Design & Features
Like many HDTVs wearing the Panasonic tag, the VIERA D25S requires a little assembly work if you wish to deploy it on the pedestal stand. Contrary to their traditional blend of LCD displays, the D25S is a nice change from their dull mix of black or grey concoctions. Mostly, the D-series does not convey an avant-garde feel like the glassy LG INFINIA or Sony's Monolithic range, but it does stand out from the LCD crowd with its "crystallized" purplish hues on the bezel. At 77 mm deep, the edge-lit panel's depth is also noticeably skinnier than Panasonic's CCFL range, like the thicker U-series for example. This, in turn, makes it a suitable choice for wall-mounts as well. Hardware buttons remain as a standard feature, and they can be found on the right wing of the display should the remote fail you. The D25S swivels on a silver ellipse stand, approximately 25 degrees both ways.
You can say Panasonic's AV spread is a hit-and-miss job. On the upside, we were comfortable with the array of analog and digital ports. Apart from the blend of composite and component plugs, there're two HDMI slots mounted behind the panel and one on the side. The HDMI2 connector offers ARC (digital output of sound) features as well. There is a surplus of multimedia connectors too, judging from its brew of two USB offerings and an SD card slot which supports the SDXC format. What we didn't fancy, however, is the deep placement of the USB1 and Ethernet ports behind. As such, ensure the necessary cables are wired up before installing the TV. Panasonic's gray remote remains unchanged since we last saw a VIERA. The usual suspects are there, such as buttons for VIERA Tools (multimedia interface), VIERA Cast (internet content), plus auxiliary controls for devices managed over VIERA Link (Panasonic's HDMI-CEC feature).
Observably, the D25S prompted us to update its firmware once we wired the display to the Internet. The software version was eventually numbered as 5.500 after the upgrade, versus its initial 0.293 version. The D-series might never grow bigger than its 42-inch size, but don't discount its abilities as yet. There're two TV tuners to start with, consisting of a terrestrial and digital (DVB-T) package. For its interface, Panasonic has retained its text-based and somewhat boring UI, although it does horde a broad range of adjustments for the AV enthusiast. We spotted two Professional (ISFccc) modes available out of the eight picture presets. The Professional selections also unlocks a variety of tweaks, such as color management, gamma, and white balance options if you wish to calibrate the unit further.
Compared to its rivals, Panasonic is a little late to the Internet stage but we reckon it's better to be late than never. VIERA Cast, as anticipated, is present in the D-series installment. Panasonic's infotainment platform does not yield as many widgets as Samsung Apps, but it does carry fundamental social networking and news applications such as YouTube, Twitter and Picasa; plus Bloomberg for stock market updates as well as a customizable weather app. Text entry on the D25S was relatively painless, since the TV allows you to punch in alphanumeric characters via the remote's keypad like how you would do so on a mobile phone. Don't hesitate to plug in a USB keyboard if that's still too tedious for you. Skype is available on VIERA Cast, but you'll need to part with $229 for the 720p TY-CC10W webcam to reap its VoIP benefits.