 32 incher, and when this model was announced I was tempted. I don't yet have a dish but would have considered it. When I learned about the lack of 100Hz though my mind was made up. I don't want it.

Luan Bach

October 21, 2008, 7:18 pm

How long the Panasonic Freesat HD exclusivity on for again ? That price for a 32" is ridiculous. Their 42" version is quite over-priced too, goes to show how competition is good for customers.

Geoff Richards

October 22, 2008, 2:18 am

Righto, time to wade in and counter-balance some disinformation (such a shame that Freesat is constantly marred in this regard)

@Russell - yes, the Currys staffer was talking rubbish. Freesat uses the same set of satellites as Sky Digital. If you (or anyone reading this) is considering Freesat, I strongly encourage you to have a read of the Wikipedia page here http://en.wikipedia.org/wik... as well as the Freesat website here http://www.freesat.co.uk/

It's not overly technical and it means you really understand what is on offer from Freesat, rather than taking advice from in-store sales staff.

@Luan - you need to consider what you get for the money, not just the purchase price. Sure, 𧾜-odd does seem a lot for "only" 32-inches. However, a 1080p model is going to set you back 𧺬 quid, and I don't know how those would compare with the IQ of this model.

Then consider the integrated Freesat HD - that's 𧵍.99 right there. So now we're at at least 𧽁.99 vs 𧾜. Quite what the extra 䀆 goes on I can't say but in general, there's often picture processing or fancy backlight technology that supports a higher price.

There's lots more to these flatscreen TVs than just inches and price...

Andrew Bernhardt

October 22, 2008, 3:01 pm

Hi all

Ive just bought the Panasonic 42inch and it looks OK to me thus far but set up has been baffling. I have Sky + but when I turn the TV on instead of coming up with a channel straightaway I see message saying it can't find Freesat, I can then press Autotune (presumably to find Freesat which it fails to do) or can press AV which gives me am Input Select" menu. I choose AV1 and finally I get a channel. Something's up here surely? anyone have a clue? thanks Andy B

chris cain

November 12, 2008, 1:31 am

Yes the Sky satellite dish points in the correct direction. However you may need to replace the LNB to work with HD reception.

Chris Cain.

Mr D

November 24, 2008, 3:21 am

If I bought this what product would I need to record onto.

Would I be better buying a 32in HD1080 LCD TV with Freeview and no analogue and then buying a Freesat Recorder, such as the Humax Foxsat HD VPR, when it comes on the market?

Andrew 11

November 27, 2008, 7:02 pm

I'm looking at the 37" version of this TV. It's a shame it doesn't include 100Hz processing, but does this really make that much of a difference with the new LCDs? From what I've seen of this model in the shops, scrolling text such as on BBC News and program credits look really smooth. Would the 100Hz really make a difference? Is it worth holding out for an updated model next year?


December 8, 2008, 9:19 pm

I have the TH-37LZD81 purchased in the UK from Soundandvisiononline. It does help to shop around for the best price esp before end December 08 when the incl 5yr warranty ends. Panasonic has changed their policy to dealers and will not offer the warranty on TV's delivered by mail order so you'll have to collect. Fortunately a meeting took me within 30 miles of Sound and Vision (so my company paid the mileage!) and this was worthwhile as the cheapest I could find the 37" version with the warranty was � and S&VOL was 𧿫, so a pretty huge saving! OK down to the TV overall very pleased and I'll just mention the negatives, which are:

a) Hirewired plug, must be for cost and a bit of a downer as I'm used to using better quality QED plug leads. The lead could also do with being a little bit longer.

b) And this is a biggie, standard VESA wall brackets will not fit without modification, due to the position of the co-axial connector position, I had to drill through some of the mounting hardware to enable fitment. I am unsure if Panasonic have done this deliberately to sell their own bracket but would imagine that if the bracket fits other TV's in their range the same problems will be encountered.

I will be the first to proudly admit to not being a visual expert (not being able to see the difference between 1080i & p or blu ray and DVD) but looks good mounted on the wall in the bedroom. Main TV in living room is a Sony KDL46X3000 and I can't see any difference in picture quality. As a tip if you are using old Sky installed cabling then I'd recommend upgrading to WF100 BELDEN WEBRO 100 dB COAX, reason I say this is I tested the Freesat by plugging in one of my Sky+HD Coax connectors in (using standard cable) and the signal strength is up at least 10% using my newly installed better cable.

Good luck & Merry Christmas!!


Victor Ian Clark

December 12, 2008, 5:37 pm

I bought the TX-32LZD81 and have just finished setting it up. Picture is very good from Freesat and some Freeview cannnels but not good connected to my Panasonic DMR-ES20DEB DVD recorder on a SCART. If the DVD is set to RGB Qlink does not control it. All the standard Picture settings on the TV are too brilliant and too much contrast causing saturation. The good news is that I can get rid of my awful Sky box and get all of the Freesat cahnnels where I want them. I live in N.Wales but do not want BBC2w, ITV wales or S4c (Liverpool is closer than Swansea or Cardiff) none of the regional programmes cover this area. By putting a Chester postcode in on set-up I can now get BBC1,2, Granada Channel 4 and 5 in the correct order. I do not know why I have to set the Welsh channels on the Other Satellite (which takes 45 miniutes to scan). But this is the only set up that gives me the five main channels I want where I want them. Freeview gives me all the channels I want but not in the order I want them and my DVD puts them on different channels to the TV. Sky would not even let me get Granada only ITV London.

Its a pity abount the styling and the thick Bezal which is not to my taste and I would have liked the same features on a 26 or 28 inch set but this really was the only set on the market that came close to ticking all my boxes. Thanks for your review it helped the decision,I only paid 𧽑 deliverd of an online site and am pleased with Freesat HD.

Caroline 1

January 18, 2009, 10:57 pm

I’m absolutely delighted with this purchase after some thoughtful research, including of course Trusted Reviews. It’s a wonderfully clear TV and, most important for a non-technical person like me, an absolute doddle to instal. I just plugged the old Sky cable coming in from the aerial into the back of the Panasonic, and it was ready to watch with all the channels literally in second.

However (and here’s the thought for other would-be purchasers), I hadn’t considered the other rooms in the house with old-style TVs. It appears that I can’t take an output from the Panasonic to the aerial socket to then feed satellite TV to the rest of the house. So I now either have to buy a stand-alone freesat receiver box to receive the incoming line from the aerial, which means I might as well have just gone for one in the first place with an ordinary digital TV (i.e. without freesat built in) for less money. Or I have to pay for a new 4 line in set-up from the aerial, one to serve each of the TVs, and buy a normal set-top box for each of the standard TVs to convert them. The outcome is that I have a TV which I love which I’ll probably be watching late into the night because I can’t see any TV at all in my bedroom after digital switch-off without considerably more cost.

Gerald Took

April 17, 2009, 11:17 pm

I bought this TV about a month ago for 𧽑 from a high street shop with 5 year warranty, after my 10 year old Panasonic died. I wanted HD and Freesat and after reading the reviews my choice was 32 LZD 81.which fitted the size of the room. Setting up was easy and the picture is exellent on all inputs, but on BBC and ITV HD there is no difference in quality between Freeview and HD both are super pictures. Is this normal?

Mark 19

April 21, 2009, 2:29 pm

Hopefully these comments may help someone considering purchasing this TV, I have had 4 months to play with this TV since treating myself at Christmas after reading many reviews, its worth travelling a few miles to ensure you get the 5yr warranty, the price I paid is still over 𧴜 less than I can get locally without the 5yr warranty,

Now the TV, first bad points, well one I can think of, after it's done an overnight update it won't switch back on,just sits there with the led flashing, (this has happened 3 times in 4 months)no biggie, just turn off at the mains for a minute to reset itself,

Good points, the picture out of the box is good but not what I'd describe as excellent, but spend a little time setting it up & I'm sure it will be well worth it, I downloaded a test card & went through the TV's many settings until I was happy with them all, now I WOULD describe the picture as excellent, not even rushing to close the curtains in bright sunlight as with previous TV's,

Auto set up in freesat is great,inc BBC-HD (connected to the same quad LNB that I am using to recieve sky) but if you enter Other SAT (non freesat mode) and run a 45 minute scan for all satellites you will find many more signals than those available on freesat at the moment, in fact so many signals that it's not possible to store them all on the TV's 1000 presets, of course a lot of these are encrypted, but you should be able to pick up all "free to view channels" on astra 2A-2D & Eurobird 1, without moving the dish, I have over 500 sat channels stored including Luxe HD, enough to keep most people happy I think,

Very happy with the sound, it's possible to set up volume corrections on each mode, freesat, DVB, AV, HDMI etc so there is no more having to turn the sound up & down as you go from DVD to TV to freesat etc, my laptop linked to the TV provides an adequete picture and sound from the laptop is also available on the TV via an adapter,

One note re Carolines comments about not being able to send freesat to other TV's via the RF lead is true, but if you go into the link settings it's possible to set AV1/AV2 to TV out and then I think you should be able to scart out the channel being watched on the TV to a video sender if you wished, although I use this facility to viera link to my panasonic DVD recorder which works great on Direct TV record & Timer programming on both freesat & freeview

IN CONCLUSION, although I have probably spent a total of several days setting it up over the last 4 months, in my opinion it's the best TV we have ever owned & perfect for our family's requirements and with the ethernet socket hopefully about as future proof as is possible for any TV to be, it will be interesting to see if any new services will be provided via ethernet in the future, I have not tried the common interface up to now but I understand reading comments in various forums that it is possible to recieve pay to view, setanta etc, if I can help with any questions about this TV please contact me at at94@btinternet.com


July 4, 2009, 5:18 pm

Further to Marks comments about hooking up a video sender to AV1 or AV2 - yes this works OK but only if you have the TV switched on at the same time as the TV receiving the signal in the other room. Does anyone have a suggestion how I might watch Sky News in bed even if the TV downstairs is turned off?

Mark 19

July 18, 2009, 11:20 pm

Hi JLO, I don't know if this will help or not, with the LZD81 connected to a Panasonic DVD recorder, I am able to start recording SKY News in non freesat mode, then turn the TV onto standby (TV off tuner still on), the DVD recorder will continue to record Sky News OK with the TV on Standby, so if it's possible to output to a DVD recorder with the TV on standby maybe there is some way to output to a video sender with the TV on standby, I think its a case of conning the TV into thinking that its recording so that it leaves the tuner on, failing that how about a cheap FTA box for your bedroom (ie Fortec Star FS4200 from Maplins @£39.99) and taking another feed off the dish


August 6, 2009, 6:45 pm

I have just bought this TV for £639 (including a 5 year warranty) from Discount Electrical UK, the price advertised here of £569 does not include a 5 year warranty (which is £175 extra with D&G incidentally). I've yet to discover how good the TV performs, but it's in the top 4 of all LCDs and Plasmas tested by Which, which can't be bad.

Jill Clegg

August 26, 2016, 6:53 pm

How do I get freeview channels on my TX32LZD81 PANASONIC HD LCD TV

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