For the price, this series could perform better: Despite testing with highly accurate color, a host of other problems spell this TV's picture quality as wholly average, perhaps even less.
Expect your socks to remain firmly on your feet.
One thing that's pretty common to almost all budget and entry-level TVs is a by-the-book design. The L32B6's appearance might show up under HDTV in Webster's: Black rectangle upon black rectangle with screen. Rinse and repeat.
Due to its Direct LED build, the B6 is not supremely thin, but it's still thinner from edge to edge than that old boxy set in your grandma's basement. This TV looks sort of fancy from a distance, but to the touch is clearly made of cheap plastic. The glossy finish is prone to prints of the finger variety.
Looks aside, the L32B6 is entirely usable—just don't expect high-end connectivity options. Only two HDMI inputs are available, meaning only two high-definition devices can connect at once. There's also a single USB 2.0 port, for personal media playback, and a shared component/composite cluster.
Alongside the B6, you'll find Panasonic's standard remote control. This wee clicker can access menus, change volume and channel, and pull up USB media with a single button. Considering how basic this TV is, you probably won't need it for much else.
Sometimes, saving money comes at a cost.
The standard 2013 HDTV is quite fancy: More than half of the market features internet, 3D, or crazy-straw stands. The L32B6 is not one of those, however—even its software is simplified.
Our 32-inch test unit is equipped with the most basic controls, allowing few changes to its 1366 x 768 picture, and even less tweaking of its two 10-watt speakers. Users will find controls for Back Light, Contrast, Brightness, and Color, as well as a few advanced options for aspect ratio and color temperature.
As for extras, there's really just one—for $280, you aren't getting any bells or whistles. Like most TVs on the market, the B6 allows for playback of images and audio files via USB storage. This is as standard these days as power steering on a car, but it's not nearly as useful.
The B6 delivers ho-hum picture quality.
As far as picture quality goes, the B6 is capable of displaying a decent image—but not without some tweaking first. Out of the box, its black level is set correctly, but not its contrast level—the common "red push" gives whites and grays a very pink tinge, which is highly noticeable throughout the grayscale.
The result, after calibration, is an average picture. Setting its contrast to eliminate the pink tinge caused poor black levels and a somewhat dim peak brightness. On the plus side, it also allowed for accurately saturated color with no banding. Expect things like news, sports, and most TV shows to look okay—we can't recommend this TV to film junkies or serious gamers, though, as it lacks ability to display subtle shadow details and dynamic levels of light.
One of the biggest concerns we have when testing a 720p TV is whether or not it will be capable of displaying a properly-mapped image. These entry-level panels often struggle to map, pixel for pixel, an incoming 720p or 1080p signal—because, in truth, they have a 1366 x 768 resolution. Interested shoppers will be glad to know that the Panasonic B6 doesn't have this problem: Aspect adjustments allow it to properly display the most common TV resolutions.
Another area of disappointment is the B6's motion performance, which is sub-par compared to mid-tier and higher-end TVs. The L32B6 uses a 60Hz processor to handle motion, and its LCD "sample and hold" technique is a little thin for 2013 standards. Expect more intensive content to display blurring, some color trailing, and the occasional touch of artifacting. It's not a wholly ugly result, but we've seen much better.
Truly the bottom of the barrel.
The Panasonic Viera TC-L32B6 may look like a steal on paper—a name-brand 32-inch LCD for under $300? Aw yeah. Yet testing revealed that it's a poor choice for anyone looking for commendable picture quality.
While its $279.99 MSRP is definitely a cheap one within the industry, buyers should keep in mind that better-performing options are available for only a little more money.
For a $280 MSRP, we weren't expecting the Panasonic Viera TC-L32B6 to keep up with the best televisions of the year, but our lab testing revealed that it isn't even really up to average standards. Its biggest error is the result of a skewed light limitation. Without a good bit of informed calibration, this TV gets too bright, leading to huge color temperature problems.
For Panasonic? Pretty sad.
Panasonic's butt-kicking ZT60 sports the highest contrast ratio we've ever seen, outside of those wildly expensive OLEDs. That's why we're fairly disappointed in this LCD's contrast performance—it's well below average.
We tested a poor black level of 0.24 cd/m2 , which is approaching the worst black levels on the market. This wouldn't be quite so egregious if the B6 could break 200 cd/m2 in peak brightness, but it can't—we tested a modest 180.20 cd/m2 at 20% APL, giving the B6 a very narrow contrast ratio of 750:1.
Not bad, B6.
A TV's horizontal viewing angle is an important point to know when deciding whether or not to wall-mount, but it's just as important when deciding upon the overall panel quality. Generally, we like to see about 90° of total viewing flexibility.
The B6 boasts about 46° of viewing from the center to either side, which gives it a total of 92°. This is a decent result, though it's unlikely you'll need a wide viewing angle on a 32-inch TV.
One area the B6 doesn't totally bomb.
If there's one thing this TV is good at, it's displaying the right colors. When we test a TV's color, we test three key areas: color accuracy, color balance, and relative luminance.
Against the international HDTV color standard—called Rec. 709—the Panasonic B6 tested with a very high degree of accuracy, matching its red, green, blue, and white points almost perfectly to the ideal. This means that all of the colors it shows will be accurately rendered, and appropriately subtle or vibrant.
The B6 also tested with excellent color and grayscale gamma, which determines how well it transitions between neighboring hues and shades. We look for smooth, even curves that ideally overlap one another from 0 to 100 IRE. While the B6's curves weren't perfect—it oversaturates red a bit—its overall result is admirable.
Unfortunately, the Panasonic B6 struggled with the final area, which saw its correlated color temperature shifting massively across the grayscale. Out of the box, its whites and grays had a pink tinge; lowering contrast fixed the worst of it, but our colorimeter saw the rest. The result is a mix of white "flavors" as the TV travels from minimum to maximum output.
Meet the tester
Editor, Home Theater@Koanshark
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Checking our work.
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