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Panasonic Viera TX-P37X10 37in Plasma TV
With Pioneer's plasma business officially down the toilet, and (refuted) rumours recently that LG was thinking of ditching plasma too, Panasonic probably doesn't know what to do with itself right now.
Should it punch the air in glee at the death of some serious competition to its plasma business, or should it be seriously concerned that the plasma technology it's championed and invested in for so long just isn't what mainstream punters want any more?
Not knowing the answer to this question may explain the extraordinary breadth of Panasonic's new TV range. For it incorporates no less than eight new series of products, taking in LCD as well as plasma technology, covering a vast amount of features (including some really interesting new stuff on the higher-end models), and satisfying a really broad range of price points.
In other words, either Panasonic is feeling so confident it thinks it can try its hand at anything, or else it's doesn't quite know where to focus its efforts going forward, and is hoping that the public will help them make the right choices based on whatever sells well from the massive new product range.
With all this in mind, and with more pressure than ever on Panasonic's shoulders to fly the plasma flag, it's perhaps a bit disappointing to discover that the first TV from the new line-up we've been sent isn't one of the brand's flagship models, but rather a model from the X10 range - a range that sits only one rung up from the very bottom of the latest Panasonic TV pile.
But before I get too deflated, the 37in TX-P37X10's relatively low-end status means it might well turn out to be one of the brand's most mass-market propositions. After all, we've already found it online for under £600 - a very aggressive price point for a hot-off-the-presses telly from a respected brand.
The P37X10's price focus is reflected in the TV's design, it has to be said. It's glossy enough to not actually be ugly, but it isn't slim enough, stylish enough or curvaceous enough to stand out in any significant way from today's insanely crowded shelves.
Things look up a bit with the TV's connections, though. For its budget price hasn't stopped it entertaining three HDMIs - one down the side - together with a D-Sub PC port and even an SD card slot. This SD slot is limited to JPEG playback rather than also handling MP3s and AVCHD/MPEG video files, but frankly, it's nice to find any sort of SD support from Panasonic at this price level.
Not surprisingly, the P37X10's feature count doesn't include anything particularly new or ‘fancy'. But it's not wholly without interest. For instance, 100Hz is on hand to double the frame rate and thus, hopefully, reduce flickering over edges and judder.
The screen also claims a startling 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio - the ‘dynamic' bit referring to an Eco mode that can dim the image's brightness output automatically in response to the ambient light conditions in your room. Worth a mention, too, are a basic colour management mode and a noise reduction system.