Viera Cast is one of the best-presented ring-fenced online systems around, and although it’s currently rather light on content versus the offerings from Samsung and Sony, it does already boast Skype, YouTube, Euronews, Eurosport, Twitter, Picasa, and the AceTrax film download service for buying or renting movies on demand (sadly only in standard def at the moment). Other service providers will inevitably appear in the future, too.
The L32G20’s multimedia talents don’t stop with the Ethernet port. For instance, there’s a D-Sub PC port for simple computer connection. Plus there’s an SD slot capable of playing AVCHD, SD-Video, DivX HD, JPEG, MP3, and AAC files, and two USB inputs, which again offer a triumvirate of functions.
At their most basic level they can be used for playing back multimedia files like the SD card slot. But you can also add an optional Wi-Fi USB dongle to the TV if you don’t want to hard-wire it to your network, or you can record from the digital tuners to USB HDDs.
As we’ve stressed before, Panasonic only recommends that you use Buffalo’s JustStore Desktop HD-EU2-UK series of HDDs for making your recordings, so you may have to factor one of those into the L32G20’s price if you don’t have any other digital recording options.
As with many of Panasonic’s most recent TVs, the L32G20 has been endorsed by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). This means it has the tools – most notably a colour management system, and gamma adjustment – to allow an ISF professional to calibrate two ISF-approved Pro presets for you.
Other key L32G20 features are 100Hz processing, with Panasonic’s 24p Smooth Film and Intelligent Frame Creation systems on hand too. Some people hate stuff like IFC on principle, but we found ourselves using it on its lowest setting when watching broadcast sources, at least, since it does make motion look cleaner and smoother without generating many unpleasant side effects.
Generally speaking, though, we found it hard to get really and truly excited by the L32G20’s picture quality. There are two main reasons for this.
First, as we’ve noted before with Panasonic LCD TVs, the L32G20’s black level response isn’t particularly great. There’s evidence of the all-too-familiar grey mist over dark parts of the picture, and a shortage of shadow detail in dark areas. This leaves dark corners looking a bit ‘empty’ and one-dimensional.
The set’s dynamic contrast system is over-enthusiastic at times too, causing noticeable brightness ‘jumps’.