Having kicked off its 2012 TV range in very respectable if rather unexpected fashion, with the passive 3D L42ET5, Panasonic’s second foray into our test rooms, the Panasonic TX-L37E5B, finds the brand on more familiar ground.
The L37E5 is, as its name suggests, a 37in TV (a size increasingly shunned by other brands). It’s an LCD rather than a plasma model, with the absence of a "T" from its name revealing that, unlike the ET5 series, it doesn’t have any 3D capabilities.
This is not to say it’s a completely stripped back, feature-free affair, though. Particularly surprising given that the L37E5 sits just one rung off the bottom of Panasonic’s latest TV range is its carriage of Panasonic’s Viera Connect service. The set also claims to have a 150Hz cycle - though please note that in ‘reality’ this is actually a 50Hz native scan rate backed up by backlight scanning.
Unlike the LG-panel ET5 series, the L37E5 is all Panasonic’s own work. Which means it has a Panasonic IPS Alpha panel inside, designed to deliver watchable pictures over a wider viewing angle than ‘normal’ LCD panel designs.
Despite its affordability, the Panasonic L37E5 also enjoys a Full HD native resolution and edge LED illumination, as well as some (admittedly fairly minor) processing tricks in the form of Clear Cinema to improve vertical resolution for movie images, and a digital noise reduction system.
When it comes to setting the TV up, you can call up an Advanced picture setting menu that lets you adjust the set’s white balance and gamma settings. We were quite pleased to discover, too, that the set supports pretty wide-ranging video, photo and music file format playback from USB sticks or SD cards, as well as the option to hook up to DLNA-enabled PCs.
Other connections beyond the SD slot and two USB ports used by the above features include a welcome four HDMIs and the inevitable LAN port for hard wiring the TV into your network. You can also connect the TV to a Wi-Fi router, but only if you first splash some extra cash on an optional USB Wi-Fi dongle. Unlike the ET5 series, Wi-Fi is not built in as standard.
Something the Panasonic L37E5 does share with the ET5 series, though, is surprisingly attractive looks. Panasonic has finally got its act together in this increasingly important area of TV appeal, with the L37E5 boasting a crisp glassy finish over its stylishly angular black bezel, rounded off by a cute little transparent trim extending beyond the main frame.
The L37E5’s operating system, meanwhile, is... OK. The remote is respectable, but there’s a growing sense that Panasonic is shoehorning more and more features on to an old design that’s struggling to cope.
As for the onscreen menus, the main set up ones are rather bland and cluttered looking. Especially when compared to the menus sported by some rivals these days. But so long as you don’t let yourself be intimidated by them, the menus are reasonably logical in their organisation. The one serious annoyance is that you can only access the white balance and gamma adjustments in the Picture menus if you first select an ‘Advanced’ option in the Setup submenu.