There are a few really quite impressive things about the L42E3B’s performance. Particularly pleasing for an affordable edge LED LCD TV is the uniformity of its backlight, which finds dark scenes looking even in their reproduction of black rather than blotchy and uneven as was the case, for instance, with LG’s recently reviewed 55LW650T.
The level of depth to black colours is a cut above the entry-level average too, even though the image doesn’t seem to have to sacrifice too much brightness during dark scenes. Dark scenes thus still look decently dynamic – although it does have to be said that the darkest corners of the image lack shadow detail and so can feel a touch hollow.
The set’s colour tone is unusually warm for an LCD TV, which is by no means a bad thing, especially if you like watching films.
The problems begin with the slightly soft look to the L42E3B’s high definition pictures. Part of this is down to some tolerable but still evident motion blur. But even static images don’t look quite as crisp as we’d like them too.
The L42E3B doesn’t seem quite as forgiving of wide viewing angles as other Panasonic LCD TVs either, and finally pictures look a touch noisy at times, especially – but not exclusively – when you’re watching standard definition sources. You can reduce the impact of this by toning down the colour saturations a bit, but this takes away one of the things we most liked about the picture in the first place.
Gamers may be interested to note that the L42E3 performs exceptionally well for input lag. Using the game preset we measured an extremely stable 9ms of input lag, which shouldn’t have any negative impact on your gaming whatsoever. Note that the lag rises to around 28ms with the Normal preset in play, and that the exact level of lag tends to vary much more from moment to moment.
Sonically the L42E3B is above average for its price level, with a clean, reasonably wide, punchy and involving soundstage that’s strong on treble detail and also has enough mid-range breathing room to shift up a couple of gears during action scenes. Inevitably, there’s not as much bass as we’d like ideally, but there’s nothing you could fairly complain about for £650.
On a sheer performance level, there’s actually nothing seriously wrong with the L42E3B. Its pictures largely avoid the backlight inconsistency problem found on many other edge LED TVs, and are warmly coloured and reasonably dynamic. It even sounds pretty good, which is highly unusual for an entry-level TV.
But it’s impossible to ignore the fact that as pricing currently stands, the L42E3B simply doesn’t make any sense as a purchase when you think how much extra you could get from a Panasonic TV by spending just £35 extra on the L42E30B instead.