Which is the best 37-inch TV?
Making the decision to upgrade from a bulky old 28-inch CRT TV is almost too easy, but heading straight for a 42-inch plasma can seem a little daunting.
And thus the 37″ size has become one of the UK’s most popular shapes; a lot more impressive than a 32-incher, yet not big enough to entirely dominate a living room. It’s also often the maximum size for those of us who are forced, simply by the shape of our living room, to shove a TV in the corner.
It’s a size division that’s as competitive as any, with the big brands weighing in with both LCD and plasma TV models. Despite its direct forerunners being some of the best-reviewed (and best-selling) TVs around, Panasonic’s TX-P37X20 is the only plasma left in this category.
Surrounded by LCD TVs not just from Panasonic, but from other huge brands like Sony, LG and Toshiba, the 37-inch size has become a battleground dominated by aggressively low pricing.
A buyer’s market, the 37″ size is also home to some wonderful innovations. Here you’ll find some sets properly exploiting a Full HD resolution, and TVs with built-in Freesat tuners, others with online dimensions, 100Hz scanning and even – in the case of Loewe’s Connect – a luxury wireless TV that can stream music and video from a PC or Mac, before pumping out incredible sound.
Loewe is hardly typical of this cut-price – and sparsely populated – genre, but it shows just what can be done at this modest measurement.
Affordable HD ready plasma with excellent all-round performance
Plasmas are exceedingly rare at this size, but previous generations of this particular model have routinely been honoured – and this version is no different. It lacks much of the more advanced functions seen further up Panasonic’s range, but for frugal buyers who don’t want to pay for extra bells and whistles, it delivers big performance bangs for a modest buck. It’s merely HD Ready – not Full HD – but with a super-clean performance from its built-in Freeview tuner it makes the perfect all-rounder for living rooms.
BBC iPlayer plus built-in Freeview/Freesat HD tuners on this 3D Edge LED TV
Panasonic’s first effort at an Edge LED TV is also 3D-ready, although it’s sized to steer clear of competing with the brand’s barnstorming 3D plasmas – and the TX-L37DT30B comes a clear second place, judged purely on 3D images.
Still, compared to other 3D LCD TVs, this DT30 Series set is a competitive performer that pairs 3D with quite wonderful 2D, and even Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners. Yes – both!
The appearance of BBC iPlayer – at last – on Panasonic’s Viera Connect platform is welcome, as are deep blacks, an effective anti-blur system, HD detail and some striking colours.
Panasonic’s first 3D LCD TV is a huge success. So huge, in fact, that we have little issue with declaring this one of the finest 37-inchers in the business.
Sharp puts on the style with this natty LED Freeview screen
Affordable and contemporary, but not loaded with the latest tech, Sharp’s 37-incher offers LED backlighting and a mere 45mm depth. An unashamedly everyman screen for those who don’t wish to rummage in the bargain bins, it’s lack of 100Hz, networking or Freeview HD is countered by image sharpness and colour vibrancy as Sharp manoeuvres back into the upper tier of LCD TV makers.
Edge LED lighting in a budget TV
Despite its low price, LG’s 37LE5900 is an edge-lit set that’s proof that LED tech is getting cheaper by the day.
Elsewhere an amazing set of features crammed somehow into a breathtakingly slinky chassis (including a Freeview HD tuner and 100Hz processing), though an occasionally patchy backlight takes the gloss off this otherwise impressive package.
Freeview HD and media streaming grace this brilliant TV
At last, we have a 37-inch TV that carries a Freeview HD tuner that doesn’t cost the earth.
To celebrate the ground-breaking nature of the Bravia KDL-37EX503, Sony has departed from its usual aesthetic by adding a comely strip of brushed aluminium to the bottom edge.
The set’s rear is attractive, too, thanks to the inclusion of four HDMIs, a USB for playing MP3, JPEG, and AVC/AVCHD/DivX/MPEG4 video files, and an Ethernet port. As well as enabling you to stream from DLNA PCs, the Ethernet connects to Sony’s new Bravia Internet Video platform.
Black level response is among the deepest we’ve seen on a non-LED LCD TV, colours are natural and exceptionally subtly blended while the set’s various processing systems do well at cancelling out LCD’s inherent motion blur problems – so HD and SD pictures look enjoyably detailed.
Solid, generously priced 37-inch LCD with superb internet capability
A cheap TV from a top brand is always going to get some attention, but this 37-inch from the Bravia stable earns a second look. The Bravia Internet Video online platform features, as does an integrated Freeview HD tuner, a full HD resolution, optional Wi-Fi support, and multimedia file playback from USB storage devices. Black levels aren’t great and we did notice some motion blur, but Blu-ray looks great – and with all those features on board, it’s easy to gloss over the odd slip-up on this great value 37-incher.
Panasonic TX-L37S20B – £650
Future-proofed Freeview HD model is a winner
Having the brains to decode Freeview HD broadcasts, plus a 1080p panel on which to display it, makes the Panasonic TX-L37S20B about as future-proof as it’s possible to be.
Also appearing is Panasonic’s own V-real Pro 4 processing engine, a sophisticated suite of picture tweaks widely regarded as one of the better examples of its kind currently on the market.
The socket count is disappointing in terms of HDMIs (of which there are just three), but it’s redeemed slightly by the inclusion of an SD card slot for enjoying multimedia files either from the internet or from your personal computer.
Colour is impressive and black levels aren’t bad, and although the picture is on the noisy side, its speakers are typically robust.
One of the best-equipped sets for free HD is a top-notch performer
Despite its run-of-the-mill price, this 37-incher from Panaosnic is a high-end TV – it’s so good that it makes everything else seem rather ordinary.
Laying down a marker for spec and performance that many of its rivals will struggle to match, the D25 adopts Edge LED backlighting and delivers both Freesat HD and Freeview HD tuners. Easily one of the best displays in its class and comprehensively well featured.
Loewe Connect 37 Media
Built-in recording and impressive flexibility don’t come cheap on this 37″ high-end HDTV
Loewe is often slated in reviews for its huge price tags, forgetting that the German luxury brand is so called for a reason.
Massively impressive speakers are the unique attraction on the £2k+ Connect, which takes its name from an ability to stream digital media from a PC or Mac – and again, it’s easy to use, unlike the mainstream brands’ efforts.
Oh, and its 250GB integrated memory enables you to rewind, pause and record live television.
HD has stunning detail and fluidity, though digital TV can look poor. An expensive luxury, perhaps, but this Connect’s luscious user interface and quite brilliant speakers make this a goood high-end alternative, though picture-wise it’s not outstanding.
Advanced networking is the trump card of this connected LED TV
This handsome gunmetal gray LCD is LED-powered and a mere 75mm slim, with Freeview HD, advanced networking features and access to a Panasonic’s tempting new cloud-based Viera Connect service. Picture performance is above average but not quite class leading – blacks just aren’t deep enough for unqualified praise and there are motion artefacts if you crank up the Intelligent Frame Creation feature – but network media support is first class.