The set’s biggest issue is that its pictures don’t look particularly sharp, even when watching HD. The main reason for this appears to be motion blur, which appears - especially over SD sources - even with the set’s motion processing in play.
We weren’t particularly impressed by the L37S20B’s colour handling either. There doesn’t seem as much finesse as we’d like when rendering the subtleties of tricky fare like skin tones, and nor is the colour palette as expansive and dynamic as we see with rival sets from other brands - most notably Samsung.
We’ve often found Panasonic’s LCD sets lacking in when it comes to black level response, and the L37S20B doesn’t do anything to change this impression. In these increasingly LED-dominated times we’re being spoiled into expecting black levels beset by much less grey clouding than those produced by the L37S20B. But it’s not just LED sets that make the L37S20B’s black levels feel wanting; even rival budget sets from Samsung and Toshiba handle blacks more satisfyingly. Especially as our test L37S20B sample suffered with a couple of pools of gentle backlight inconsistency in its bottom corners.
We’d expected, at least, to be able to say that the set’s contrast performance doesn’t suffer as badly as most LCD TVs when viewing the TV from the side. But actually, while the picture might not lose contrast all the way across the screen as readily as normal LCD TVs, parts (corners, sides) of the picture start to break down just as quickly - to equally distracting effect.
We realise that we’ve not found anything really positive to say about the L37S20B’s pictures - which seems a bit unfair, we guess, given that its pictures can overall be considered about average for a TV of its price. But such is the level of competition in the TV world now that ‘average’ no longer feels like enough, and inevitably leads to negative comparisons with the numerous above average TVs out there now.
While the L37S20B’s pictures struggle to stand out, at least its sound succeeds a little better. Perhaps because of the set’s unusually chunky design, it’s able to produce decent power and range. There’s a lack of clarity in the upper reaches of the soundstage, and bass can be a little lumpy. But its sound is certainly more satisfying than the flimsy, thin efforts heard all too often from LCD TVs.
We’d hoped as we started reviewing the L37S20B that it’s unexpectedly low price might make it an easier recommendation than the majority of Panasonic’s LCD output. But ultimately the set’s stubborn refusal to stand out from the crowd in any way whatsoever has left us feeling rather cold despite the sub-£500 price.