The compromises continue with the L42E3B’s picture features. For you only get ‘Vreal Plus’ processing in the L42E3B rather than the more powerful ‘Vreal Live’ system in the E30Bs; there’s only 50Hz processing in the L42E3B vs a 200Hz ‘blinking backlight’ system in the E30B series; and there’s no Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) or Motion Focus processing on hand to improve the way movement looks.
People who hate motion processing on principal might rejoice at this latter state of affairs, but personally we suspect we might miss not having an extra tool with which to try and fight LCD’s traditional motion blurring woes.
Even the core panel at the L42E3’s heart isn’t built to the same spec as the equivalent E30 model. For while the L42E30 benefits from one of Panasonic’s latest IPS-Alpha panels, with their wide viewing angles and improved response times, the L42E3 just gets a plain IPS one.
You probably won’t be too surprised after all this to learn that the L42E3 isn’t exactly overburdened with picture adjustments. Really, you only get the basics - brightness, contrast, that sort of stuff. There is an ‘Advanced’ sub-menu in the picture section of the onscreen menus, but this only contains options for deactivating overscanning for HD viewing, and calling in Panasonic’s quite likable Resolution Enhancer for boosting the sharpness of standard def sources.
It’s possible at this point that you’re thinking all these comparisons with the E30B are a bit pointless. After all, it’s inevitable that an entry level model like the L42E3B will have less features than a step-up series like the E30Bs. But this is where we get to the meat of our pre-performance issue with the L42E3B. For at the time of writing, the best price we’ve found on the L42E3B is £650. Yet the best price we’ve found on the L42E30B is £685. That’s just £35 more for a TV that delivers numerous significant advantages over the L42E3B. In other words, going for the L42E30B could well be the best £35 you’ve ever spent. Bearing in mind we haven’t actually had chance to test the L42E30B, of course.
To some extent, the L42E3B’s pricing issue makes its performance something of a moot point. But obviously we’re going to cover it anyway, not least because it’s entirely possible that someone somewhere might realise that the current situation with the L42E3B’s price doesn’t stack up, and start flogging it more cheaply.