Panasonic has a proven pedigree when it comes to flatscreen TVs and, not for the first time, it's gone its own way where the fundamentals are concerned with the TH-37PX70. In a 37in class-size otherwise dominated by LCD designs, the Japanese manufacturer has gone maverick and chosen plasma technology instead.
Once you've caught this curveball, first impressions of the screen are good. The TH-37PX70 is a good-looking set, the screen is well made with a sturdy pedestal stand and – more importantly – it's easy to use.
Getting up and running is a breeze thanks to the sensible set-up menus. Likewise, thought has clearly gone into the design of the remote control as well – it's not the slinkiest we've seen, but the logical layout is appreciated.
Panasonic certainly knows how to deliver a decent off-air TV picture. While many rivals have mediocre tuners, the 37PX70 offers Freeview TV images that are stable, clean and detailed. Black tones are lustrously deep, despite a slight suggestion of warmth and softness in the picture.
Send in a 1080p image – the Panasonic downscales to 720p with no alarms – and the screen's case becomes even stronger. The modest resolution might suggest modest results, but this TV is endlessly watchable.
With action flicks like Casino Royale you get vibrant, natural colours, clean whites, smooth edges and a grippy motion. And although there are screens out there that can offer a little more out-and-out detail, none can match Panasonic's instinctive way with contrast, motion and depth of field.
For all its obvious mastery of plasma technology, the set can't muster anything beyond the ordinary when it comes to sound. It fights shy of some rivals' cabinet-rattling, but movie soundtracks are lightweight, hard-edged and reedy – disappointing given the set's prowess in other areas.
The Panasonic TH-37PX70 proves that LCD shouldn't be the only choice in the 37in flatscreen bracket. It may not have the most exciting CV, but in action it's highly compelling.