The L37S20B carries a full HD, 1920x1080 pixel resolution, as you would expect these days. Less predictable given the set’s cheap price and CCFL lighting is a high claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 100,000:1, and 100Hz processing for doubling the image’s refresh rate to improve motion clarity.
Also important these days is the L37S20B’s Freeview HD tuner - though it should be stressed that unlike the G20 series one step up in Panasonic’s range, the L37S20B doesn’t carry an integrated Freesat HD tuner as well.
Heading into the L37S20B’s onscreen menus, we find them continuing the drab impressions created by the TV’s exterior. It’s a menu system Panasonic has stuck with for years, and while it’s efficient at presenting the relevant information simply and concisely, man, it looks dated. The only sign of any ‘fun’ comes with some little illustrative icons that appear when you press the Viera Tools button.
Among the most useful features contained within these onscreen menus are a reasonably diverse set of picture presets, a Vivid Colour option for boosting colour saturations, and a multi-level noise reduction circuit.
An option dubbed ‘C.A.T.S’ initially looks interesting, but actually turns out to be just a fancy name for the now commonplace eco-friendly technology that can automatically adjust the picture’s brightness in response to light levels in your room.
If you’re not familiar with Panasonic’s current menu structure, you might be forgiven for thinking that’s your lot where features are concerned. But actually, tucked for no apparent reason within an ‘Other Settings’ submenu of the ‘Setup’ menu (I) you can find options for turning off overscan with HD images, setting the level of Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) system, and defining the power of a Resolution Enhancer system.
IFC, as its name suggests, can create and interpolate extra frames of image data, in a bid to make pictures look more fluid. And the resolution enhancer is also self-explanatory, allowing you to choose to some degree how much extra sharpness the TV tries to add to standard definition sources.
Both these latter features are worth investigating, but at the same time should be handled with care. For instance, while IFC made some sources look clearer when set to its mid level, its high mode started to leave pictures looking unnatural and troubled by a few processing artefacts.
Similarly, with the Resolution Enhancer you shouldn’t use its highest-level setting as this can make pictures look unduly noisy. But provided you’re watching a reasonably clean standard def source, we’d say it can deliver positive benefits on its mid setting.
Unfortunately, though, despite the efforts of its various processing tricks the L37S20B’s picture quality is resolutely nothing special. Not particularly because it gets anything spectacularly wrong, but more because it doesn’t do anything spectacularly right.