Panasonic Viera TC-L32XM6 LED TV Review
Little screen, big big picture
Behind the Screens
The Panasonic Viera TC-L32XM6 may be a budget box by design, but it provides very palatable picture quality for the price ($350). Time in the lab revealed scientifically sound color production, impressively smooth motion, and a large-enough contrast ratio to please your eyes with realistic, immersive levels of light. The only drawback we found here, in terms of core performance, was the TV's horizontal viewing angle.
Decently dark, brilliantly bright
A display's contrast ratio is determined by dividing its peak white by its darkest black level. Contrast ratio is a severely important factor when considering a TV's overall picture quality. Despite its entry-level nature, the small-screened L32XM6 sports a robust contrast ratio.
Using the Konica Minolta LS-100 luminance meter, we measured a black level of 0.068 cd/m2 at 20% APL (Average Picture Level). This is a decent result for an edge-lit LED LCD. The XM6's white level peaked at a solid 254 cd/m2, which is amply bright for any normal viewing conditions—the L32XM6's resulting contrast ratio of 3735:1 is commendable.
Not flawless—but darn good for an entry-level TV
When we test a TV's color integrity, we're looking for three things: adherence to the Rec. 709 HDTV standard; vigilance to a single correlated color temperature across the grayscale; and evenly leveled color and grayscale curves. While the XM6 didn't test perfectly in any one category, all of its color results were well within acceptable limits of error.
First, the XM6's color gamut—a visual representation of all the colors it can render—was very close to the international ideal. Using the Konica Minolta CS-200 chroma meter, we found that its peak white, red, and green points are almost perfect. Successful production of those primary colors promises that secondary colors, like yellow and cyan, will also be very accurate. Only blue—the color we have the most trouble seeing—was oversaturated, and may appear a little too rich when mixed with other colors on screen.
As for color temperature, the XM6 required basic calibration for optimal results. This involved turning down its Contrast setting to eliminate the "red push" that occurs in the upper shades of the grayscale when contrast is set too high on a display. After that, we found its correlated color temperature maintained a consistent 6750K–6800K, quite close to the 6500K ideal. There were only a couple of visible errors here, and they're not likely to ruin the overall picture.
Finally, our test for color and grayscale gamma—where we read 256 steps each of the grayscale, red, green, and blue—came back positive. The XM6's grayscale gamma, in particular, proved very even and smooth, allocating luminance properly from black to white. Next best was the next most-important: green, which followed the grayscale's gamma closely, but stayed within lower levels of luminance (as it should). Blue and red were less ideal, transitioning between some neighboring hues with a bit of clumsiness. Overall, though, the results were commendable—no obscured details or color-banding here.
Go solo, or it's a no go fo' sho'
A horizontal viewing angle can make or break a TV. While it's a more important requirement for large, theater-bound TVs to have a wide viewing angle, too narrow an angle on any display can cause contrast degradation or color shifting during off-angle viewing, which can ruin even a high-quality picture.
Unfortunately, like most LCDs the XM6 does not sport the most generous viewing angle. We measured a total viewing angle of 25°, or ±12.5° from the center of the screen to either side. This is a stingy amount of viewing, meaning the XM6 is going to look its best only during head-on viewing.
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