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Panasonic TX-L42E3B review

Panasonic fails to keep up with the budget TV Joneses on features

Our Verdict

For

  • Easy on the eye
  • Delivers video-friendly colour balance straight out of the box

Against

  • HD images look soft
  • Pricey considering lack of features

Panasonic has got more serious about LCD technology this year than ever before, having shifted over to edge LED lighting. But it's also introduced a couple of 42-inch models that have the potential to threaten its own plasma market, which also start at 42-inches.

Can the Panasonic TX-L42E3B LCD TV come close to the impressive standards set by its plasma siblings?

There's nothing very original about it aesthetically, but its slender bezel and glossy finish are a step up from the brand's former affordable LCDs. Its connections are a bit of a downer, though; it only has three HDMIs when some rivals at this price level manage four.

But worse is its limited multimedia support. There's no USB port, and the provided LAN port is merely there to support a built-in Freeview HD tuner; it doesn't enable access to Panasonic's Viera Connect service or file streaming from a networked DLNA PC.

Redeeming feature

Thankfully, the L42E3B is saved from being a total multimedia washout by an SD card slot that enables you to play JPEG stills, video files or MP3s.

As it's a reasonably expensive TV, the L42E3B's lack of multimedia prowess leaves us looking to its other features and picture quality to justify its relative expense. But it doesn't do anything special in either department.

The onscreen menus, while prettier than last year's vintage, offer only one notable discovery in the form of a Resolution Enhancer you can use to improve the clarity and detail of standard-definition sources.

The screen itself is a straightforward 50Hz affair, with no significant motion processing around to reduce blur and/or judder. Surprisingly, the L42E3B doesn't benefit from Panasonic's IPS Alpha panel design, with its potentially wider viewing angles, either, even though other models in the series do!

Despite its startlingly basic specification, the L42E3B is a solid performer. One thing that stands out right away is the evenness of its backlight output, which presents dark scenes with precious little evidence of the clouding effect that upsets so many edge LED TVs. Black levels are comfortably deeper than those of the LG 42LV450U.

I also appreciated the L42E3B's approach to colours; the rather warm look to tones initially looks a bit strange, but grows on you over time, until eventually it feels more natural than the harsher palettes usually offered by most sets.

The L42E3B isn't without its problems, though. For instance, while black levels look deep, they lack shadow detail. Troubling, too, is a lack of sharpness when watching HD compared with the other TVs featured here.

Some of this is due to motion blur, and there's also more video noise than I would expect. The absent IPS Alpha panel means the L42E3B can't be comfortably watched from as wide an angle as many Panasonic LCD TVs too.

I can at least finish my tests on a high note – the L42E3B's audio is slightly richer and clearer than usual by edge LED TV standards. But I'm not sure that's enough to raise it above being merely average.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeLED-LCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-T (MPEG4)
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports3
Number of SCART Interfaces1
Product FamilyViera E3
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size106.7 cm (42")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle178°
Vertical Viewing Angle178°
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH
Memory Card ReaderYes
EthernetYes
Analog TunerPAL
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)17.50 kg
Backlight TechnologyEdge LED
Operating Power Consumption109 W
Standby Power Consumption250 mW
RMS Output Power20 W
Electronic Program GuideYes
VGAYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand646 mm
Width with Stand1002 mm
Depth with Stand288 mm
CI+Yes
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
SCARTYes
Media PlayerYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD)
Height611 mm
Width1002 mm
Depth75 mm
Sound SystemVirtual Surround, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS
Product SeriesE3
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesPicture and Text (PAT), Child Lock, Teletext
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelTX-L42E3B
Product NameViera TX-L42E3B LED-LCD TV
Product LineViera
Manufacturer Part NumberTXL42E3B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

The IPS panel, which is known for its wide viewing angle and excellent light transmittance, is now further enhanced with a bright, energy-saving LED backlight. Images do not fade when viewed from an angle, and a uniformly high-speed response across the entire range ensures crisp moving images with minimal afterglow. The IPS LED LCD offers superb contrast and also contributes to the display's slim design.

SpeakersYes
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)14 kg