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Panasonic Viera TX-L37G20 review

John Archer

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Reviewed:

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Panasonic Viera TX-L37G20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-L37G20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-L37G20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-L37G20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-L37G20
  • Panasonic Viera TX-L37G20
  • VIERA TX-L37G20 37" LCD TV (1920x1080, 100Hz, Freeview, HDTV)

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Panasonic’s enduring love affair with plasma technology is paying great dividends this season, with all of its models from its G20 series upwards seriously impressing. But there’s a catch for people who can’t easily accommodate a screen of at least 42in in size, in that Panasonic hasn’t introduced its key new NeoPDP technology down to the 37in plasma screen level.

The only 37in Panasonic plasma TV you can get belongs to the brand’s X20 series, which doesn’t use the latest and much-improved NeoPDP engine, and suffers as a result. So if 37in is as big as you go, it might be that Panasonic’s new 37in LCD G20 series model, the L37G20B, is the way to go.

Not that the L37G20B‘s design does anything very much to tempt you in. For in typical Panasonic style, it looks rather perfunctory with its bare minimum of sculptural flourishes - though there does appear to be a hint of blue around when the light catches it right. (A silver version is also available)

The L37G20B hits its stride with its connections, though. For alongside the predictable four HDMIs can be found a wealth of multimedia jacks and not one but two HD tuner inputs. These latter jacks show that the L37G20B joins its plasma G20 brethren in sporting both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners, so that you can receive free HD broadcasts right away, no matter where you live in the UK. Panasonic is currently the only brand offering such twin HD tuner support.

Going back to the multimedia connections, the L37G20B has an Ethernet port, two USB inputs, and an SD card slot, all of which merit a little explanation. The SD card slot is able to play video, photo and music files using Panasonic’s Viera Image Viewer utility, as can the USB inputs. The USB ports can also record video - with seemingly no loss of quality - from the HD tuners to the latest Buffalo JustStore Desktop USB HDDs.

It’s worth stressing in response to one or two emails we’ve received that the flexibility associated with these recordings doesn’t compare with what you might get with a fully fledged separate digital recording device. The USB recording system is designed to be a high quality but convenient rather than completist option. Though of course, you could argue that the convenience factor is rather let down by the fact that the recordings are only guaranteed to work on a single brand of HDD, and can only be played back on the TV you made them on.

One final talent of the USB ports is that they can take an optional dongle to make the TV Wi-Fi capable. Otherwise, you’ll need the Ethernet port to access the set’s triumvirate of network features: 1) access to potential future interactive services from the Freeview and Freesat HD tuners; 2) access to content stored on a DLNA-enabled PC; and 3) access to Panasonic’s Viera Cast online platform.

This platform has long been one of the best presented TV online systems around, but with the recent addition of Skype video calling and the AceTrax movie streaming service to the previous YouTube, Eurosport and Picasa headliners, it’s also become likeably content rich (though it has to be said that it still lags behind the online content level of Philips' and Sony’s latest Internet TVs).

PoisonJam

June 23, 2010, 1:36 pm

"And considering that the P42G20B offers not only five inches more screen size but also superior pictures, surely that’s the screen to go for instead?"





I think a big problem in the TV market is people go for the biggest they can afford or what size looks good in the shop with little thought towards their actual viewing distance, which is what should ultimately determine the screen size you buy.





Sure, pointing out the price of its 42" sibling highlights the poor value of this set, but I don't think it's a natural alternative for the above reason.

Geoff Richards

June 23, 2010, 1:48 pm

@PoisonJam: you're right, to a degree. This 37G20 does seem to be poor value considering the 42G20 is essentially the same price.





And while many people do "go large", I'm not sure their experience is really any worse. Certainly, some readers can only fit a 32 between their chimney and the wall in their lounge. And some prefer the TV to NOT dominate the room.





But there are others where 42 is barely entry-level. Personally, I have a 50 at home and would have larger if I could afford it. Sadly, the economies of scale go out the window above 50 / 52 inches and a 65 is disproportionately higher cost.





Yes, there's a limit - I don't sit in the front row at the cinema for a reason - but for me, bigger is better. :)

Nick G

June 23, 2010, 2:07 pm

> And considering that the P42G20B offers five inches more screen size...


> surely that’s the screen to go for instead?





No because that's a 42" - hence the model number! So it obviously won't be the right size for people trying to purchase a 37"! A Ford Transit van isn't better than a Ford Focus just because it's bigger you know - some people (most in fact) will want the Focus. If you're a total wide-boy chav or telly-addict, then I guess you'll buy the biggest screen which will fit in your lounge, but for the rest of us, we'd prefer our lounge didn't look like the local Odeon.

Geoff Richards

June 23, 2010, 2:35 pm

I'm sure you're not suggesting I'm a total wide-boy chav, Nick, but allow me to present the flipside. Yes, some people will be shopping specifically for a 37 (presumably for size constraints). But for someone with £850 and wonders what TV they can get, a 42 Plasma for the same money as a 37 LCD throws up some interesting Pros & Cons.





They both have Freesat HD and Freeview HD. The 42 is bigger, and is Plasma: "better" picture but heavier, hotter and uses more power. The 37 is more compact (good or bad?) and is "greener", but at a slight cost to image quality.





Horses for courses really.

AJ

June 23, 2010, 3:39 pm

I'm with Geoff on this one. If you have a physical size restraint then that's one thing, but other than that bigger does equal better. I fully understand the point he's trying to make. I've seen a few friends with 32" TV's that are "HD" taking up a small space on the wall and thought how much better a 42" would have been and how much more they'd appreciate the HD. Each to their own though.





I have a 50" too in the main room and also appreciate that big jump in price to anything bigger. I'm really looking for a 56 / 60" Panny with a slim bezel. Could be waiting a while though :(





Also interestingly Geoff, there's no doubt from your comments that (like myself) you believe that plasma is an inherently better technology than LCD. That's good to hear from someone that's tested all the latest kit.





Right now I'm lining up a 42G20 plasma for the snug near the office :)

Tomas Peter Kotal

June 23, 2010, 5:16 pm

I like the review and Panasonic brand in general. It just seems to be a bit overpriced compare to Samsung. If you choose '09 model LE40B652T4WXXU it costs £599.99 and the new '10 LE40C654 £799.99 at Comet. You've got 40 inch telly with a great picture, connectivity, features & bespoke design. I have '09 model hooked up with Samsung BD-P4600 & it does very well for watching DVDs & blu-ray disks. And the viewing distance is just right for any average size room;-).





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DangerousQ

June 24, 2010, 2:16 am

you are missing the point with respect to TV size, what matters above everything else is picture quality. What do most people end up spending 75% of their time watching? SD maybe? The problem with large screens is SD stuff, you look at a low mux Freeview channel on anything above 42" and it just looks a mess. Lets face it most mid range TVS all show HD content superbly. What panasonic do well is upscaling SD and on a 37" screen it looks good (well better than on that 42" plasma) and it will save you a fortune on fuel bills when the country goes into meltdown.

FreQ

June 24, 2010, 5:16 am

Unrelated this...but we just bought a 42" G20....and it's broken less then 2 weeks after purchase.


We're lucky it broke so fast as we're getting a brand new replacement, but WTF? A big white vertical line on the right hand side of the panel.





I expected better from Panasonic. Warning to everyone that it doesn't seem to matter what brand you buy, there are lemons everywhere.

Stuart

June 26, 2010, 8:07 pm

>>The USB ports can also record video - with seemingly no loss of quality - from the HD tuners to the latest Buffalo JustStore Desktop USB HDDs. >>





As I keep gently pointing out in Panasonic reviews, most USB external hard drives should work fine; just make sure that in Timer Programming you scroll down from Ext Rec to USB Hard Drive in the first column..:-)





My TX-P42G20B works fine with a Seagate 1T Expansion USB external hard drive and the recordings are indistinguishable from the original.

Curlyk

July 24, 2010, 12:56 pm

All this "bigger is better" - that may well be, but to automatically say the 42" plasma is better than the 37" LCD seems to me to be totally shallow. The decision as to which is "better" is a personal thing - you all seem to be missing the point that a plasma is going to mirror all light sources behind you, whereas a matte LCD (I believe this one is matte) won't. It doesn't matter how big the screen is or how fantastic the picture quality, when you've got south-facing windows behind you, and all you can see on the TV is the sun shining on it.





Our living room is very bright, lots of daylight. Plasma and other mirror-screens are a total no-go, and is the first thing I look for in a review. But do any of them mention it? Of course not.





Just my ha'perth

Joshman

July 24, 2010, 4:56 pm

After a few weeks research, I bought the TX-L37G20B this week, partly because of the above average reviews given here and elsewhere (Amazon £675). I have to say, image quality has been a major disappointment. Images display a lot of background "noise". Text lacks sharpness. Overall SD picture quality is dull and not very good to look at. I'm viewing the TV from about 8-10 feet away, things get even worse when you get closer. There isn't any improvement when I stand further back about 12ft away. I just can't see how this TV is any good at upscaling a SD signal, whether it's through Freeview or the Sky box. HD quality is a lot better, especially on BBC HD but again on some broadcasts, you notice a hint of "noise" in the background.





I've gone through the display settings,but can't get the picture quality to improve. Can anyone suggest the best combination of settings to get a better picture? What settings were used for this review?





Any suggestions would be much appreciated, at the moment I'm totally gutted and thinking of sending the TV back.

Joshman

July 25, 2010, 3:04 pm

Following on from my comments yesterday, I've found picture quality can be improved by taking Aspect Ratio off Auto. It seems that on Auto, Standard Def pictures are being stretched a little too much to fill the screen. Switching to 16:9 is better, switching to 4:3 is even better, although you then have the black bands down the sides. HD quality is also improved by switching from Auto to 16:9. Overall I'm happier with picture quality than I was yesterday and hopefully by tinkering with the controls some more, I'll be able to improve SD picture quality even higher.

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