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Panasonic Viera TX-L32G20 - Standard Def Woes and HD Thrills
The other big issue we have with the L32G20 concerns its standard definition performance, which is frankly pretty poor. Even with the set’s Resolution Enhancer circuit in play, standard def pictures look rather soft and low on detail, as well as appearing slightly noisier than we’d like.
Standard def images seem slightly more prone to motion blur than HD ones, too, but worst of all is the difficulty the set has with retaining a natural colour palette when you switch to standard def. The nice, natural, reasonably (though not explosively) dynamic colour range evident with HD viewing is replaced by a really rather crushed palette, replete with slightly off-kilter tones and a generally unnatural overall tone.
The standard def shortcomings are made all the more obvious by the fact that the L32G20 is a really pretty good HD performer. Prince of Persia on Blu-ray and Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 both look extremely sharp and full of texture, for instance - especially as, unlike with standard def, there’s little if any motion blur around.
As noted earlier, colours suddenly improve dramatically when you switch to HD, too, noise becomes more or less non-existent, and oddly even the picture’s contrast seems to get better.
Now that we’re in a more positive frame of mind, we should also stress how cool it is that the L32G20’s contrast and colour don’t drop off significantly if you’re forced to watch the TV from a wide angle. Resulting from the L32G20’s use of an IPS Alpha panel design, this wide viewing potential is a real plus point versus the vast majority of LCD TVs.
Sonically the L32G20 is pretty solid by 32in LCD TV standards. A lack of response at the deep bass end of the audio register is apparent during your average movie explosion or UFO fly-by, as is the case with almost all flat TVs. But the mid-range is open and clear enough to present all but the most OTT action sequences with decent clarity and believable tones, even when handling deep male voices.
Although its Freesat HD tuner might be enough in itself to lure in 32in TV buyers not currently served by the Freeview HD service, the L32G20 has to count as something of a disappointment given its Panasonic branding. Even at the discounted price we’ve found it going for online.
There’s an unfortunate irony here too, in that the rather average feel of the L32G20 is thrown into particularly stark relief by the outstanding efforts of its own larger, plasma-based G20 series brethren.