Some nifty apps but average picture quality
What is the Panasonic AS740?This 1080p TV is toward the top of Panasonic’s pecking order. It sits just below the AS802 /800 and slightly above both the TX-48AS640 and AS650. The TX-47AS740, up for testing here, is 3D capable and provides oodles of Smart TV features too. As well as the 47-inch model, there are also 42” and 55” versions available.
Who is it aimed at?Obviously, Panasonic would like the AS740 to be considered by all but with pricing (September 2014) at around £900 for the 47-inch, £700 for the TX-42AS740 and £1200 for the 55AS740, that will exclude some from considering it. Panasonic markets this TV with a heavy bias on the Smart TV features – particularly the Freetime App, my Stream and TV Anywhere (more on those later) – so if that stuff is of no interest, you may want to consider something a bit more budget orientated.
DesignA subjective question but there’s no denying it looks contemporary. There’s a very narrow silver bezel surrounding the screen and it sits on an ‘airy’ base stand in a matching metallic finish. We did notice – when cleaning marks from the screen – that the AS740 is a bit wobbly but there is a securing strap to attach to your cabinet provided in the box.
The stand is very floaty
Panasonic AS740 wall-mountingThis is a good TV for putting on the wall. It is both skinny (approx. 5cm depth) and has some connections that point downwards, so you can get a flush finish. There aren’t actually any specific wall-mounting instructions in the box (at least not the one we got) but there are pre-drilled holes for mounting the TV to a bracket, in conventional sizes.
What’s the best way to connect it?There are plenty of audio & video connections
The AS740 has 3 HDMI inputs, for your HD sources, and two of these face downwards. The other sits very close to the edge of the bezel and points side-wards and is joined by 3 USB ports, a headphone jack and an SD Card slot for media playback. Around the back – and pointing out - are legacy video inputs (Scart, Component, Composite) and joining the down-facing HDMI connections are Freeview HD and Freesat HD aerial and satellite terminals. You also get both wired and wireless internet options and digital audio output for hooking up to a soundbar or other audio solution.
Set up and useYou can find a copy of the user manual here but there’s also a very useful 'eHelp' feature built in to the 47AS740 which explains most of the menu items. On first setting up the TV, you will be offered the chance of a tutorial on the ‘my Home Screen’ (more later) interface but the voice is robotic and jarring so you’re probably best learning for yourself. For those that don’t like the fact that the AS740 doesn’t boot straight to full-screen TV, my Home Screen can be disabled.
As is the case with most higher-end Smart TVs, the AS740 comes replete with two remote controls in the box. There’s your conventional Panasonic handset, styled in matching silver, which is absolutely fine but you may want to consider the new Touch Pad controller which simplifies using the Smart TV features, once you get to know it. This stylish little gizmo nestles nicely in the palm of your hand and offers a microphone for (surprisingly effective) voice control, and the eponymous touch pad for scroll and ‘flick’ commands. You also get a few basic standard control buttons and we think its worth persevering with the learning curve as it does make things easier. Again, there’s a tutorial for it built-in to the TV.
Panasonic Smart TV appsIn our estimation, Panasonic holds a couple of aces up the sleeve of its Smart TV platform. Namely, the Freetime app and TV Anywhere. Freetime, interacts with both Freeview and Freesat to provide a roll back TV guide, from which you can access catch-up programming from BBC iPlayer, 40D, Demand 5 and ITV Player and it works very well. You can also access the catch-up services as standalone players, should you wish. Freetime also provides an enhanced, and very attractive, EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) and we think it’s excellent.
Naturally, there are a number of other video streaming services built-in to the Smart TV platform, too, with Netflix, YouTube and Wuaki probably the best known of those. But it’s with the TV service integration where Panasonic’s offering distinguishes itself and TV Anywhere is another lovely feature. It allows you to record programming from the built in Freesat and Freeview tuners to a hard drive and then you can access them using ‘my Home Cloud’ via an app available for both iOS and Android users, wherever you have an internet connection. The TX47AS640 also includes a built-in camera for Skype video calling but there’s more on that in our dedicated review piece, as well as the rest of what you need to know.
Freetime & TV Anywhere are both really good
AS740 Sound QualityThere’s nothing inherently awful about the in-built speakers but they’re far from spectacular, either. They present dialogue with decent clarity and offer enough separation for day to day use. But if you are anything like as serious about how your entertainment sounds, as well as how it looks, you’d be best investigating even a modest separates solution.
Panasonic TX-47AS740 Video Review
There wasn’t too much wrong with the AS740 at default settings in the True Cinema mode. There was generally a little too much red and green energy in the greyscale, giving whites a yellow hue, but delta Errors never rose above 5, and since a deltaE of 3 is considered undetectable, it’s not far out. Colour wise, the highest error is only just above 3 so it’s a very accurate out of box setting, with a generally under-lit colour gamut that shouldn’t take too much effort to correct.
Panasonic provide both two and ten point white balance controls in the AS740, so it’s no surprise we were able to dial in a greyscale which was perfect both in terms of the mix of red, green and blue but also at the right level of luminance, throughout. There is also a Colour Management System which allowed us to improve what was already impressive accuracy to reference levels.
As we've come to expect from Panasonic, the TX47AS740 is very accurate
Panasonic TX-47AS740B Picture QualityWith content that is bright and colourful, the AS740 does an excellent job. The True Cinema mode provides a very accurate platform and there’s an excellent sense of detail to images too. Viewing angles are also pretty good, on the horizontal plane, but contrast does fade quickly from above or below. Motion handling (caveats below) is also quite respectable and the AS740 has no issues correctly displaying a variety of film cadences.
Where this TV struggles is with any material with dark scenes. The native contrast of the panel just isn’t up to the job of delivering scenes where that is a requirement for any sense of impact. Where black should be, there is just dark grey and the Active Backlight Control dimming system is of no great benefit. It just dims the darker portions of the image and blocks out details in the shadows, which does nothing for the overall dynamic range of the picture.
So it’s with the likes of nature documentaries, daytime/kids TV and sports where the AS740 looks at its best but it’s also a decent performer with 3D content. The passive 3D system is totally free from flicker and there’s very little ghosting either so it’s a great choice for families. There’s also a couple of pairs of 3D eyewear in the box, just to get you started.
Are there any issues?There were a couple of concerns we noted with the 47AS740B; neither unfamiliar. Without the IFC option enabled, any signal with a 50Hz screen refresh (all UK broadcast TV/DVD) wasn’t handled correctly, which was most noticeable in stuttering screen movement and a sense of judder. Engaging IFC in ‘Min’ gets rid of this and it is activated by default in all the picture modes so this won’t be an issue for most, who are unlikely to change any TV settings. The other flaw was also mostly spotted with panning shots, where a dirty screen effect can spoil things with blotchy grey patches visible on screen.
There's little to no picture quality upgrade over other models lower in the pecking order
AS740 good for video games?It could be better, that’s for sure. By going in to the Options submenu, from within the Picture Menu, we were able to reduce input lag down to 57ms. It’s not horrendous but any games requiring very fast reactions might seem to be slightly sluggish and considering some TVs have latency much lower, you could find yourself compromised online. On the plus side, the ability to activate the Game mode from any chosen Picture pre-set, means you can have a nice, colour-accurate gaming experience.
Panasonic AS740 vs Panasonic AS650With pricing between these two 47” Panasonic TVs around £200 apart, we can think of no compelling reason why you would choose the more expensive AS740. Other than the built-in video camera and a fancier stand, the costlier model doesn’t really prove much of an upgrade, despite the nominally higher back light scanning system, which ultimately offers little to no real world benefit.
- Nice design
- Freetime app is excellent
- Generally excellent Smart TV platform
- Very accurate colours
- Below par contrast
- Weak blacks
- Lack of shadow detail
- Poor dimming system
- Some screen uniformity issues
Panasonic TX-47AS740 (AS740) TV ReviewShould I buy the Panasonic AS740?
We wouldn’t say don’t but, in outright picture quality terms, we don’t think the AS740 really does enough to justify its lofty status and corresponding price-tag. There are things to like, certainly, with accurate colours, strong video processing and a bevvy of useful and innovative Smart TV functions but patchy screen uniformity and mediocre contrast levels let it down, all things considered.
What else could I buy?
At around £150 less (September 2014), the Toshiba L74 is honestly at least near its equal in PQ terms, although lacking in the niceties of the Smart TV platform, and the Samsung H6400 is better in almost all respects, yet currently priced around the same level as the Toshiba. But if you do fancy a Panasonic Smart TV and all that brings with it, why not consider the AS640 which features almost everything the AS740 does but has a more contrast rich picture.
For a more general overview of the best TVs available right now, you could always consult our Buyers Guides.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level6
2D Picture Quality7
3D Picture Quality7
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money7
Our Review Ethos
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