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Panasonic Viera TX-37LZD70 37in LCD TV - Panasonic Viera TX-37LZD70
Connection wise the TX-37LZD70 is pretty much par for the course. You get two HDMI ports for digital high definition sources, as well as component video jacks for analogue HD devices, like the aforementioned Xbox 360. Also on offer are two SCART sockets, a D-SUB PC input, S-Video and composite video inputs - anyone who uses the latter on a TV like this deserves to be shot! You also get a CI slot for adding subscription services to the built-in Freeview tuner, while an SD card slot (SDHC compliant) lets you view your digital photos straight out of your camera.
You also get analogue audio outputs, but disappointingly there's no digital audio output. This means that you won't be able to pass through a digital audio stream to an external processor or receiver, since any HDMI sources will be sending the digital audio bit-stream to the TV. It also means that if any terrestrial digital channels start broadcasting Dolby Digital soundtracks, you won't be able to pump them through to your surround sound system either. This isn't the sort of omission I would expect on Panasonic's top of the range LCD TV, especially since the 32in, non-1080p Panasonic TX-32LXD700 does feature a digital audio out.
Another feature that's missing from the TX-37LZD70 is 100Hz processing, something that again is present on the excellent TX-32LXD700. Of course this probably means that we'll see a TX-37LZD700 at some point with all those features and three HDMI ports.
Panasonic quotes a contrast ratio of 8500:1, but this will come courtesy of a dynamic backlight, rather than the truly amazing contrast ratios that are offered by the latest crop of plasma screens. That said, you don't get the annoying brightness shift that plagues some TVs with dynamic backlight control, although the black levels aren't what I'd call class leading. There's also a hint of backlight bleed at the bottom of the screen when watching a widescreen movie. Of course you can negate this by zooming the image, but that's not a practice I would ever recommend.
When it comes to sharpness and fine detail though, the TX-37LZD70 excels. The desert shootout in the HD DVD of Transformers was truly awesome, with every grain of sand and every wisp of smoke beautifully rendered. Even with the scorchingly bright desert sun beating down on the white buildings and sand, you could easily pick out fine detail in bright areas of the scene.
The Matrix Trilogy on HD DVD looked just as impressive, with the TX-37LZD70 having no problem keeping up with the fast paced fight scenes, or the freeway chase in The Matrix Reloaded. Of course the Toshiba HD-XE1 was capped at 1080p, rather than its top end 1080p 24Hz output, but nonetheless, the pictures produced by the TX-37LZD70 were crisp and clear.