It’s a startling testament to just how completely LED lighting has taken over the LCD world that even Panasonic’s entry-level E3 LCD TVs - as represented today by the 42in L42E3 - use edge LED lighting rather than the old CCFL system.
Not that we’re complaining; after all, while edge LED lighting can cause some backlight consistency issues, it also frequently delivers richer colours, more dynamic contrast ratios and higher brightness levels.
We’ll find out later how much the L42E3 delivers on these potential edge LED talents. But unfortunately we’ve first got to explain why the L42E3B pretty much lost us before we even switched it on.
First impressions of the set aren’t bad. For while it’s not quite as glamorous as the E30 series, it’s certainly more attractive than Panasonic TVs of old thanks to its high-gloss bezel and slender profile. The main difference is that the L42E3’s bottom edge is split into two ‘tiers’, with only the bottom tier fading into grey over the screen’s central portion, whereas the L32E30’s bottom edge is just one big ‘tier’, meaning the whole of its central third fades into grey. Hmm. Not sure we described all that particularly well. Maybe you could just look at the pictures?!
The first serious differences between the L42E3B and E30 models appear when you get to the L42E3B’s connections. For instance, it has three HDMIs versus the four of the E30B series. And it doesn’t have any USB inputs at all whereas the E30B TVs have three. This means there’s no means of playing back multimedia files from USB devices - something that even much cheaper sets from the likes of Toshiba have been offering since last year.
There is, at least, a LAN port. But there’s disappointment to swallow here too, for rather than providing access to Panasonic’s Viera Connect online platform, or files stored on a networked PC, the LAN port is merely there to provide the contractually obliged lip service to the L42E3B’s built in Freeview HD tuner. In other words, it doesn’t really do anything much at all right now.
Not surprisingly with no real online functionality, the set doesn’t support Wi-Fi, and the lack of any USBs also clearly means the L42E3B doesn’t join the E30B series in offering recording from the Freeview tuner to USB HDDs.