Sadly, though, at least some of the good work we’ve just described is undone by a single depressing – and slightly unexpected – weakness: an uninspiring black level response.
If you stick to the relatively contrast-light fodder of daytime TV, you probably won’t notice this issue. But the pitch blackness of parts of J F Sebastian’s flat in ”Blade Runner” gets reduced to a misty greyness by the 32LZD80’s inability to get as dark as we’d like it to. Even using the ‘Cinema’ preset doesn’t make a significant difference. Darn.
I also felt that the 32LZD80’s colours, while natural, weren’t especially vibrant, and that HD pictures weren’t as pin sharp as expected given the panel’s full HD resolution – though if this is the price you have to pay for the noiseless finish to images I described earlier, I guess it’s fair enough.
We’ve previously been critical of the audio talents of sets at the lower reaches of Panasonic’s LCD ranges. But the 32LZD80 marks a big improvement, managing to squeeze much more power and dynamic range out of its speakers, and getting solid help from one of the more respectable ‘3D sound’ processors around, BBE’s ViVA system.
The 32LZD80 seems to have all the right things in all the right places spec-wise, performs well in many ways, and is a decent price all things considered. Yet I can’t help but feel a touch disappointed that on the evidence here Panasonic doesn’t seem to have advanced its black levels much at all since its past LCD generation.
Oh well – maybe the brand’s upcoming bigger LCD models will fare a little better. And heck, even if they don’t, there are always Panny’s new plasmas to look forward to!