Pana­sonic TX-32DS500B

FOR Good con­trast; de­cent def­i­ni­tion; easy to use AGAINST Blacks could go deeper; lim­ited con­nec­tiv­ity

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Here at What Hi-fi? we’ve be­come ac­cus­tomed to test­ing the lat­est Ul­tra HD 4K TVS, so the ar­rival of an old-fash­ioned HD Ready TV with 32in screen comes as a bit of a shock to the sys­tem. With the £500 TX40DX600B, Pana­sonic has shown it can com­bine a 4K pic­ture with an af­ford­able price tag, but it’s heart­en­ing to dis­cover the com­pany seems to put just as much ef­fort into its ba­sic, smaller screens.

Pana­sonic’s TX32DS500B doesn’t im­press on pa­per: it’s a 32in screen, has an HD Ready res­o­lu­tion (it will ac­cept 1080p videos, but won’t dis­play them na­tively) and costs just £300. But it’s a sur­pris­ingly like­able, easy-to-use TV with a com­pelling pic­ture. It even has Net­flix and all the catch-up TV apps.

Dark shad­owy cor­ners

But first, let’s get the big­gest is­sue with the Pana­sonic out of the way: the blacks don’t go deep and aren’t sub­tle enough. That is a prob­lem when you’re watch­ing a TV show or Blu-ray film with a lot of dark scenes – The Dark Knight Rises, for in­stance – as you lose a lot of de­tail and don’t get that ex­cit­ing, punchy con­trast.

The lapels of dark suits, the finer de­tail in strands of hair, tex­tures of me­tal or wood – they all tend to blend into the back­ground in dark or shad­owy cor­ners. Bright colours, such as the yel­low prison jump­suits in Guardians Of The Galaxy, don’t get the chance to pop as much with­out solid blacks sur­round­ing them.

Things im­prove in brighter or day­light scenes, where the con­trast is a lot more bal­anced and shows off the screen’s tal­ents. Ob­jects look a lot more solid out­doors, and you can see just how nicely bal­anced the colour pal­ette is.

We would nor­mally brace our­selves for a dip in qual­ity when watch­ing stan­dard def­i­ni­tion on a Full HD or 4K screen, but the HD Ready res­o­lu­tion works in the 32DS500B’S favour: the pic­ture re­mains clear and sta­ble, with plenty of de­tail when watch­ing Masterchef on BBC iplayer or Friends re­peats on non-hd chan­nels.

Ri­val Sony KDL32WD603 (also £300) is more dis­cern­ing, and has a bet­ter grasp on its con­trast – its blacks go sat­is­fy­ingly deep while also dis­play­ing plenty of shadow de­tail.

The Pana­sonic sounds good (which could be down to its chunky build), un­like the tinny sound we en­counter from slim flatscreens. De­cent weight and no hint of sharp­ness means it’s com­fort­able to lis­ten to for long pe­ri­ods. Di­a­logue is heard above sound ef­fects, and we don’t find our­selves im­me­di­ately think­ing about hook­ing up a sound­bar.

Colour­ful in­ter­face

Un­like the TVS higher up Pana­sonic’s 2016 range, the TX32DS500B doesn’t come with the colour­ful Fire­fox OS in­ter­face we’re so fond of. In­stead, it has My Home Screen – mul­ti­ple screens you can cus­tomise to a spe­cific theme or per­son in the house­hold.

It might not be as el­e­gant and slick as Fire­fox, but it’s handy for hav­ing your favourite apps and pro­gramme guide within easy reach. Along with Net­flix and Ama­zon video apps, you get all of UK’S catch-up TV apps (BBC iplayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and De­mand 5), some­thing that its Sony and LG ri­vals don’t have. The built-in wi-fi works fine for iplayer streams, but we’d use the wired eth­er­net port for the most sta­ble con­nec­tion.

Con­nec­tiv­ity is rather sparse on the TX32DS500B: two HDMI in­puts and one USB port – not enough if you want to keep your Blu-ray player, Sky box and games con­sole plugged in at all times.

A cou­ple of ana­logue in­puts, a dig­i­tal op­ti­cal out­put for adding a sound­bar (if you wish) and the Free­view HD tuner are the only other con­nec­tions.

The set it­self is light but never feels flimsy. The build qual­ity is de­cent, and a sim­ple but sta­ble stand that’s easy to screw in makes the Pana­sonic a fine choice if you’re after a smaller TV for your bed­room or kitchen.

All of which means, then, that you get a fair amount for your £300.

The TX32DS500B’S ri­val, the Sony KDL32WD603, of­fers a sub­tler, more nat­u­ral and ex­cit­ing pic­ture, but if you can live with the not-so-deep-or-sub­tle blacks that the Pana­sonic of­fers, this TV’S lik­able pic­ture and im­pres­sively use­ful in­ter­face make it well worth con­sid­er­ing as your sec­ond-room set.

You get a lot for £300 with this Pana­sonic 32in TV. It’s a like­able pic­ture, even if blacks could go a bit deeper

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