Of course high definition performance is only half the story, since we’re all still stuck watching a lot of standard definition TV, and will be for quite a while. Take the Champions League for example, I lament the games that are shown on ITV because not only does that mean I don’t get to watch in HD, but it also means that I have to suffer ITV’s substandard SD broadcasts. Thankfully the TH-37PX70 does a pretty good job with standard definition feeds too, particularly from its built-in digital tuner. Yes, some poor digital feeds can end up looking either blocky or over processed, but that’s no fault of the TV, it’s a symptom of the very low bit rate put out by some Freeview channels.
This is the first TV we’ve reviewed that incorporates Viera Link, which is basically Panasonic’s branding for Consumer Electronic Control (CEC). The point of Viera Link is that all of your AV equipment should communicate, thus allowing you to use a single remote control for most things. Since the DMP-BD10A also supports Viera Link I was able to put this new feature to test. Picking up the Blu-ray remote and pressing the power button results not just in the player switching on, but also switches the TV on and selects the correct HDMI input. Likewise, when you power the TV off, the Blu-ray player automatically shuts down too.
But the real beauty of Viera Link is that your TV actually knows what devices are connected to it even if they’re not powered on. So, if I happen to be watching TV and have the TV remote control in my hand, I can simply press the Viera Link button and I’ll be presented with a list of my connected devices. I then select the device I want to power on – like the Blu-ray player – and hey presto, it turns itself on and the TV automatically switches to the correct HDMI input.
I’m always a bit worried about the sound quality from TVs that hide the speakers – although the aesthetics benefit, the sound quality often suffers. It therefore came as something of a surprise that the sound from the TH-37PX70 isn’t bad at all. Obviously it’s not going to fill your room the way a full surround system would, and it lacks the bass response of some TVs with larger speaker sets, but on the whole the sound is clear and free from distortion. If you like to really pump up the volume during action movies you may want to think about external sound options, but for the most part this TV gives a good account of itself in the sound department.
Panasonic has put some thought into the remote control too – it’s not the best looking device I’ve ever seen, but it is very comfy in the hand and well laid out. The 7-day EPG is also quick to respond to remote control presses, and it’s good to see an option to skip forward 24 hours – other manufacturers should take note.
But even a great quality screen can be let down by a high price, as we saw with the Fujitsu Plasmavision P42XHA58, so it’s good to see that Panasonic hasn’t fallen foul of this hurdle. In fact when it comes to price Panasonic has really put the cat among the pigeons with the TH-37PX70. With a street price of only £775 including VAT and delivery, this TV really is a bargain for anyone looking to make the move up to high definition.
Panasonic has created a great TV in the shape of the TH-37PX70. It may not have Full HD credentials, but the price / performance ratio is staggeringly good. If you’re looking to buy your first HDTV and don’t want anything too big, this Viera will provide you with excellent picture quality at a very attractive price.