Product Type: Panasonic 3D LCD TV
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A Higher Definition from Panasonic
Member Name: rosebud2001
Advantages: Brilliant picture quality, Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners built in, excellent connectivity
Disadvantages: Doesn't support mp4 videos, is quite expensive
I knew it would have to go at some point after he died. I would, after all, be moving to a smaller home but I was attached to the TV because I had such happy memories of him watching his football and proudly commenting on how brilliant it was to have this huge TV.
Once my house went under offer I decided to sell the 50" TV and find something a little more manageable. I appreciate this is swimming against the tide, but I really dislike rooms being dominated by huge televisions and I reckoned I could easily cut at least 10 inches off the screen size required and still have a fairly decent TV.
After doing a bit of research I decided to stick with Panasonic. I've had Panasonic televisions for over 20 years now and have always been impressed with the picture quality and their reliability. I did realise that by looking at smaller screens I would probably have to forego a plasma TV and opt for either LCD or LED. LED technology is still relatively young and there have been some teething troubles, so I decided to stick with LCD and go for a 37" screen.
I also wanted to have a TV with a Freeview HD tuner built in, so after trawling several websites and reading some professional reviews, I decided to buy the Panasonic TX-L37G20B which ticked all the boxes I was looking for. I purchased the TV from John Lewis for £799 in summer 2010. It was available for £100 less on Amazon but the free 5 year guarantee John Lewis were offering made their price more attractive as Amazon wanted £150 extra for the same cover. The TV is currently on sale for £699 at John Lewis.
I ordered this instore at John Lewis in Edinburgh and arranged to pick it up at their collection point in the city a couple of days later. The TV itself isn't particularly heavy but the way it is packaged makes it a bit tricky to carry because the box is incredibly wide, which led to me stretching my arms to their limit to be able to carry it from my car.
The box contained an instruction manual, the TV, a base stand for the TV, power lead and the remote control.
Set up was incredibly easy. When I think back to the first Panasonic CRT TV we had 20 years ago, and the hassle of tuning in analogue channels, analogue satellite TV and VCRs, this was a breeze.
The base stand is easy to affix to the TV - it took me just five minutes to do. After that it really is a case of plug and play - there are some instructions onscreen at the start for tuning in Freeview but the TV basically does the vast majority of setting up for you and only relies on you for the occasional prompt and in ten minutes you should be ready to go.
The specifications of this TV, along with some glowing reviews, are what sold it to me. As well has having a Freeview HD tuner built in, the TV also has Freesat HD built in.
The picture is full 1080p HD which is the best quality picture you can get on a TV. In addition the TV has 100 Hz Intelligent Frame Creation Pro which gives excellent resolution when viewing fast moving action on your TV - whether that be in sport or in a film.
The TV offers an excellent selection of input sockets which provide flexibility in such a fast moving and developing market place including:-
* 3 HDMI ports
* 2 SCART sockets
* 2 USB sockets
* SD card reader
* 1 composite video input
* 1 digital optical audio output
* 1 RJ45 Ethernet output
* 1 headphone socket
* 1 S Video Socket
The TV has a 37" LCD screen and has two 20 watt speakers built in. Dimensions are 91.5 cm x 28.7 cm x 62.1 cm with the stand attached. The TV is part of Panasonic's Viera range and this makes for easy integration other Viera products such as DVD or BluRay players.
When I first got the TV up and running I was disappointed to see that I couldn't pick up Freeview HD. After a little research I learned this was an aerial issue - unfortunately I had a loft area and it wasn't capable of picking up the HD channels. As I was going to be moving house I wasn't that bothered but I did quickly check Freesat HD before plugging the Sky+ box back in and using the TV purely to watch standard definition TV.
I moved home about three weeks later and had stupidly assumed there would be a decent roof aerial at my new home but unfortunately the aerial on the roof wasn't actually connected to anything. My letting agent arranged for an aerial to be installed but unfortunately the job was a bit of a bodge and done on the cheap - leaving me with a loft aerial which couldn't pick up Freeview HD. Actually it was even worse - it could only pick up about half the Freeview channels.
I eventually gave up on Freeview HD and decided to get a satellite dish instead so my experience of watching the TV in high definition are based on the Freesat tuner, not the Freeview HD one included in the TV.
Although it's taken a while for me to be able to experience the full capabilities of this television (with the exception of Freeview HD) I now feel able to write a review which does this TV justice. It also happens to be my 300th dooyoo review.
Using the TV button on the remote control you can choose from analogue TV, Freeview HD, Freesat HD or "other satellite".
Despite not being able to test the HD capability of the built in tuner on this TV, standard definition Freeview itself is easy to set up and use. The Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) is easy to navigate and use, and the picture quality is good if the signal is from the aerial.
Before I moved home I had no issue with pixellating images and found the picture quality to be excellent but the aerial the letting agents oversaw being installed here was vastly inferior and as a result several channels really were difficult, if not impossible, to watch. I suppose this goes to show that you really do need to rely on someone who knows their stuff when it comes to TV aerials and not an electrician who clearly had no idea whatsoever. This is no reflection on the television of course.
I appreciate that for some people Freeview quite simply isn't available at all, which is why the Freesat HD tuner is such an attractive addition to this TV as satellite signals are far stronger.
There are currently only 3 HD channels available on Freesat - BBC1 HD, ITV1 HD and BBC HD. As I live in Scotland, technically I shouldn't get ITV1 HD but if you have a postcode from the Scottish Borders inputted to your Freesat HD tuner then you get ITV1 HD and I decided to go with that. I can still watch STV on standard definition on Freeview and it's also available manually tuned in to the satellite dish should I really want to watch Michelle McManus waxing lyrical on "The Hour".
The picture quality on these HD channels is stunning - it's not until you can switch from the same channel in standard definition to high definition that you see just how much clearer the picture is and one would hope that in time to come more broadcasters start using HD on the free to air platforms - certainly it is expected that Channel 4 HD will be joining Freesat later this year.
Watching sport is visibly clearer thanks to the high definition and the 100 Hz this TV offers and when you see someone running or something that is fast moving everything seems far more defined and less likely to blur onscreen.
The Freesat tuner also opens the possibility of TV on demand via the BBC iPlayer. This can be done in two ways - either by purchasing a wireless dongle for your TV which is unfortunately rather pricey (£90 last time I looked) or, if your TV set is close enough to your wireless router via an Ethernet cable. Luckily for me my router is located just 3 metres from my TV so although I had to pay a little more than I would have liked for a long cable, it meant I was connected to the internet and by definition, the iPlayer.
The Freesat EPG is just as clear as the Freeview one but it's worth noting that neither provide a link to whatever programme you are watching in a smaller screen inset to the guide as some other EPGs do.
***Other Satellite Channels***
The TV can be manually tuned to pick up more free to air channels which are not on the Freesat platform. There aren't a huge amount but it is possible to tune in Sky News and some extra music channels, along with regional ITV options. There is also another HD channel available called Luxe HD which doesn't really seem my kind of thing but if you are a fan of the lifestyles of the very rich, you might enjoy it.
Viera Cast is another feature which requires an internet connection to work although it has to be said the current platform is a bit limited. You can watch YouTube videos through it although the interface is a little clunky making searching for videos a little tricky, catch video clips of sports events from EuroSport or rent a movie from NetFlix.
Picture quality is good but I find this a bit gimmicky with limited content currently on offer. I expect in time this will improve as more people become aware of the possibilities of connecting their televisions to the internet.
***Watching BluRay discs***
The picture quality when watching a BluRay on this TV is amazing - and that's something I have felt since I bought the TV last year. I have had two BluRay players connected to this television and been delighted with the sharpness of the picture on both. It's also incredibly easy to access the BluRay feature by just hitting the AV button on the remote control and this will give you the option to move to BluRay. Alternatively if you insert a disc into the BluRay player, the television automatically detects it and switches it on immediately.
I have connected a Buffalo external hard disk drive to my Panasonic TV to record programmes. This is the hard drive Panasonic recommend but other drives will work. It is however worth remembering that the programmes can only be watched on the one TV and should you try to link the box to another TV it will automatically format, wiping the programmes you have recorded. You also cannot watch another channel when you are recording a programme.
It's very easy to use - the drive is accessed via the SD card button on your remote control and all programmes you have recorded will be listed. Recording is very easy too - you choose the programme you wish to record from the EPG and then ensure you have selected HDD Record. You cannot switch the TV off at the mains if you are waiting for a programme to record in your absence - this only works if you leave the television in standby.
This is a cheap way to record a programme without having to invest in a PVR but it's worth pointing out the limitations.
There is an SD card slot which enables you to view pictures and video clips with the Viera Image Viewer and I have to say I have been astounded at the clarity of the pictures I have viewed this way. I have a Panasonic digital camera and seeing the pictures I have taken on it is a delight - there's no picture quality loss when the pictures are viewed on the large screen. Similarly you can view video clips and pictures on a flash drive. Video formats supported are DivX and AVCHD which is my only real gripe about the television - I don't understand why it doesn't support mp4 video files.
I have mentioned Viera Link before in the review I wrote for my BluRay home cinema system. Basically this feature will pick up any other Pansonic device meaning you can use just the one remote control for all of them. I was amazed at how quickly my TV remote control detected the BluRay player and this makes watching BluRay and DVDs so easy - there's no need to have stacks of remote controls lying around when one will do everything.
The remote control is clear and easy to understand. If, for instance, you want to watch a programme with subtitles, you merely press the subtitle button and they will come on. Press again and they will go off. Similarly there is a button for text which means you can go straight there without bothering with the red button.
Sound on this television is fair but nothing special. I have been using a home cinema system for sound on televisions for the past few years and I only have to hear the sound coming through any television to be reminded why.
The two speakers provide just 20 watts of power each, which is a bit on the paltry side if you like to watch music programmes or channels but fine for an episode of your favourite soap opera.
I have noticed, however, that the sound volume drops on the HD channels and when watching a BluRay disc. The quality isn't impaired at all but I do have to increase the volume on the remote control a few notches.
I have had this television for nearly 8 months now and have to say I am delighted with it. I appreciate that for many people a 37" screen will be discounted as too small for a living room but don't discount it altogether - it would be just as good in a bedroom.
Not having to link up any boxes for Freeview or Freesat is major plus - I mentioned how much I dislike wires behind my TV when I reviewed my BluRay Home Cinema System so I am sure regular readers of my reviews will understand my reasoning. But the fact that both tuners are high definition just makes this even better.
Picture quality is outstanding on this television too. I was a little concerned about LCD being inferior to plasma but I haven't really noticed any difference since moving over to LCD on this TV. The only time I have found picture quality to be poor has been when the appalling aerial I have in this property has let me down, but that does reiterate the importance of ensuring your aerial is suitable for Freeview and can pick up HD channels.
I feel the TV is pretty future proof too. The fact you don't need an HDMI slot for your HD TV viewing whether that be via Freeview or Freesat makes the three HDMI slots incorporated very useful. I have two which are free at the moment but if I choose to add a box enabling me to record programmes in HD, the slot is there to accommodate it, or any gaming device my daughter might wish to use. The internet connectivity is excellent too - I feel quite sure this is going to become a more important part of TV viewing in the not too distant future.
The only real criticism I have is the fact it isn't compatible with mp4 videos - this is the standard format used when you download a film so it seems a bit silly that the TV cannot handle it. Of course in the grand scheme of things this is actually a very minor niggle.
The other possibly problem is, of course, the price. There is no denying this is an expensive TV - even allowing for the fact it's cheaper to buy now than it was when I bought it last year. I would imagine, however, that the specifications of this TV are the shape of things to come and in a year or so televisions with HD tuners built in will be as normal as televisions with standard definition Freeview tuners built in are now - and therefore cheaper. Let's face it, it's not that long since having any kind of tuner built in to your TV was viewed as a bit of a luxury.
I do believe, however, that you get what you pay for in electronics and while there is no denying there are some brilliant budget buys available, for me Panasonic offer outstanding quality, excellent technology and a clarity of picture I have yet to see from another television manufacturer which is why I will always investigate their products first when I want to buy a new TV. In over 20 years of watching Panasonic televisions I have never been disappointed and the TXL37G20B has continued that tradition.
Summary: An outstanding 37" full HD television from Panasonic
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