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Reviewed: 07 October 2010
Recording function available only on a limited range of hard drives
Somewhat overshadowed of late by the slender LCD offerings of their competitors, Panasonic have now joined the ultra slim LED party with the D25 range of LCD TVs.
Not so long ago Panasonic were one of those manufacturers who were setting the trend for LCD TV design. An attractive gunmetal finish along with an innovative lacquer technique which creates the illusion of a raised inner bezel around the screen has gone some way to re-establishing Panasonic's design credentials.
While the screen depth of less than 4cm is a step in the right stylistic direction, the D25 doesn't quite have the 'wow' factor of some of its competitors, notably Samsung. What Panasonic have done however is create a range of LCD TVs that can at least turn some heads and get noticed within the throng of flat panel TVs.
The L37D25 not only gets a built in High Definition Freeview tuner but also a Freesat tuner, which makes it highly likely that owners will be able to pick up some form of subscription free High Definition programming.
Screen:: 37in 16:9 Tuner: Digital Sound System: Nicam Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Contrast Ratio: na Other Features: Freeview HD, Freesat, IPS, Viera Cast, 100Hz, DLNA. Sockets: 4 HDMI (v1.3), 2 SCART (RGB), 2 USB, S-Video, Component Video, Composite Video, PC input.
One of the benefits of Freeview HD is that not only do you get the standard set of Freeview channels, but you also get the BBC HD channel, ITV's equivalent, and Channel 4 HD.
Bear in mind that Freeview HD services are currently being rolled out across the UK, so it is important to check via Freeview whether they are available in your area.
Covering around 98% of the UK, the vast majority of consumers will be able to pick up a Freesat signal. You get the BBC HD and ITV HD channels as well as access to the BBC iPlayers TV on demand service.
With Viera Cast, Panasonic's internet portal, you can enjoy the likes of YouTube, Twitter and the Eurosport channel direct to your screen via your broadband connection. Having made a wired connection via the Ethernet socket or optional wireless dongle you can also access Skype with a Panasonic web cam.
You can also stream media files across your home network via an DLNA compliant device. The L37D25 supports JPEG, MP3, DivX, MPEG and AVC-HD formats.
Of course, you get Panasonic's brand new LED panels which also feature an update to IPS technology which has addressed one of LCD TV's long standing bug bears, the loss of clarity as the viewing angle increases.
Connections include 4 HDMI's and there are two USB inputs which can be used with the L37D25's HDD PVR functionality to record TV programmes onto an external hard disc drive. There is also an SD card slot along with older composite and component inputs.
While the likes of Sony and Samsung have steadily improved the black level ability of their LCD TVs year on year, Panasonic have been a little less consistent in this area. 2009 Panasonic LCD TVs were a disappointment and we are hoping for much more from the L37D25.
Initial impressions are good, with a range of reasonably deep blacks across a variety of viewing conditions. We have not been great fans of LED backlighting from the outset but in this case pictures are presented with very little evidence of greyness.
Look at little closer however and you will notice very little of the graduated detail across really dark scenes that we take for granted from Plasma technology and the better LCD TVs. The problem is highlighted when viewing in a darkened room and while the L37D25 doesn't entirely fail to deliver a precise rendition of darker scenes, there are a number of LCD TVs out there that are more accomplished in this respect.
In our opinion, doubts still remain as to the effectiveness of Edge mounted LED backlighting, principally its ability to deliver rich deep and consistent black levels. While the visual aspect of a reduced screen depth is undoubtedly very appealing, the fact that some traditional CCFL LCD TVs are delivering black levels that match and even better their LED counterparts should be a cause for concern.
Possibly the most pleasing aspect of the L37D25's performance is the way it delivers on screen colours.
Straight out of the box, without any tweaking, the D25 delivered one of the most 'natural' colour spectrums we have seen from any LCD TV. Those scenes which require a subtle blend of a myriad of colours are always delivered with the composure that very few TVs can match.
What the Panasonic also manages to do well is deliver pictures that require a certain amount of vibrancy with a subtlety which results in a colour rendition that never becomes 'garish'.
The only slight disappointment with this aspect of the L37D25's performance is that tweaking the screen's colour system didn't realise a significant improvement in colours.
Standard Definition Picture
Perhaps the most significant improvement we have witnessed over the outgoing 2009 Panasonic LCD TV range is how their latest models handle Standard Definition. In particular, the D25's ability to convert the 576 or so lines of a Freeview signal onto a Full HD resolution screen demonstrates just how far Panasonic have come in a relatively short space of time.
Place the L37D25 alongside one of last year's Panasonic LCD TVs and you would hardly believe that you were looking at two TVs from the same manufacturer.
While 2009 Panasonic LCD's looked blurred, the L37D25 pick up and presents every last nuance of detail from its video signal, creating one of the sharpest Standard Definition pictures around.
Background 'noise' has not been entirely eliminated, but now you have to look close in most circumastances to notice any interference.
High Definition Picture
The quality of High Definition pictures came as no surprise in that we were expecting a predictably high level of performance in this area.
Panasonic do HD as well as any other manufacturer with a level of detail, sharpness and colour fidelity that only the best manufacturers can match. When it comes to High Definition pictures, the margins of difference in quality across manufacturers are less but the L37D25 still manages to present HD with that noticeable extra little bit of clarity.
While HD pictures from Freesat and Freeview were pretty good they were not a match for a Blu-ray disc. This is down to the respective compression rates being used by the Freesat and Freeview service rather than any inherent problem with the TV.
The L37D25 pretty much delivers a motion resolution performance on par with the majority of modern LCD TVs. The performance is good rather than outstanding.
Intelligent Frame Creation mode gives you the ability to control how the TV interpolates extra frames of data for enhanced resolution. Anything other than 'high' produced results that were a reasonable compromise between smoothness and the appearance of undesirable electronically generated 'artefacts'.
This is not the best TV we have come across when you consider its ability to display fast on screen action, but it does a reasonable job of smoothing things out without too much interference.
As with the majority of flat panel TVs, the L37D25 delivers a competent if underwhelming acoustic performance.
The main problem is a lack of low end 'bass' which you will experience with virtually every other flat panel TV you come across. Sound is perfectly adequate in all scenarios.
The TX-L37D25 is quite an accomplishment for Panasonic in that it represents a vast improvement over last year's equivalent.
The big problem for Panasonic is that other manufacturers have moved on a pace and from a higher starting point.
The Panasonic performs well in every area and while it can't quite match the best LCD TVs, its not far of the pace. With the benefit of Freesat and Freeview HD tuners and if you can get a good price, still worth considering.
Recording function available only on a limited range of hard drives