Given the enormous vested interest it has in its beloved plasma technology, it’s hardly surprising that Panasonic has been rather tardy about getting involved in the LED scene. But with the 32in L32D28, the Japanese brand has finally bitten the LED bullet, plumping for the edge-mounted LED approach for its debut screen.
With this in mind, it’s surprising that the L32D28 isn’t significantly slimmer than most ‘ordinary’, CCFL-based LCD TVs. After all, one of the key reasons to go the edge LED route is its potential for making screens exceptionally thin.
Not that the L32D28 is by any means bland aesthetically, however. For starters, the really heavy, metal desktop stand it ships with is designed so that you can slide the TV right down its neck, leaving the TV sitting almost flush with the table. The stand also tilts the screen back slightly, for a more comfortable viewing angle.
Most striking of all, though, is the fact that our review sample was white. Given Panasonic’s monotonous penchant for black over recent years, this high-gloss white finish really comes as a surprise - and definitely a welcome one. Especially as strangely the white finish somehow makes the set’s sculpting look more attractive than the actually quite similar lines carried by the brand’s black screens.
Not that white is your only colour option, either. For the L32D28 is also available in silver and purple alternatives. Blimey. Someone in the Panasonic design department has been on the whisky!
The L32D28’s connectivity is impressive, too. For starters, it boasts a satellite LNB connection as well as the usual RF input, indicating that this is another Panasonic TV that carries both Freesat HD and Freeview HD tuners built in. Panasonic remains the only brand to offer so much HD broadcast flexibility.
The set also enjoys four HDMIs, all of which, according to the instruction manual, are v1.4 affairs. Though only one of them actually supports the Audio Return Channel for shipping digital audio to suitable AV receivers that’s part of the HDMI v1.4 specification.
The set’s other connection highlights are mostly concerned with multimedia features. There’s an Ethernet port, for instance, through which you can access future Freeview/Freesat interactive services; Panasonic’s VieraCast online service; and files on a DLNA-enabled PC. Plus there’s the more predictable D-Sub PC input, and rather more impressively, two USB ports and an SD card slot for direct playback of various video, photo and music formats, including DivX HD and AVCHD.
The USBs have two further points of interest, too, since they also a) let you make the TV Wi-Fi capable via an optional dongle, and b) let you record programmes from the digital tuners to a connected USB HDD.
These recordings work superbly, appearing to our eyes identical to the original broadcasts - but please note that you may need to buy a new USB HDD drive to make the recordings happen, since Panasonic only recommends Buffalo’s JustStore Desktop HD-EU2-UK series as guaranteed to work with its TVs. And certainly no other brands of HDD we had lying around did the trick.
Please note, too, that you can only play back the programmes you record to USB HDD on the same TV you made the recordings through. There’s no shipping them off to a PC or portable video device.