It’s fair to say that 2010 has been the year that plasma fought back. Thanks, chiefly, to its prowess with 3D sources.
Panasonic has, of course, been right at the forefront of this plasma resurgence, serving up a range of plasma TVs that have more or less defined the state of the 3D art in 2010.
The brand has not been nearly as successful, though, with current its LCD range. These have picked up precious few accolades in recent months. Today, though, there seems to be a genuine opportunity for this unfortunate situation to be rectified, as we take delivery of Panasonic’s current flagship LCD TV, the L37V20B.
One important thing to stress about this TV right away is that despite its flagship status, it doesn’t have 3D playback. None of Panasonic’s current LCD TVs do, in fact (though a couple of 3D LCD models are being promised for later in 2011).
However, the L37V20B does seem pretty premium in spec in most other ways. Particularly impressive considering how rare they’ve been this year are its dual Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners. This means pretty much anyone in Britain can get HD broadcasts on the L37V20B regardless of where they live.
The 37in screen enjoys a full HD resolution too, powered by an edge-based LED illumination system. We can’t help but think it might have been interesting to see Panasonic adopt direct LED lighting for its top LCD TV, but it’s not to be.
Other signs of the L37V20B’s premium status find it allowing you to record video - including HD video - from the built-in tuners to USB hard disk drives. So long, that is, as the HDD is one of Buffalo’s JustStore models - a rather limiting approach to recording that looks particularly curious when considered against Samsung’s much more open TV recording system.
The L37V20 doesn’t compromise on its picture processing though; on board is Panasonic’s top-level V-Real Pro 5, complete with Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) to counter motion judder and blur. There’s plenty going on in multimedia terms too, such as playback of video, photos and music from USB storage devices, compatibility with DLNA PCs, and access to Panasonic’s walled garden of online services dubbed Viera Cast.
Among Viera Cast’s highlights are YouTube, Skype (through an optional extra camera), the AceTrax movie purchase/rental streaming service, and EuroSport. But it continues to grate that there are currently no video catch up services - not even the BBC iPlayer that’s now found its way onto so many rival online TV platforms. We personally also wish Viera Cast had an open Internet browser. Just as well, then, that both these omissions look likely to be sorted with Panasonic’s upcoming 2011-range online TV service. Watch this space.