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Panasonic TX-32PK3

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      01.07.2002 20:37
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      Panasonics Quintrix tubes are widely admired, but the sets that use them are (understandably) expensive. This set seems to be Panasonics attempt to produce a Quintrix set that will capture some sales from those with less than <GBP>1000 to spend. It's quickly apparent that the corners that have been cut are in 2 areas; superfluous features (it has NICAM sound and 50Hz display), and components/ circuit design. The former area is fine; as A/V recievers and DVD video players become cheaper, the sound facilities of the TV (which should devolve into little more than a monitor) become less and less important. I'm also more concerned with artifacts introduced by 100Hz processing than the flicker of 50Hz sets (which I don't see). The latter area is not fine. There's little point in taking a tube of this quality and pairing it with cheap electronics. The TX32PK3 suffers from poor geometry, poor power regulation (the picture changes size between dark and light scenes), and ghosting (a bright image will leave a noticeable after-image when it leaves). Even a trip into service mode won't help you here; there's very few settings, none of which make much difference to anything. My 4 year old Akai (it's 'rebadged'- almost identical to many other budget sets of the same vintage from people like Goodmans) set far outclasses the electronics on this Panasonic. You'll also have trouble getting the contrast, brightness, and colour levels to look good. I'm not sure how, but however hard I tried pictures looked... /too/ vibrant. Artificially solid. Hrm. And then there's the user interface, which shows little attention to features or usability- even in the 2 most common activities. Changing between A/V inputs and the internal tuner presets is clumsy- there's a separate button to switch between A/V inputs and the tuner so you can't switch directly from an A/V inpu t to a preset, you need to select the preset as a separate step. It's obstructive, rather than intuitive. You can't skip untuned presets. If you 'channel up' after the last preset you don't loop around to an A/V input, or the first preset, you just start seeing the untuned presets. A tiny, but irritating, omission which indicates lazy design. When the sound is muted- e.g. an external amplifier and speakers are providing the sound, as in a common surround sound DVD video player set up- the word "muted" is stuck on screen. It doesn't vanish after a while. All in all, a set which suffers far too much from being a budget version of an expensive set. Avoid.

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