Sadly the Panasonic L32ET5’s 2D pictures aren’t quite as successful, for one all too predictable reason.
To start with, all seems well. Bright, colourful footage of the sort you tend to get while watching normal TV looks good. Images look punchy and bright even if you avoid the rather over-aggressive Dynamic preset, thanks to plenty of light output from the screen and a likably dynamic and surprisingly nuanced colour palette (considering how affordable the set is).
Impressive 2D clarity
The set’s clarity and sharpness with 2D HD material impresses too, especially as the inbuilt motion processing manages to reduce motion blur and judder without generating too many unwanted side effects - so long, at least, as you avoid the processing’s "Max" setting.
The main problems come when you turn to dark movie scenes. For these tend to expose a shortage of black level depth from the panel that leaves dark corners looking distinctly grey and pretty low on shadow detail. Colours during dark scenes lose some of their accuracy, too.
This issue hadn’t been as obvious with 3D thanks to the slightly darkening nature of the passive 3D glasses, but it’s certainly apparent in 2D. Especially if the light levels in your room are relatively low. Not for the first time this year we’re left ruing Panasonic’s decision not to put a dedicated backlight control on its 2012 LCD TVs.
Black level woes
Uninspiring black levels are hardly uncommon with edge-lit LCD TVs, though - especially those which don’t employ any sort of local dimming technology. But they’re exacerbated somewhat on the L32ET5 by some trace evidence of backlight inconsistency. Certainly there’s a quite large area just to left of centre on our test sample that looks marginally brighter than the rest of the image. Though to be fair, the key word in that previous sentence is "marginally", as for most of the time you won’t see the inconsistency at all.
Another slight issue is that standard definition pictures aren’t upscaled to HD quite as cleverly as they are by some of Panasonic’s higher-level sets. But the noise left/created by the upscaling system is thankfully hidden quite nicely by the set’s small dimensions. So again, it’s only a minor point.
The sound accompanying the Panasonic L32ET5’s picture is pretty solid for a small LED TV. It can achieve volumes without distortion beyond those of most of its similarly priced 32in rivals, and the mid-range has quite a pleasant, open tone. It’s only during extremely potent audio sequences that the set reveals a predictable lack of deep bass and a few slightly harsh tones in the upper register.
For most of your viewing time, the Panasonic L32ET5 is a very enjoyable TV. It’s especially well suited to relatively casual, bright-room viewing conditions - precisely the sort of situation, in other words, that a 32in TV is most likely to find itself in these days. For that reason, we’ve opted to give Panasonic’s set an overall score of eight.
However, we haven’t added a Trusted Reviews Recommended badge to this score for the simple reason that its underwhelming lack of black level response makes it a flawed option for serious film and, possibly, game fans.