Panasonic DX802 (TX-50DX802B) Ultra HD 4K TV Review
What is the Panasonic DX802?The DX802 is Panasonic's latest higher-tier TV, sitting just below the DX902 in the company's new range for 2016. The DX802 shares many of the same features as the DX902 such as 4K PRO Studio Master Ultra HD panel with Studio Master HCX Processing and professional quality colour management technology. The DX802 is also a THX Certified 4K Display, includes local dimming and has support for High Dynamic Range, active 3D and the Firefox Smart TV System; although unlike the DX902 it doesn't have a full array backlight and nor is it Ultra HD Premium certified. The DX802 is part of Panasonic's 'Art and Interior' range and boasts an eye-catching 'Freestyle Design' with a detachable soundbar, an easel stand and a silver finish. The DX802 comes in two screen sizes – the 50-inch TX-50DX802B and the 58-inch TX-58DX802B. As at the time of writing (July 2016) you can pick up the 50DX802 for a very reasonable £1,199 and the 58DX802 for an equally tempting £1,399. So does the DX802B have the performance to go with the designer looks and price? Let's find out.
DesignThe DX802 certainly has a striking designer look that you're either going to love or hate. Panasonic teamed up with Italian designers Cassina to create the easel-style stand and chrome and metallic silver finish. The box for the DX802 is unusually deep because the TV ships already attached to the stand and clearly you'll need a wide surface to position it on. The panel hangs from brackets about halfway down the screen and it looks as though it might swivel but it is in fact quite rigid and solid. There is a weighted crossbar at the real of the stand to give the TV greater stability and to prevent the panel from toppling forward, whilst the screen is also at a slight incline. There are removable panels at the rear which cover the brackets that attach the panel to the stand and you can completely detach it if you would rather wall mount the DX802, with Panasonic including holes for 400x200 VESA wall bracket.
One of the big selling points of the DX802 is its separate soundbar that is designed to improve the audio quality of the TV. It sits between the bottom feet of the stand and is attached to the panel itself via a dedicated cable. The soundbar includes a 12 train prismatic speaker, a quad passive radiator and 40W of amplification, whilst there are holes at the back so that it can, along with the TV, also be wall mounted. The fact that you can detach the soundbar completely means you also have the option to not use it at all and simply use your DX802 with a third-party audio solution. There is a 1.5m power cable that is hardwired to the Panasonic and is located near the right hand bottom rear as you face the screen. The 50DX802 measures 1188mm x 722mm x 316mm (WxHxD) and is well made, with a decent level of build quality and a nicely engineered feel.
The DX802 boasts a striking designer frame and separate soundbar that you'll either love or hate
Connections & ControlThe connections are all at the rear of the TV on the left hand side as you face the screen. There are two removable panels that cover the connections for tidier cable management and the connections themselves are a combination of sideways- and rearwards-facing inputs. Behind the first panel you find all the legacy connections that you're less likely to use and here you'll find component and composite video inputs, along with analogue stereo inputs, an optical digital output and an Ethernet port, although the DX802 includes built in WiFi.
The second set of connections are behind a larger removable panel and here you'll find four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs (which we checked with our Murideo Fresco Six-G), three of which face sideways and one of which faces rearwards. One of the sideways-facing HDMI inputs also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). There are also three USB inputs, two USB 2.0 ports which face rearwards and one USB 3.0 port which faces sideways. Also facing sideways are the CI (Common Interface) slot, a headphone jack, twin terrestrial and satellite tuners and the dedicated connector for the soundbar.
At the right rear edge of the panel there are some basic controls but generally you'll be using one of the two included remotes. The first is a rather attractive silver version, with a brushed metal finish and a suitably high-end appearance. The remote is long and slim, it fits comfortably in the hand and has a solid and well made feel. It is easy to operate with one hand and has an intuitive layout, with large buttons that are sensibly placed depending on how frequently they would be used. All the buttons you need are on the remote and it was our preferred choice when it came to menu heavy activities like setup and calibration.
The second remote is Panasonic's touch pad controller that has been designed for day-to-day use and easy navigation of the Firefox Smart TV platform. The touch pad uses the same silver brushed metal finish as the larger remote and has a black section with a textured finish. It is small and curved, sits comfortably in your hand and is very simple to use. It pairs to the TV using Bluetooth and includes a microphone for voice control. Finally if you’d rather use your smart device as a controller, there are also free remote apps for both iOS and Android with Swipe & Share and Smart Calibration features.
There's a decent set of connections, two remotes, THX 4K TV certification and the excellent Firefox OS
Features & SpecsAs we mentioned in the introduction, the DX802 is a 4K Pro Studio Master UHD model that is designed to produce superior image accuracy thanks to Panasonic's new Studio Master HCX processor and an 8-bit VA panel. The DX802 is also a THX Certified 4K Display, meaning that it has passed 400 lab tests in 30 categories. The Panasonic includes local dimming and has support for active shutter 3D (although you will need to buy the glasses separately) and High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR10. The DX802 also has four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs, providing a good degree of future proofing and it comes with two remote controls. The TV stands out from the rest of Panasonic's range thanks to its designer stand and separate soundbar with a 12 train prismatic speaker, a quad passive radiator and 40W of amplification.
The DX802 has Quad-Core Pro processing and includes the same Firefox Smart TV platform that Panasonic launched last year. Firefox is a great platform with a well designed graphical interface, an open-source design and an intuitive user interface. The home screen is nice and simple with three default decks – Live TV, Apps and Devices - but you can personalise it by pinning your favourite content and apps to it. The platform also includes a search tool, allowing you to easily locate content from a variety of video services, websites and any external devices you may have connected. Along with Netflix and Amazon there is Freeview Play which offers all the major catch-up TV players such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5. In addition you can stream content from other devices or your home network and the DX802 supports AVI, HEVC, MKV, WMV, MP4, M4v, FLV, 3GPP, VRO, VOB, TS, PS, MP3, AAC, WMA Pro, FLAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, JPEG and MPO file types. You can read a detailed review of the Firefox platform here.
Picture Settings Video
Picture Settings - Out-of-the-BoxAlthough the DX802 was reasonably accurate out-of-the-box, we have certainly seen Panasonic TVs that have delivered a better performance after a basic setup. Since it is THX Certified we tested the THX Cinema mode, along with Professional 1 and 2 and found that all three returned the same basic measurements and were, unsurprisingly, the most accurate. The Professional modes turn most of the special features off and correctly set the colour gamut to Rec.709 and colour temperature to Warm2. We set the backlight and contrast to suit the environment, turned down the sharpness control and selected a gamma setting of 2.4.As you can see from the graph above the greyscale performance was reasonable, although there was an excess of blue and a deficit of red across the entire scale. As a result many of the DeltaEs (errors) were at or above the physical threshold of three, where errors become easily visible. The gamma was tracking well though and was very close to our 2.4 target.The colour performance was clearly being affected by the excess of blue in the greyscale, which is why the measurement for white is skewed towards blue from its target, which is the square in the middle. However, even allowing for the errors in the greyscale, the overall colour tracking wasn't as good as we would expect from Panasonic or THX, with both red and green under-saturated at all the lower saturation points. For a company like Panasonic, where colour accuracy is often their strong point, we found this performance a bit disappointing.
The colour accuracy of the DX802 wasn't as good as we would expect from a Panasonic TV
Picture Settings - CalibratedAs with all Panasonic TVs, the DX802 comes with an excellent set of calibration controls, including 2- and 10-point white balance controls, a separate gamma control and a full Colour Management System (CMS), so we would expect to improve the greyscale and colour performance. All testing was done using a Klein K-10A colour meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN 2016 calibration software.We started calibrating the greyscale using the 2-point and then fine-tuned the performance with the 10-point, quickly getting a near-perfect performance with no errors. We also fine-tuned the gamma and the graph above really speaks for itself, with a reference set of measurements.After calibrating the greyscale, white was now measuring precisely at its target and many of the errors caused by the colours being skewed towards blue had been eliminated. However the three primary colours were still under-saturated at lower saturation points and the CMS prooved surprisingly ineffective at dealing with the errors. The secondary colours generally tracked better but even though the DX802 delivered accurate luminance measurements (not shown on the graph above) the overall colour performance remained slightly disappointing, especially for Panasonic. The DX750 we recently tested was definitely better in terms of both red and blue compared to the DX802.
Picture Settings - High Dynamic RangeWhen the DX802 receives an HDR signal you get a message that flashes up in the corner of the screen, however the actual setting used will still be whichever setting you were in when the TV started receiving the signal. This means there isn't a separate HDR setting, as you get on most other manufacturers' TVs. Instead the Backlight and Contrast Controls default to 100 and the Gamma defaults to the HDR PQ EOTF but everything else stays the same, including the selected colour space and the calibrated greyscale.
This means that the best approach to setting up the DX802 would be to use Professional 2 for a Nighttime mode, True Cinema for a Daytime mode and Professional 1 for an HDR mode. That way you could calibrate the greyscale for each setting and use the correct Rec.2020 colour gamut for HDR and Rec.709 for the other two settings.
The TV standards are changing and Ultra HD now uses a higher 10-bit video depth, a wider colour gamut based on Rec.2020 and higher dynamic range with content currently mastered at 1,000nits or even 4,000nits. To reflect these changes we are now measuring the out-of-the-box performance of brands against these new standards, to see what kind of performance an owner can expect from their new TV.
The DX802 actually performed very well in terms of its greyscale performance and tracking against the PQ EOTF. The greyscale is tracking accurately across the entire range, with almost all the errors below the threshold of three and the EOTF is tracking the PQ target very precisely as well. The actual luminance begins to roll of at around 60IRE and we measured the peak brightness at 545nits using a 10% window, which would explain why the DX802 isn't Ultra HD Premium certified.The DX802 has a wider colour gamut but we only measured it at 86% of DCI-P3 using the CIE 1931 Chart, which is less than other TVs we have tested and may be another reason why it isn't certified as Ultra HD Premium because that has a minimum requirement of 90% of DCI-P3. In terms of Rec.2020 coverage that equates to just under 67% but within that limited native colour gamut the various colours actually track quite well against their saturation targets.
Although the DX802 only has a peak brightness of 545nits it performed well in the HDR tests
There has been some debate about how exactly to measure the colour performance of a display in HDR mode and the first graph represented how the DX802 tracked compared to the Rec.2020 saturation points. The graph above shows the DCI-P3 saturation points within the Rec.2020 colour gamut and in this case the DX802 was slightly better, suggesting that this is how the TV is tracking the wider colour space of HDR.
Black Levels and Contrast Ratios
As with almost all of Panasonic's TVs this year, the DX802 uses a VA (Vertical Alignment) panel which resulted in an excellent black level measurement of only 0.02nits, which is impressive for an LCD TV. Although if you turn on the Adaptive Backlight Control (local dimming), the black level immediately drops to 0.002nits. The DX802 also easily hit our standard dynamic range target for night time viewing of 120nits, which means an impressive on/off contrast ratio of 6,000:1. It also delivered an even more impressive ANSI contrast ratio of 5,310:1, which is excellent for an LCD TV and means that you can get a great contrast performance before you even turn on the local dimming.
The DX802 uses a relatively thin chassis and edge LED backlighting but Panasonic have done an excellent job of ensuring the backlight is suitably uniform. There was no apparent dirty screen effect or any obvious bright edges and overall with normal viewing material the backlight performance was very good. At night in a dark room you could see some minor backlight issues but those were rare and easily mitigated with some bias lighting. There were more instances of brighter edges with HDR content and black bars on letterboxed films but since the DX802 only has a peak brightness of 545nits, it isn't as apparent as on edge-lit TVs that have a much higher peak brightness.
Local Dimming and Viewing Angles
The Adaptive Backlight Control (local dimming) on the DX802 was a definite improvement on the DX750 that we reviewed recently and unlike with Panasonic's cheaper TVs, we didn't need too turn it off. In fact the local dimming, even in its Mid setting was actually very effective and able to deliver decent blacks and peak highlights without crushing or clipping. It also rarely got caught out, so we didn't see the same brightness pumping that we have seen on other Panasonic TVs, nor was there a problem with excessive haloing. Panasonic don't recommend a specific ABC setting for HDR but we measured the same peak brightness in both the Mid and High settings, so we would recommend the Mid setting. Naturally, given that the DX802 uses a VA panel, the off-axis performance isn't its strong point and contrast and colour performance will deteriorate once you move more than 45% either side of centre. When you do sit off axis the local dimming becomes more apparent with increased haloing around bright objects.
The motion handling on the DX802 was very good for an LCD TV and delivered around 350 lines of motion resolution on our benchmark test. If you engage the Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) feature this will improve to the full 1080, even in the Min setting, but film content will immediately look more like video. So we wouldn't use IFC with film-based content but feel free to experiment with it when watching sports and the Custom setting allows users to adjust the Blur Reduction and Film Smooth controls to suit their own preferences. There's also the Clear Motion feature which uses black frame insertion to deliver improved motion handling but the image will be darker and some people are likely to experience flicker.
Standard and High Definition
Although standard definition content forms very little of our day-to-day viewing, it is still important that a TV can deinterlace and upscale this content effectively. The DX802 proved to be very effective in this area, with its excellent greyscale and gamma performance providing a solid backbone and Panasonic's equally impressive video processing making the lower resolution content look as good as possible on the Ultra HD 4K panel. There isn't much that the DX802 can do about some of the over-compressed channels available on Freeview but with a well encoded DVD its full potential was apparent and the results were surprisingly watchable.
Once we moved on to high definition TV broadcasts, the performance obviously jumped up a notch and the results were frequently very impressive. With the better HD broadcasters the DX802 deinterlaced and scaled the content very effectively and the results often looked excellent. All the positive attributes we mentioned for standard definition content equally apply to high definition and the colours were also suitably natural, if occasionally slightly under-saturated. When we moved on to Blu-ray the performance got even better and current reference discs like Zootropolis looked stunning, as did favourites like Jurassic World and Tomorrowland. The DX802 had no problems with 24p content and also handled Gravity extremely well, which is our favourite disc for testing local dimming. Overall the Panasonic gave a good account of itself when it came to high definition content.
As features go it's fast becoming something of a rarity these days but the DX802 includes support for active shutter 3D and it delivered a decent performance. You'll have to buy the glasses separately but the images were bright and largely free of unwanted flicker, although that will depend on factors like how susceptible the individual is and whether there are any other light sources in the room. The 3D images had plenty of depth and the colours remained suitably natural in appearance. There was some evidence of crosstalk on the Spears and Munsil torture tests but this was only apparent when objects were in extreme negative or positive parallax and for the majority of 3D viewing we didn't see any crosstalk. We tested the DX802 with recent purchases like Zootropolis and Kung Fu Panda 3, as well as old favourites like Avatar, Gravity and Hugo, and the Panasonic delivered a great overall performance with 3D.
High Dynamic Range
As we found when we tested the DX750, despite the lower peak brightness the DX802 was still capable of delivering a very watchable HDR experience. There certainly appeared to be no adverse affects from the use of an 8-bit panel and watching Ultra HD Blu-rays on both the Samsung UBD-K8500 and Panasonic DMP-UB900 was highly enjoyable. Ultra HD Blu-rays such as The Revenant, Deadpool and Sicario looked marvellous, although a 50-inch screen size is probably about the lower limit in terms of gaining any benefit from the increase in resolution. The HDR certainly added to the experience, with the wider colour gamut delivering a more realistic set of colours. However the peak brightness of 545nits meant the TV couldn't deliver quite the same impact as one that could reach 1,000nits, although as we mentioned earlier it causes less problems for the DX802 with difficult scenes like the tunnels in Mad Max: Fury Road. We did however notice that whilst the DX802 could correctly map content graded at 1,000nit, if we used a 4,000nits or 10,000nits test pattern the TV clipped. This was also true on the 'arriving at Neverland scene' in Pan, which was graded at 4,000nits, because the sun setting behind the mountain wasn't clearly defined. However for most of the HDR content the DX802 is certainly capable of providing an exciting first step into a new world.
The DX802 delivered a solid picture that is sure to please, whether it's 2D, 3D or HDR
Sound QualityOne of the big selling points of the DX802 is its separate soundbar, so we would expect the audio performance to be better than TVs with built-in speakers and so it proved. The soundbar, which can sit inside the stand or be wall mounted depending on how you install the DX802, was quite effective at creating a wide and open sound stage. The fact that the soundbar runs the entire length of the TV means that there is a decent amount of stereo separation and the 12 train prismatic speaker, quad passive radiator and 40W of amplification all help to deliver a solid audio experience. The soundbar can go quite loud without distorting or becoming brittle and is more than capable of filling the average-sized living room.
It handled dialogue well, keeping it clear and centred, whilst music was well reproduced, especially in the mid-range and higher frequencies. The bass presence was limited however and the DX802 is no match for a soundbar that comes with its own dedicated active subwoofer. If you're buying the DX802 because you like the design, then the soundbar is part of the package and will certainly do a good job but if you want a really big audio performance, especially with movies, then an actual dedicated soundbar with its own subwoofer is a better solution. Although since you can just disconnect the soundbar included with the DX802, if you do decide to use a different soundbar it can be quite a tidy solution.
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionThe DX802 delivered an input lag of 44ms in Game Mode, which whilst not as low as some of the competition, should be good enough for all but the most demanding of gamers. We certainly had no problems with lag when gaming and found the overall performance to be very good with our PS4. One interesting thing to note is that you can select the Game Mode when watching HDR content, which means that when HDR games are released you should still be able to enjoy the benefits of a lower input lag.
The energy consumption was also very efficient and on a 50% raster the DX802 measured 61W in its default Normal viewing mode and 64W in our calibrated True Cinema viewing mode. The level of consumption obviously increased when watching HDR content but even then the Panasonic was only measuring 110W, which is handy if energy efficiency is important to you.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best) 67% 10-bit Panel HDMI 2.0a Inputs HDCP 2.2 Support HEVC Decoding 4K Streaming Services Smart TV Platform Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 8 What do these mean?
- Excellent black levels
- Impressive video processing
- Accurate greyscale & colour gamut
- Decent HDR performance
- Plenty of video streaming services
- Separate soundbar
- Design could be divisive
- Narrow viewing angles
- Limited HDR capabilities
- Anti-reflection filter distracting
Panasonic DX802 (TX-50DX802B) Ultra HD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?
The DX802 is clearly aimed at the lifestyle sector of the TV market but we were pleased to discover that despite the emphasis on design, Panasonic haven't compromised on performance. The 50DX802 uses an easel-style silver stand that includes a separate soundbar and it is certainly eye-catching. The build quality is good and although you will need a wide surface to position the DX802B on, there is also the option to wall mount both the TV and the soundbar. In the case of the soundbar itself, it definitely sounds better than most built-in speakers but will struggle to compete with a dedicated soundbar that includes its own active subwoofer. In terms of features the DX802 includes THX certification, active shutter 3D and support for HDR10, along with Panasonic's excellent Firefox Smart TV platform with a full compliment of catch-up and streaming services. The input lag was measured at 44ms and if energy consumption is important to you, the DX802 proved to be very efficient.
The overall performance of the 50DX802B was very good, with a decent out-of-the-box performance and an impressive greyscale accuracy after calibration. We were a little disappointed at the overall colour accuracy, especially from a Panasonic, but the DX802 handled the HDR tests quite well. The native colour gamut was 67% of Rec.2020, the peak brightness was limited to 545nits and the tone mapping appeared to clip content mastered at more than 1,000nits but overall the HDR performance was good, although lacking some of the impact of other TVs we've tested. The performance with standard and high definition content was excellent and we were glad to find that the local dimming was much improved over other Panasonic TVs we've seen. The 3D was also very good, delivering plenty of depth whilst keeping the flicker and crosstalk to a minimum. So overall the Panasonic TX-50DX802B proved to be an excellent combination of design and performance that is worthy of recommendation.
What are my alternatives?
The 50DX802 is also very competitively priced, putting it in a good position when it comes to the competition. However if you like Panasonic but aren't so keen on the DX802's designer looks, then the excellent TX-50DX750B can be picked up for around £100 less. If you're happy to look at other manufacturers, then the HDR TV options are rather limited at this screen size but Samsung's impressive UE49KS7000 is the obvious choice. Its screen is an inch smaller but it costs the same and it is Ultra HD Premium certified, meaning it can deliver at least 90% of DCI-P3 and over 1,000nits of peak brightness. It doesn't support 3D but it has just about everything else and the larger UE55KS7000 picked up a Best Buy badge when we reviewed it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,399.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level9
3D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
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