There’s more mixed news with Panasonic TX-L37E5B's Viera Connect menus. On the upside, Panasonic’s Marketplace for buying apps and even hardware accessories (including joysticks, keyboards, 3D glasses, weighing scales and a future treadmill capable of syncing with the TV) is very nicely designed, with sensibly sized icons and some thoughtful shortcuts to get to different market sections.
The main Viera Connect menu system is also attractive with its unusually large "window" icons showing the content each icons leads to. However, the size of the icons prevents many of them being fitted onscreen at once, requiring you to delve tediously through multiple layers of icons to get to some of the available apps.
Highlight services of the latest Viera Connect platform include BBC News, Skype (via an optional extra camera), the BBC iPlayer, EuroSport, YouTube, FetchTV, Twitter, Netflix, Facebook, Acetrax and, for the first time on a Panasonic TV, an open web browser. There are also quite a few more smaller apps than seen in last year's TVs, covering everything from Karaoke to basic games. Of more interest are a duo of surprisingly high quality games from Gameloft: the Asphalt 5 racer, and the self-explanatory Let’s Golf.
The Panasonic L37E5’s picture quality is for the most part good. Even though this is one of Panasonic’s most affordable LCD TVs, for instance, it’s clear right away that the most notable problem with many of the brand’s 2011 LCD TVs, a rather average black level response, has been greatly improved. While the grey mist that appeared over dark scenes on earlier 2011 models is certainly not completely absent on the L37E5, it’s certainly less aggressive - a fact that also helps the set resolve shadow detail in dark scenes more comfortably.
Having a more convincing black level response delivers another predictable benefit too: more natural colours, especially during dark scenes. The set is able to resolve tones credibly down to a much deeper level than its predecessor could - yet crucially this benefit is achieved without compromising the set’s ability to look punchy and dynamic, with brighter, more vibrant colours. In fact, being able to appear against deeper black colours helps generally bright scenes look more eye-catching and potent - even after calibration - than was the case with last year’s equivalent Panasonic LCD models.
Another strength of the L37E5 versus many of its LCD rivals is the consistency of its backlighting. We didn’t become aware of any particular parts of the picture that looked obviously unnaturally brighter than others, even when using a purely black screen feed.