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Panasonic TX-L 42 S 10 42″Flat-panel LCD Review

Panasonic TX-L 42 S 10 42 inch Flat-panel LCD

What Hooked Us:

Accurate 24p reproduction.
Smooth TV operation.
Overscan can be deactivated on the standard-definition inputs.

Why We Grumbled:

Low contrast.
Too few picture controls.
Slight weaknesses in HDTV video processing.
Poor motion clarity in video-based material.

The Final Verdict:

Those looking for a home-cinema TV should probably go for one of Panasonic’s plasmas — this LCD’s weak contrast is particularly irritating in dark environments. But the TX-L 42 S 10 does offer some advantages: low power consumption, excellent ease-of-use, and a decent picture in bright rooms.

Multimedia

It’s no surprise that a TV in this price class offers relatively few multimedia extras. The TX-L 42 S 10’s capabilities are limited to playing back AVCHD camcorder videos and JPEG photos from SD memory cards.

 Other Features

Panasonic TX-L 42 S 10 LCD - connection panel

With a total of three HDMI inputs and numerous analogue connections, the TX-L 42 S 10 is well equipped for its price point.

Most of the Panasonic TVs we review are plasmas, but one of their LCDs has once again found its way into our lab. Compared to what you get on Panasonic’s plasmas, the reviewed model’s features seem rather spartan: It’s missing a swivel stand, a universal tuner, and some important picture settings such as gamma and colour temperature. What’s more, the backlight adjustment only offers two brightness levels.

Still, there’s a light sensor that adjusts the screen’s light output to suit the level of ambient illumination. We also loved the option to switch off overscan both for DVB reception and for signals from the video inputs (Scart, HDMI-576i) — this means you can display signals with no cropping, and is good news for the fine-detail reproduction.

Operation

 Panasonic TX-L 42 S 10 LCD - Remote Control

The Panasonic’s remote control offers easy operation and a comfy grip.

In terms of operation, we were particularly impressed with the excellent channel navigation, which is due in no small part to sensible channel pre-sorting.

The lack of a back button was disappointing, and the Panasonic always starts in tuner mode or on the Scart input. In other words: If you’re using an HDMI set-top box, for example, you’ll have to press the AV button every time.

Also irritating: There’s no message to indicate that the TV is displaying a 24p signal from a Blu-ray player. We also think HD signals should automatically display without overscan.

Picture Quality of Standard-Definition Signals

The picture isn’t all that good in the TV’s factory setup — the “Cinema” AV mode offers the most neutral colours and the best basis for further optimisation. Only when the settings are optimised (see “Ideal Settings” below) can the tuner fully demonstrate its capabilities, deriving an accurate picture from cable signals. Especially with the overscan switched off, the two digital tuners (DVB-T and DVB-C) deliver an attractive, detail-rich picture. We were also pleased with the motion clarity during films. In video-based material, however, the legibility of scrolling texts suffers at the hands of double-edge formation, since the Panasonic lacks technology for improving motion clarity.

We also weren’t very impressed with the processing of external signals: Whereas the Scart input gives an above-average picture, HDMI-576i signals show limited fine-detail reproduction. De-interlacing is also less than optimal: Fine details often show line flicker during camera pans. And at 180 candelas per square metre, the TV is a bit short on brightness reserves in “Cinema” mode — most LCD TVs will produce a more powerful picture in their colour-optimised mode.

Picture Quality of High-Definition Signals

Blu-ray signals result in a sharp, detail-rich picture, but test patterns reveal that the Panasonic slightly dampens the finest details and accents coarser details. Still, 24p signals show authentic judder and no blur. Signals arriving in 60i format spell bad news for the Panasonic’s video processing — there’s obvious line flicker on the seaplane’s stripes in chapter four of “Casino Royale”, for example. The colours are convincing, even if the Panasonic obviously can’t match the accuracy of reference devices such as the Pioneer KRP-500 — in comparison, the TX-L 42 S 10 looks too pink and slightly over-brightened.

The LCD TV also shows some weaknesses in dark viewing conditions: In the candle-lit scenes in chapter three of “Kingdom of Heaven”, for example, the bluish glow of the supposedly black letterbox bars looks completely alien next to the brownish shades of the picture. The contrast of about 1,000:1 is far too low to produce proper depth — a problem you’ll find on many cheap LCD models.

Sound Quality

The built-in speakers don’t point directly towards the listeners and might not be the cream of the crop, but they actually don’t sound half bad. Speech and music are both passable, although the sound is a little thin.

Ideal Settings

Viewing Mode: Cinema

Contrast: 55

Brightness: +2

Colour: 30

Sharpness: 1

Colour Balance: Warm

Colour Management: Off

P-NR: Off

Picture Overscan: Off

These settings apply to realistic playback of HDTV/Blu-ray material through the HDMI interface in a darkened environment. Manufacturing and HDMI playback device deviations might necessitate slight adjustment.

Full Specifications

Dimensions & Weight Details

 

  • Dimensions & Weight Details – Panel with stand – 102.1 cm x 31 cm x 67.9 cm x 21 kg

Connections

  • HDMI3
  • S-Video1

Display

 

  • Dynamic Contrast Ratio – 50000:1
  • Resolution – 1920×1080
  • Image Aspect Ratio – 16:9
  • Diagonal Size – 42″ – widescreen

Power

 

  • Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep – 0.45 Watt
  • Power Consumption Operational – 180 Watt

General

 

  • Height – 63.7 cm
  • Depth – 11.5 cm
  • Width – 102.1 cm
  • Weight – 21 kg

Digital TV Tuner

 

  • Digital TV TunerDVB-T

 

 

 

 

 

 

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