From the front the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 is, of course, dominated by its 37-inch LCD display. The bezel is a glossy black with nicely tapered edges. Below the display is the Panasonic logo, while the Viera logo sits above and to the left. At the bottom right is the power indicator and infrared receiver.
The back of the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 is where you will find most of the televisions ports, grouped together towards the left.
There are no features on the left side of the Panasonic TC-37LZ85.
On the right side of the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 you will find the on-tv controls, a small grouping of ports and a door that opens to reveal an SD card slot.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's stand is glossy black and angled towards the front. It does not rotate. You can mount the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 on a wall, but will need a separate mounting bracket to do this.
On the right side you find the on-tv controls located just above the middle of the side. From top to bottom they are power, channel up and down, volume up and down, TV/Vido and Demo.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's remote is similar to Panasonic remotes we've seen in other reviews. It's relatively small and fits comfortably into your hand.
**In The Box***(4.0)*
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 ships with a remote, batteries for the remote and a cleaning cloth. We're a bit dissapointed that there is no HDMI cord.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 has simple and understated good looks. We like that there's a universal glossy finish on the bezel and stand from the front without any other textures to detract from it.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's performance could generally be described as average to slightly below average. There were a couple of things that impressed us, we liked how well the blacks and whites held up on the display and the viewing angle was excellent. Unfortunately there were also several places where the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's performance was unimpressive. The way it shifts from black to white along the gamma curve was erratic, especially with darker colors. The color gamut was off and black level was not very dark.
Out of the box you're not going to get the best picture you can out of your HDTV, and the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 is no differnt. In order to get the best quality picture we calibrate the HDTVs we review before we do any testing on them. We use Displaymate for calibration, the same professional software that many television manufacturers use. If you want you can hire someone to come to your home and calibrate the Panasonic TC-37LZ85, or you can just adjust the settings based on our calibration settings below.
As with all HDTVs the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 offers a variety of video modes. Below is a list of the available modes and what the manual tells us they are for. We recommend that you use our calibrated setting above instead.
As an LCD HDTV the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's picture is made up of millions of pixels. Each pixel is actually made up of three LED lights, one red, one green and one blue. To the right you can see the pattern of these LED's that we saw using a 20x microscope. We didn't notice any particular problems with fixed or 'dead' pixels on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85.
How deep a televisions blacks are displayed is an important consideration, you don't want what us is supposed to be black on the screen to look washed out or grey. We measured the deepest black on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 using our calibrated settings at 0.39 candelas per meter squared (cd/m2). This is rather mediocre performance, even for an LCD television, whose blacks tend to not be as deep as plasma televisions. We've seen significantly deeper blacks from other LCD HDTVs like the [Samsung LN32A450](https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/content/Samsung-LN32A450-LCD-HDTV-Review-695.htm) (0.14 cd/m2) and the [JVC LT-32P679](https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/content/JVC-LT-32P679-LCD-HDTV-Review-684.htm) (0.12 cd/m2), amongst others. We would have much preferred to see some deeper blacks on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85.
In this test we look at the brightest white on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 using our calibrated settings. We measured this peak brightness at 393.78 cd/m2. This is a very good score, in fact it's amongst the best we've seen from any HDTV, only the [Sharp Aquos LC-46D64U](https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/content/Sharp-Aquos-LC-46D64U-LCD-HDTV-Review-606.htm) has put up a similar peak brightness while the [Samsung LN46A750](https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/content/Samsung-LN46A750-LCD-HDTV-Review-596.htm) is the only HDTV we've seen that beats it handily. Users should be very happy with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's peak brightness.
Contrast is the ratio between the brightest white and darkest black. If you want to do a little bit of math you can figure this out on your own with our previous two scores. If you don't feel like pulling out a calculator we'll just tell you that the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's contrast ratio was 1:1010. This is an unimpressive contrast ratio, but not the worst we've ever seen either. For example both the [Vizio VO47L](https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/content/Vizio-VO47L-LCD-HDTV-Review-598.htm) and the [JVC Procision LT-47X899](https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/content/JVC-LT-47X899-LCD-HDTV-Review-551.htm) performed significantly worse. Most HDTVs do better, however. In the case of the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 the big stumbling block for the contrast ratio is obviously the poor black level.
We're not only interested in how dark the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 gets, but also want to know how well the deepest blacks hold up when paired with bright whites. That is what we look at in this test as we measure the black level while steadily increasing the amount of white on the screen. Below you can see a graph of what happens to the black level as we do this.
You can see from the relatively flat line that the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 does a solid job here. The change in black level is minimal, going from 0.39 to 0.47 as we add more and more white to the scene. What this means for viewers is that you're going to get stable blacks regardless of what other colors are in a scene. Now if only that black could have started a bit lower...
This test is the opposite of the tunnel contrast test, here we look at how well the brightest white holds up as we increase the amount of black on the screen. Below is a graph of white falloff for the Panasonic TC-37LZ85.
You can see that although there are a couple of bumps in the graph there are no major shifts that would indicate serious variation. In fact the peak brightness varied by less than 1% between the 100% white screen and the 5% white screen, indicating that the peak brightness holds up very well.
Here we look at how uniformly the display is able to reproduce blacks and whites. With the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 we noticed some significant problems, particularly with blacks. An all white screen showed some common issues such as a bit of dimming at the corners and edges, things we see on many HDTVs. When looking at a black screen on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85, however, we saw significant blotches in the middle of the display and much more leakage than we would have liked, especially along the bottom edge.
Update: We have rescaled our scoring for this section. The original score was 0.0.
In this test we look at how smoothly the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 makes adjustments from white to black, known as the gamma curve. Below you can see the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's curve displayed.
This curve is relatively smooth, but it hides some problems. The human eye doesn't actually pick up gradual changes, instead it picks up exponential changes in gamma, which we graph in the curve below.
Here you can see that the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 had some significant problems, especially as it made transitions across darker greys. These problems were serious enough that the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 failed our test, receiving a score of zero. It should be noted, however, that the major problems are concentrated amongst variation in the darker greys and most of the transitions the HDTV makes are much smoother.
Video content comes in a dizzying array of resolutions. The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 is a 1080p television, which means it natively displays content at that resolution. It will have to deal with other resolutions, however, and that is what we look at below.
480p content is what you get from traditional standard definition television broadcasts and DVDs. The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 did a decent job with 480p content, however we did note that it had problems with overscanning. What this means is that you will lose as much as 5% of the content both vertically and horiztonally on the display.
At this level we are starting to get into the base of what is known as HD content. 720p is used for a lot of online HD video and many over the air sports broadcasts are also in this format. We saw solid performance with legibility and resolution with this format, but once again we noted that overscanning is a problem with up to 5% of the display being cut off vertically and horizontally.
The difference between 1080i and 1080p is in how the signal is displayed on the HDTV. With a 1080i signal you alternate between two signals of 540 lines each, the first signal gives you the odd lines and the second the even. 1080p signals give you all 1080 lines at once. Because less information is transmitted at one time with 1080i it is often the signal used by broadcast HD. Thankfully the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 did a very good job with 1080i signals, it avoided many of the pitfalls we've seen on other HDTVs with 1080i, including a shutter effect in high contrast areas. We were very happy with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's handling of 1080i content.
Any HDTV needs to display an array of whites from bright white to dark greys. In this test we look at how stable those whites are in terms of color temperature. Ideally we want the color temperature to stay around 6500 kelvin across the range. If the temperature rises too high you get a bluish cast and if it falls too low you get reddish casts. Below is a chart showing the color temperature of whites on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 across the greyscale.
You can see that across most whites the color temperature stays pretty stable, but especially as you get into the darker greys the color temperature skyrockets. It's not uncommon to see this happen with darker greys, but the effect is significantly more pronounced with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 than we've seen on other HDTVs. In order to see how significant this problem is we also want to know whether the humany eye can actually make out the changes in color temperature.
That's what we look at in the graph above. Here you see the color coordinates of each white graphed onto a color space. The red line indicates the point the range within which the human eye can't tell the difference. Thankfully the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's whites almost all fall within this circle, as we would expect as we saw only a small amount of deviation across most whites. Those that fall outside the circle, however, are pretty far out there. What this means in practice is that the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 will display a strong bluish cast as you start getting into darker greys, much more pronounced thant we've seen on other HDTVs. It's this that produces the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's rather mediocre score in this test.
All colors you see on your HDTV are produced by combining three basic colors: red, blue and green. Each pixel on the screen is actually made up of these three colors. As such the accuracy with which the HDTV can reproduce these colors is critical in producing accurate colors overall. Below you can see each of the three colors graphed across all intensities for the Panasonic TC-37LZ85.
Ideally we would like to see smooth and slightly concave curves for all three. You can see that although green and blue do a decent job with this the reds show a noticeable hump across the mid range of intensities. We could see the effect of this innacuracy when we looked at a scene with a lot of reds and noted that we lost a lot of detail in these mid tones.
The other thing we look for is peaking. Some HDTVs stop being able to reproduce actual differences in colors as you get to higher intensities. You can see this on their graphs as a plateau at the end of the curve. You can see from the curves above that this isn't a major problem with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85. Overall the issue with accuracy in the reds does drop the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's overall score a bit, but it's not the worst we've ever seen.
All HDTVs are supposed to reproduce colors in the exact same way, using an international standard color gamut known as ITU Recommendation .709. This ensures that content producers can be sure that the colors they want reproduced on the screen will be reproduced accurately across all displays. Below you can see the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's color gamut graphed against this standard.
You can see that the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 has some significant problems, especially in the reds, but even greens and blues are slightly off. What this means in practice is that some colors on the display won't come through in the way that the original producer wanted them to be seen. The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's performance in this test is actually about average, which says more about the generally unimpressive color gamut performance amongst HDTVs than it does anything good about the Panasonic TC-37LZ85. Below you can see a table with the exact color coordinates and error for each of the points of the color gamut triangle as well as the white point (D65).
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 did not impress us with its handling of motion. In particular we noted that the HDTV would produce some cartoonish effects on faces in motion, some obvious jittering with blocks of colors and a sutter effect when dealing with high contrast areas. This last is especially obvious when dealing with 1080i content. The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 lacks some high end features like 120Hz refresh so its less than impressive handling of motion is not entirely a surprise.
Artifacts in motion are ghostly images that can appear when there should not be anything there. The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 did show some problems with artifacting, in particular we noted some significant banding when large blocks of white were in motion and some smearing effect with blocks of color.
()**3:2 Pulldown & 24fps***(6.5)*(https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/content/How-We-Test.htm#3:2pulldown)
Material produced to look like film is generally produced at a different framerate than television content. In order to convert this to look 'right' on your HDTV a process known as 3:2 pulldown or telecine is used. With the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 we noted that it generally did a decent job with such content, but there were a couple of small issues. We noted some glitches in a test pattern specifically ment to look for such problems, but they were not serious enough to bother you when watching normal content like a movie. What is slightly more obvious is a slight amount of jagged edges with complex patterns that are converted using 3:2 pulldown. Some content is also encoded specifically to be played back at 24 frames per second. Not all HDTVs can handle this content, but the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 can.
Although you may get a great viewing experience from an HDTV when sitting direclty in front of it you'll notice that as you increase the angle of your view the picture on the screen undergoes some changes. In this test we look at how well the HDTV holds up at wider angles. First we look at the contrast ratio across 90 degrees, which is graphed below.
The red line indicates the point at which the contrast ratio fell below 50%. The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's performance in this test was exemplerary, it was able to hold 50% contrast ratio out to 68 degrees from center, for a total viewing range of 136 degrees. This is almost twice the average viewing angle we've seen from other HDTVs. We also look at how well colors hold up as you vary your viewing angle, and we were quite happy to see that the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's colors hold up quite well, without the washed out or inverted colors you see on some other HDTVs. This makes the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 a solid choice for larger rooms where you may have people looking at the television from a wide range of angles.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's screen does reflect light quite a bit, we were able to make out a clear pattern with our LED light source. That said it also does a decent job of diffusing the light, and you really need to shiine the light direclty on the screen and then look at it at the exact same angle to find it exceptionally annoying. We found that while watching a movie you may have some trouble with dark scenes if the light is shining right on the screen, but otherwise it shouldn't be a major problem.
As with most HDTVs the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 offers a variety of different video processing options in the menu that are supposed to address certain problems. As is also the case with most HDTVs these options actually don't do much that is discernable. You can see below what we actually saw (hint: No change is popular), and you can see from the score above what our overall impression of these features are: just leave them off.
()**Ergonomics & Durability***(6.05)*
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's remote is pretty much identical to that we saw with the [Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ8OU](https://www.reviewed.com/televisions/content/Panasonic-TH-46PZ8OU-Plasma-HDTV-Review-595.htm), which is generally a good thing since we liked that remote a lot. It's not nearly as large as some other remotes that we've seen, which is nice as it means you don't have to constantly shift your hand up and down the remote to access all the controls. We also like the nicely contoured back and the easy balance we got with the remote. The buttons are soft plastic and are comfortable to press, with good key travel. We would have liked a bit more tactile feedback, however, as they feel a little bit squishy. It also feels well put together, although we are a bit concerned about the strength of the latch for the battery cover. Overall we were very happy with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 remote's ergonomics.
()**Button Layout & Use***(6.5)*
The buttons on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's remote are a bit crowded together, but this is made up for by the generally large buttons, you probably won't accidentally hit the wrong button. We also like the clear labeling on the remote, something that we appreciate given the sometimes arcane labeling we've seen on other remote controls. We found that with our hand at neutral we were easialy able to reach all the important controls like channel, volume and the directional pad without needing to shift our hands, and we have smaller hands. To change the channel directly we did need to shift down the remote to access the keypad, but since the remote isn't too large this wasn't much of a problem and even when holding it lower the balance was good. We were very happy with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's button layout and use.
()**Programming & Flexibility***(0.0)*
Perhaps the biggest negative about the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's remote is that you can't program it to use any other devices. Given that it is generally well designed we wish we could use it with other devices.
Audio quality on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 is generally good. Sounds were clear and we got a good range. Unlike some HDTV speakers we didn't notice any problems picking up detail in the sounds and conversation was clear even in loud scenes. We were quite happy with the audio quality from the Panasonic TC-37LZ85.
Like most modern HDTVs the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 offers a simulated surround sound mode. When we turned this feature on we noticed a little bit more depth to the sounds, but aside than that there was no major difference in sound quality. It certianly did not provide the same level of immersion we got when we set up an inexpensive surround sound system. If you want to significantly improve the audio experience with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 we recommend you invest in such a system. Even a cheap set of speakers will be better than the simulated surround sound.
To see how loud the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's speakers get we played back pink noise with the volume turned up to maximum. We measured the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's speakers at a volume of 80.2 decibels from a distance of five feet. This is at the quieter range of what we've seen for an HDTV but should still be quite loud enough to fill up even a large room with audio, although of course you will also get some degraded quality as the volume goes up. The lower volume is likely related to the fact that the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's speakers are on the back of the HDTV.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 has a reasonable selection of input ports, although it lacks some of the more advanced ports we see on more expensive HDTVs. There are three HDMI ports, two composite video, two component video, one S-Video and four analog audio inputs. There is also support for both analog and digital cable and over the air antennas. What's missing are things like VGA and DVI inputs, which can make it a bit more difficult to connect the HDTV to a computer.
As with most HDTVs the only output ports are one analog audio out and one digital audio out. Both are found on the back of the HDTV.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 does not support any wireless connectivity options like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 does have a memory card slot that can support SD cards, including high capacity SDHC cards. This can be used to playback photos from such cards on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85.
We liked the placement of the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's ports. Most of the ports are found on the back, but they are all found towards the left side, right around the right side of the HDTV when looking at it from the front. This makes it easier to simply reach around and access the ports if necessary, although we do wish there had been a swivel on the stand to make this a bit easier. There is also one HDMI port, a compositve video port and analog audio ports on the right side of the HDTV that are even easier to access when you just want to hook up a camcorder or other device temporarily. The right side is also where the SD card slot is found behind a plastic door towards the bottom.
**Ease of Use***(6.0)*
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's menu system is similar to what we've seen from other Panasonic HDTVs. The main menu gives you eight options, arranged across the left side of the screen. These are, from top to bottom: Viera Link, Picture, Audio, Timer, Lock, SD card, CC and Setup.
You navigate the menu using the directional pad on the remote, selecting one of the items and pressing in on the center select button will bring up the indicated menu, which replaces the main menu. To go back a level you either hit the menu button or use the dedicated Return button, which sits just below and to the right of the directional pad on the remote.
Overall we found the interface to be relatively simple, if lacking in any particular polish or flourishes that we've seen in other menu systems like those from Sony. We did find some of Panasonic's decisions to place items at the top level versus buried in the setup menu to be rather arbitrary. For example if you want to control power systems you will need to go into the Advanced Setup menu, not very intuitive.
The picture controls on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 offers a wide array of options that you can adjust. The first item allows you to select from several preset picture modes, including Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Game and Custom. Below this are standard options like Back light, Picture and Brightness. The menu is two pages long and if you move down into the second page you find some other options like Color Temperature as well as the option to open the Advanced Picture menu.
The Advanced Picture menu gives you access to six different options for controlling items like noise reduction, Black Level and screen Size. Most of these options are a bit arcane and will have you running for the manual to figure out what they do.
The audio menu on the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 is the third one down in the main menu. Opening it will give you four options: Bass, Treble, Balance and Advanced Audio.
Opening Advanced Audio gives you several more options, including the ability to turn the simulated surround sound on/off, Bass Boost and control Speaker output, as well as control HDMI audio settings. There is no equalizer available in the audio controls.
In addition to the picture and audio menus the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 has six other menu options available at the top level. These include the VIERA Link menu, which allows you to control other Panasonic equipment in your home theatre with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's remote.
The Timer menu allows you to set a timer, of course. The Lock menu gives you access to parental controls.
The SD card menu allows you to view photos stored on an SD card that is placed in the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's memor card slot. The Closed Captioning menu gives you access to Closed Captioning controls, again rather straightforward.
The Setup menu is where you'll find all the miscellaneous items that Panasonic either felt didn't deserve their own top-level interface or don't fit anywhere else. This includes Language, Clock and Program Channel, amongst others.
There's also an Advanced Setup menu that allow syou to manage power settings, but also has the option for playing an SD card automatically.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85's manual is the size a large magazine and has instructions in English, Spanish and French. It lacks an index and the table of contents is rather truncated, but we do like that there are lots of pictures and clearly labeled diagrams. We also like the colored tabs on the edge of the pages that tell you what section you are in. We've seen better designed manuals, but the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's manual isn't a total train wreck as we've seen from other manufacturers.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 natively supports the highest format of HD content, known as 1080p. What this means is that the resolution of the television has 1080 lines from top to bottom that are shown progressively. This is in contrast to the 1080i format, which also has 1080 lines, but alternates between showing 540 lines at a time. The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 does also support 1080i content, which is good as most HD broadcast content is in 1080i format. It also supports other lower resolution formats such as 720p and 480p.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 also supports content that has been produced to look like film, supporting by 3:2 pulldown and 24fps content. It does not support the wider color gamut that many new televisions support, known as xvYCC.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 is capable of playing back photos from a memory card that you place in the built-in SD/SDHC card reader. Photos are displayed in a simple grid on the screen, with navigation done with the remote control. There's not a lot fancy here, you can setup a slide show or view individual photos. It's basically the exact same interface we saw on the Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ8OU. It also shares the slow response time we saw with that HDTV. In particular if you choose to view a photo full screen it can take several seconds to load it, so be ready to spend some time if you want to show off your photos with the Panasonic TC-37LZ85.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 does not support playback of video files from an external source like a hard drive or memory card.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 cannot natively stream video content from internet sources like Youtube or Hulu.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 does not have built-in DVR functionality for recording broadcast television.
Using our calibrated settings but turning down the backlight to a level of 37, which works out to a brightness of 200 candela per meter squared, we measured the Panasonic TC-37LZ85's power consumption at an average of 95.5 watts. We use a brightness level of 200 candelas per meter squared because this should be a good level for viewing both in a brightly lit room and a dark room. Using 95.5 watts works out to an annual cost of $18.72, which is pretty power efficient. Below you can see what happens when you turn the backlight up to maximum or down to the minumum. One interesting thing to note is that at maximum backlight the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 only costs about $5 more per year to operate than the average calibrated cost for all TVs we've reviewed, further pointing out how efficient it is.
The Panasonic TC-37LZ85 can be had for quite a reasonable price, as low as $900 for a 37-inch LCD HDTV that offers full 1080p resolution and a solid selection of ports could be a bargain. Unfortunately it's let down in terms of performance. We were unimpressed by the black level the HDTV was able to manage, and we saw some serious problems with color. Fast motion will can also give the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 some fits.
Not everything's bad, we did like the way both black and whites held up on the display and we were absolutely impressed by the HDTVs viewing angle. The bad does seem to outweigh the good here, however, but not everwhelmingly. If you can get a good deal on it the Panasonic TC-37LZ85 could be a bargain centerpiece of your home entertainment system. If you're willing to spend a bit more, however, you can pick up a lot of quality in something like the Vizio SV470XVT for just a couple of hundred dollars more.
Meet the tester
Alfredo Padilla is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.