We needed a compact TV to use for occasional TV/video watching and mostly for listening to news. In a sense, it is going to be used like a radio with pictures as an added benefit.
Originally, I was
going to get a full-fledged 42-inch plasma TV and ordered Panasonic
TC-P42X3, but it was not available for delivery until a month later, so I
canceled it and got the simpler and smaller Panasonic Viera TC-L42C3.
This 32-inch TV was chosen for its relatively compact size and weight (remember the days when 27-inch TVs were commonplace main TV?), low power consumption, available PC (D-Sub) input and prior experience wit Panasonic TVs, including my mom’s 42-inch 720p plasma Panasonic TH-42PX80U and the 50-inch 1080p Panasonic TH-50PZ800U.
My other point of comparison is the Hitachi P50H401 50-inch plasma TV that I used to have.
The Panasonic Viera TC-L42C3 is a 32-inch LCD HDTV with 720p resolution
(sort-of, more on it later). It features 2 HDMI inputs a component and a
composite input, a PC (D-Sub, a.k.a. VGA) input, an analog stereo audio
input (RCA jacks), an SD card slot for viewing pictures on its side and
an antenna jack. It also has an optical digital audio out.
screen has a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9, 3D Y/C Digital Comb
Filter, MPEG noise reduction and a built-in analog/digital HD tuner. It
also has a Game Mode, Cinema Mode, Standard, Vivid and Custom modes and
features anti-reflective coating to reduce unwanted light reflections.
The TV weighs close to 20 lbs. It has 2 built-in speakers. The TV also
features VIERA Link, which allows you operate other compatible Panasonic
devices connected to it via HDMI using one remote, at least in theory.
The screen has a 1366x768 resolution and uses IPS technology, resulting
in wide (for LCD) viewing angle, fast response time but relatively low
The TV comes with a stand that requires minimal assembly. Still, you have to use the 8 supplied bolts and I wonder if the process could have been easier. The TV has a generic appearance, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Thus far, I used the TV with off the air programming, as well as with the Philips DVP5990 upconverting DVD player, Insignia NS-WBRDVD Blu-ray Player and Pioneer Elite DV-48AV Universal Upconverting DVD Player feed through the Panasonic SA-XR57 7.1-Channel Digital Receiver. The players were connected to the TV using its HDMI input (through the receiver).
I also briefly tried the TV's component video connections (the image quality was almost as good, but slightly softer).
Unlike some other HDTVs (namely the Hitachi), the switching between
channels (as well as menu operations) are rather fast. When switching
channels, the sound appears within one second and image within two. The
menus appear almost instantaneously. My Hitachi was almost infuriatingly
slow in this regard, especially after using my mom’s Panasonic.
The powering on takes about 10 seconds though. I think even the Hitachi took less.
The menus are intuitive and the setup was easy. In fact, after powering
on for the first time, the TV offered me to select the menu language
and scan for channels. After channel scan, you can select/deselect
channels that will be stored or skipped.
The remote control is
relatively intuitive with large buttons for primary functions. The
buttons are not backlit, but the layout is intuitive and most buttons
have great tactile response., with the exception of larger buttons that
are a bit too hard to press (they require more effort than should).
remote control works well even if you point it at the TV from the side,
unlike most remotes that require you to be in front of the TV.
mom's Panasonic has a feature that makes her TV better than the
Hitachi: you don't have to enter the entire channel number, e.g. 4-4. If
you hit 4 and Select and the TV goes to the first channel that is not
unselected while setting the channels up. For some reason this LCD TV
from the same company (Panasonic) doesn't. So to get to 4-1, I cannot
simply hit 4 and then select. Perhaps for this to work, I would have to
select "digital only" in the channel settings, but I have cable that has
a lot of analog channels so that wouldn't work either.
Out of the box, the TV produced somewhat dull picture. It has a Cinema
mode, which produced smooth, film-like appearance while using 25% of
backlight power. Still, the contrast was unimpressive. I found
recommended calibrations online and using the “Custom” picture settings
was able to arrive at settings that were reasonable, albeit still
lacking in contrast. It required, among other things, to set the
backlight to 100% power. Even after the calibration, the image is not
better than ok.
To reiterate, the contrast level is lacking.
This is one of the “features” of the IPS technology. As a result, the
black areas look like very dark grey, although the white areas are
pretty bright, at least for our dimly-lit room.
were disappointing as well. They just don’t seem to be very true to
life, which probably has to do with lack of contrast. Also, since the
panel used in the TV has a computer-like 1366 x 768 resolution, no HDTV
resolution can be displayed pixel-per-pixel. Not even 720p (even the TV
claims to be 720p). So signal of any resolution needs to be scaled to
fit the panel’s native resolution, resulting in overscan and artifacts.
The TV has a good tuner though. And there are other positives as well.
The IPS technology produces low contrast ratio, but at the same time
results in very wide viewing angle (Panasonic rates it at 178 degrees),
at least horizontally. It also results in fast response time, so even
though this TV uses 60 Hz refresh rate, don’t compare it to 60 Hz LCD
TVs that use TN panels. This TV has no issues whatsoever with fast
motion and will be good for watching sports.
anti-reflective coating on this TV is average. There are reflections
visible if there is a strong source of light, which is a non-issue for
The standard-def programming is slightly fuzzy after watching high-def, but it is not something I would be concerned about.
Resolutions: The TV can display material at resolutions of up to 1080p
(including 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i). Standard-definition signal looks
slightly soft comparing to high-definition signal, but resolution is
Light SensorThe TV's front panel
has a light sensor that allows you (if the CATS setting is enabled in
the menu) to have TV compensate for the lighting conditions in the room
automatically. It works too well. If you cover the sensor with your
hand, the brightness/contrast of the picture change within a couple of
seconds. The problem is they change too much. I found that (in Standard
mode) during the day the picture was too vivid and in dimmer light in
the evening it was too dull-looking. As a result, I am manually
switching between Cinema, Standard and Custom (calibrated) with CATS
The TV has 2 speakers, which are
definitely adequate for watching news or sports, but I would suggest
using a dedicated 5.1 or 7.1 speaker setup with a good receiver for
movies and music shows. But then I would also suggest a better TV.
Although the TV has a label with an impressive $9 annual power
consumption (assuming 5 hours of operation a day), it is only the case
if you use the TV in the power-saving factory settings. If you actually
set it to recommended calibrated settings (including 100% backlight
power level), the power consumption increases, so it can conceivably
double. As such, it is probably no better than most other LCD TVs of
this size and probably worse than that of TN panels. But it is pretty
good nonetheless. And I found that I actually prefer Cinema mode, which
only uses 25% backlight power, so the power consumption should be good.
The remote control is sturdy, has an intuitive button layout and doesn’t have to be pointed directly at the TV to work.
The TV has a VGA input and supports numerous computer resolutions, with
the native resolution of 1366x768. The sound has to come through the 2
RCA jacks, so you will need a 3.5 mm to RCA stereo cable.
The TV has an SD card slot in its side, but the only thing you can do
with the card is look at pictures and even that is painfully slow at
larger resolutions. It takes up to 8 seconds to load an image.
If you have a sound system, you can get the sound from the TV to it
(e.g. for cable or off-the-air programming) from either its optical
digital output (TV’s back panel) or the HDMI 1 jack (the receiver has to
be at least of Viera Link version 5).
I bought the L32C3 for $300.
Pros: Price, wide viewing angle, good fast motion, easy to use, good remote control, PC input.
Cons: Low contrast, unnatural colors, useless SD card slot, native resolution that matches no HDTV format.
If you need a secondary TV or simply a TV for watching news, cartoons,
sports or playing computer games, this TV will provide good viewing
angle, fast response time for smooth motion, decent sound and good
remote, all at a reasonable price with low power consumption.
But if you are planning on mostly watching movies, operate the TV in a
brightly-lit room or otherwise demand excellent picture quality and
contrast, I do not recommend this TV. You will have to spend more money
and get a better TV.