Don’t go thinking that this TV is only good with the pictures produced by its built-in HD tuner though, hook up a Blu-ray deck via one of the HDMI ports and you’re in for a treat. Firing up the brilliant Iron Man Blu-ray resulted in a far more cinematic experience than I would have expected from a screen this small. With the lights dimmed, and the action coming thick and fast, I barely remembered that I was watching a 32in screen. In particular, the scenes in the desert were beautifully rendered, with impressive amounts of detail, despite the bright, oversaturated nature of the setting. Darker scenes, like the Stark’s arrival at his party, and the fight at the end of the movie are also handled well, although the TX-32LZD81 is no match for one of Panasonic’s plasma screens when it comes to black levels.
I must point out that I’m not saying that the black levels are poor on the TX-32LZD81, because they’re not. Panasonic quotes a contrast ratio of 10,000:1, which is obviously a result of dynamic backlight technology. Panasonic calls its dynamic lighting Intelligent Scene Controller, and I have to say that it’s one of the better implementations that I’ve come across. Sometimes a dynamic backlight can cause more problems than it resolves – the most common issue being a clearly discernable drop or jump in brightness as the system tries to cope with changes in contrast. The TX-32LZD81 exhibited no such issues, although it’s also worth remembering that this kind of problem is always more noticeable on larger screens.
Colours are also well resolved, with skin tones especially looking very natural and lifelike. This resulted in HD close up shots looking particularly realistic, with none the slightly sickly palls that afflict lesser TVs. Even more impressive is the fact that the TX-32LZD81 managed to avoid looking over saturated even when fed low quality SD sources via its Freeview tuner, a feat that shouldn’t be underplayed. And while I’m on the subject of standard definition, the TX-32LZD81 put in a sterling performance in this department too, even when faced with the truly awful, low bit rate fare that haunts the corridors and rooms of Freeview.
Like most flat screen TVs these days, the TX-32LZD81 has its speakers hidden away beneath the screen, which makes for a sleek, uncluttered look, but also limits the size of the speakers that can be employed. That said, even in the aural department, this TV does a pretty good job. OK, so you’re not going to get all the shock and awe that would accompany a proper surround sound setup, but for general TV and movie watching, the sound is loud and clear enough to satisfy.