Styling and Connections
The remote is the standard Panasonic remote which carries over the colour scheme from the display itself and is made of silver and grey plastic. It is simple, well laid out, comfortable to hold and easy to operate with one hand. It is intuitive to use and includes a number of useful buttons such as the VIEREA CAST, Tools and Link functions as well as Menu, EPG and Aspect Ratio. One feature that I did like was the separate buttons for the TV and AV inputs, which is handy if like me you are constantly switching between the TV and one of the AV inputs.
The TX-L37V20B comes well apportioned as far as connections are concerned with enough for even the most demanding consumer. At the back there are 3 HDMI inputs, one of which is v1.4 and includes an ethernet channel and an audio return channel(ARC). The audio return channel allows the display to send audio when connected to a v1.4 equipped AV Receiver. There are also 2 SCART connections, a LAN socket, component video (Y, Pb,Pr) using 3 RCA phono type connectors, an optical digital audio out, a USB port and an audio in and audio out, both using 2 RCA phono type connectors. Also at the back there is an antennae connection for receiving Freeview and a satellite connection for receiving Freesat.
On the left hand side there is another HDMI input, another USB port, a headphones socket, a SD card slot, a CI (Common Interface) slot and a composite video and audio in using RCA phono type connections. Its a minor complaint but I still feel that Panasonic would do better to use downward facing inputs to allow consumers to mount their display very close to a wall, especially on these ultra thin displays where wall mounting is quite likely.
Menus and Set Up
The Sound menu offers three distinct modes which are Speech, Music and User, with User allowing you to customise the audio set up using an equalizer. There are also more general controls such as Bass, Treble and Balance as well as a setting for the distance between the speakers and the wall. Overall I found the sound of the TX-L37V20B to be quite good and actually better than the D25 that I reviewed earlier which is surprising when you consider how similar these displays are in most other ways.
As with other Panasonic LCD displays the TX-L37V20B doesn’t have a dedicated Contrast control, there is just a backlight control which is rather confusingly called Contrast. Without an actual Contrast control on the TX-L37V20B you can’t properly adjust the luminance of white, which will make eliminating any clipping very difficult. There is, however, a Brightness control for adjusting the black level, a Colour control and a Sharpness control. The C.A.T.S. (Contrast Automatic Tracking System) is designed to adjust the backlight depending on ambient lighting conditions but this can cause fluctuations in the image and is best left off. Finally there is a P-NR (Noise Reduction) function that is designed to reduce compression artifacts but I found this control to be of no real benefit so I turned it off.
If the Professional1 or Professional2 mode is selected you will have access to the Advance Settings in which there are menus for white balance, Colour Management and gamma. The White Balance menu allows two point calibration of the greyscale, the Colour Management allows adjustments to be made to the Hue and Saturation of the three primaries and the Gamma setting allows a selection of different gamma curves.
The TX-L37V20B has 100Hz which effectively doubles the frame rate as well as Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation which uses frame interpolation to automatically compensate for the picture frame rate thus removing judder and making images smooth and clear. When watching Blu-rays encoded at 24fps the TX-L37V20B has a 24p Playback function that will increase the frame rate to a more appropriate 96Hz which is a multiple of 24. There is also a 24p Smooth Film function that does something similar but includes frame interpolation. The TX-L37V20B also includes C.A.T.S. (Contrast Automatic Tracking System) which is designed to adjust the backlight depending on the ambient light
The TX-L37V20B includes VIERA CAST which is Panasonic’s version of internet TV and allows access to selected online content such as YouTube and Eurosport videos and Google’s Picasa Web Albums. It isn’t a web browser but it does provide information such as weather and news and Panasonic plans to add Skype and Twitter in the near future. I found that the included WiFi dongle worked very well and never had any issues connecting to my wireless router.
The TX-L37V20B also includes VIERA Tools and VIERA Image Viewer which allows you to access photos, music or videos either through the SD card slot, the USB port or streaming from your home network via DLNA. In addition you can use a USB port to connect the TX-L37V20B to an outboard HDD but I wasn't able to actually test this function. Finally there is VIERA Link which allows you to control any other VIERA products you might own.
Measured Results Out of the Box
For the purposes of these tests I used the True Cinema mode which represents Panasonic’s attempt at a calibrated preset. Since Contrast actually seems to control the backlighting I set that to suit the viewing environment but I left the Brightness and Colour settings as they were. I set the Sharpness to zero and for the same reason I turned the Resolution Enhancer off. The C.A.T.S. and P-NR controls were already turned off but I also turned off the Intelligent Frame Creation function as well. The Gamma function was already correctly set to 2.2 and hopefully the actual curve will be close to that number.
Much like the greyscale measurements the colour gamut performance shown on the CIE chart was also very good for an out of the box preset, with the TX-L37V20B measuring very close to Rec.709. The Luminance and Hue measurements are excellent but the Colour is a little oversaturated in the three primaries and two of the secondary colours but overall the colour reproduction is very good. The TX-L37V20B includes a Colour Management System so once again I would hope to make minor improvements with calibration.
Calibrated ResultsAs has been mentioned on many other Panasonic reviews the design of the menus is very frustrating for calibrators. The sliders for adjusting the CMS and White Balance appear over the very point where the meter is trying to measure the IRE window. Since I have recently calibrated another Panasonic I was already familiar with a work around and thanks to the excellent out of the box performance the adjustments required were minimal.
Panasonic are to be congratulated for including ISFccc controls but perhaps next time they could include 10 point greyscale calibration and a proper 3D CMS with control over all six colours which would bring them in line with many of their competitors.
Video ProcessingThe performance of the TX-L37V20B in the video processing tests was very good overall, with just the usual cadence issues that I have come to expect from Panasonic displays. Using both my PAL and NTSC HQV benchmark discs I first checked the SMPTE colour bar test which the TX-L37V20B easily passed, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The TX-L37V20B also scored very highly in the jaggies tests on both discs as well as performing very well on the diagonal interpolation test, with two of the three moving bars appearing smooth and only the bottom most extreme bar showing very slight jaggies. The TX-L37V20B also had no problems in resolving all the fine brickwork in the detail tests on both the PAL and NTSC discs.
As expected the TX-L37V20B did not perform so well in the film detail test and failed to correctly lock on to the image resulting in aliasing in the speedway seats behind the race car (for those of you who are familiar with the HQV test footage). The TX-L37V20B failed all the cadence tests and was unable to correctly detect either 2:2 (PAL - European) or 2:3 (NTSC - USA/Japan) as well as a number of less common formats. However the TX-L37V20B did perform well when displaying film material with scrolling video text, correctly displaying the words without blurring or shredding.
The TX-L37V20BB also performed very well in most of the tests on the HQV Blu-ray using high definition content. With the player set to 1080i the display correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests (provided the 16:9 mode is correctly set with overscan off) and showed good scaling and filtering performance as well as good resolution enhancement. The TX-L37V20B also had no problems in showing video text overlaid on film based material. As with most other LCD displays the motion resolution is not up to the standards of a good Plasma screen.
The TX-L37V20B handled 24p content without any problems, although you needed to make sure that the 24p Smooth Film function has been turned off or you will introduce unnecessary artifacts and any film based images will have a video look to them.
I used my Spears and Munsil test disc to check the headroom performance of the TX-L37V20B from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) and there was clearly clipping above video level 245 which just confirmed what I had suspected during calibration. A display should be able to clearly show detail up to the peak white video level of 255 but it is unlikely you would ever notice clipping above video level 244 in actual viewing material.
Overall this is an excellent set of results and the video processing of the TX-L37V20B is very good with the notable exception of film cadence detection which Panasonic really needs to correct.
Gaming PerformanceIn the Professional1 mode the TX-L37V20B measured an input lag of 40ms which is actually quite good and better than a lot of other displays I’ve tested. However in Game mode that improved to 10ms which is excellent and should keep even the most hardened gamer happy.
Energy ConsumptionThe energy consumption of an LCD display tends to be very consistent and largely depends on the brightness setting of the backlight, rather than being affected by the on-screen images. However dynamic contrast functions like C.A.T.S. will affect energy consumption because these controls vary the backlight and brightness of the display depending on the image and ambient lighting. In the Normal mode setting the TX-L37V20B consumed approximately 40w at 0ire and 70W at 50ire and 100ire and using the calibrated Professional1 setting it measured about 80w at all three levels; the difference was mainly caused by me disabling the C.A.T.S. function. In standby mode the TX-L37V20B consumed less than 1W of energy, so overall the energy consumption performance was quite good.
The TX-L37V20B also includes Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation Pro which adds 100Hz frame interpolation and motion focus technology which is designed to further enhance the motion resolution. Whilst I have no problem with doubling the frame rate from 50 to 100 or using 24p Playback to increase the frame rate of a Blu-ray disc from 24 to 96 I am not a fan of any form of frame interpolation. Even though I can sometimes see slight improvements in video based material, I don’t find the improvements really warrant all the fuss that manufacturers’ marketing departments make and, ultimately, these systems make little or no difference to the motion limitations inherent in LCD technology. Worse than that, when used in conjunction with film based material the interpolation has a detrimental effect on the image, which loses all sense of being film-like and begins to look like video. Personally I rarely use any frame interpolation functions and, to be honest, I almost always just leave them off.
One of the major selling points of the TX-L37V20B is its use of an IPS panel and the improvements of this technology were evident when I tested the display’s off-axis performance. When viewed from the sides the image did not suffer from the usual loss of contrast and colour desaturation that plagues VA panels. There was a slight loss of contrast when viewed at extreme angles but the colour reproduction remained solid and the TX-L37V20B clearly showed superior off-axis performance, especially compared to the VA panels I have tested. Unfortunately due to the LED Edge backlighting the backlight uniformity could have been better and whilst certainly not as bad as other displays I’ve tested there was some slight clouding, especially at the edges themselves. I felt the black levels on the TX-L37V20B could also have been better and I suspect this is a result of both the IPS panel and the edge backlighting. I suppose that is just the price you pay for an ultra thin display and improved off-axis performance. Sadly no display technology is perfect and there are always compromises.
- True Cinema provides a very accurate preset
- Excellent Greyscale performance after calibration
- Excellent Colour accuracy after calibration
- Deinterlacing and scaling capabilities are very good
- IPS panel provides very good off-axis performance
- Full ISFccc Calibration controls
- Freeview HD and Freesat HD built in
- VIERA CAST Internet TV features plus included WiFi dongle
- Extensive networking and connectivity options
- Excellent input lag in Game mode
- Black levels could be slightly better
- Backlighting uniformity could be better
- Still lacks film cadence detection
- Menu system needs to be redesigned for easier calibration
- Downward facing HDMI inputs would make more sense on an ultra thin display
Panasonic V20 (TX-L37V20B) Review
The TX-L37V20B isn’t perfect of course, as is often the case there is always a compromise somewhere along the line. The use of an IPS panel means that the off-axis performance is much better than most LCD displays but the black levels could be a little better. Also the use of LED Edge backlighting might mean the display is ultra thin and energy efficient but the backlight uniformity could be a little better too. Given the otherwise excellent video processing it really is time that Panasonic fixed the cadence detection issues that plague all their displays. My only other complaints are fairly minor ones relating to the position of the rear inputs and making the menus more calibrator friendly.
Ultimately though the TX-L37V20B provides some of the best out of the box images I have seen to date from an LCD TV and this coupled with the excellent features and very reasonable price means that I have no hesitation in giving this display a Best Buy award.
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