The first of Panasonic's 2011 HDTVs have arrived, many of which are lower-priced entry-level models. This year's line of LED-based LCDs will have five series, including the entry-level E3 Series. This series offers screen sizes of 42, 37, and 32 inches (Panasonic does not sell LCDs with screen sizes larger than 42 inches). We have not performed a hands-on review of the TC-L37E3, but here is an overview of its features. This 37-inch, 1080p LCD is a 2D-only display that uses edge LED lighting, which allows for a slim profile of 1.7 inches.
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• Look for some low-profile on-wall speakers to complement the TC-L37E3 LED HDTV.
The TC-L37E3 has a 60Hz refresh rate; it does not have the Motion Picture Pro 4 120Hz technology found in the 42-inch E3 model. The IPS (In-Plane Switching) Alpha panel changes the orientation of the liquid crystals to allow for a wider viewing angle; Panasonic claims that this year's IPS Alpha panel has been improved to allow better contrast at wider angles while using less power. The TC-L37E3 is wireless-ready, with the addition of an optional USB adapter. This TV does not have the full VIERA Connect Web platform that will appear on many step-up 2011 models; instead, it has Panasonic's basic Web platform, dubbed Easy IPTV, that includes the six most popular services: Netflix, Amazon VOD, Napster, Pandora, CinemaNow, and Facebook. It can also receive streamed content from DLNA media servers.
The TC-L37E3's connection panel includes four HDMI inputs, with one on the side panel for easy access. You also get one component video input, one PC (D-sub 15-pin) input, and one RF input to access the internal ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners. Two USB ports and an SD card reader are available for media playback. The USB ports also support the addition of a keyboard and/or WiFi adapter; you can also use the back-panel Ethernet port for a wired network connection. The TC-L37E3 lacks a control port like RS-232 for integration into an advanced control system.
As an entry-level TV, the TC-L37E3 includes basic picture adjustments but lacks advanced options like precise white balance, gamma, and full color management. Picture settings include five picture modes (with a Game mode that improves response time for gaming content), three color-temperature presets, noise reduction, and a C.A.T.S. feature that automatically adjusts the backlight brightness based on ambient light (there's also a manual backlight control). As I mentioned above, this model does not include a 120Hz mode to reduce motion blur and film judder, nor does it offer the 24p Direct In mode found in higher-end Panasonic models, which lets you dictate whether to output 24p film content at 60 Hz (which involves 3:2 pulldown) or 48 Hz (which involves 2:2 pulldown and produces less judder). The TV has five aspect-ratio options, and you can configure it to display a 1080i/1080p image with no overscan.
The audio setup menu includes bass, treble, and balance controls, as well as a basic surround mode, an A.I Sound function that equalizes volume level across all channels and inputs, and a volume leveler that deals specifically with the external inputs.
The ECO menu includes a power-saving function that automatically reduces the backlight brightness, as well as options to turn off the TV when no signal is present or no activity occurs for a designated time period.
Read about the high points and the low points of the TC-L37E3 on Page 2.