What is the Panasonic TX-50AX802?
It would be fair to say that Panasonic’s first 4K TV, the WT600, didn’t really hit the heights we’ve come to expect from the company.
Design & Connections
The chassis of the AX802 is also thicker than we’ve got used to over the last three years, or so, but we have absolutely no problems with that if it leads to good screen uniformity. We do have slight concerns that 3 of the 4 HDMI ports are located too close for comfort to the edge of the bezel and pointing out from the side, however, so there is the chance that they’ll stick out at the rear if you don’t utilise the unusual wire tidy system in the back stand. The other HDMI port, is your version 2.0 input with compatibility for HDCP 2.2 so it’s one of the ‘4K’ capable inputs, along with the adjacent Display Port input. Elsewhere are legacy video connections for component, Scart and composite – by means of adapters – a digital audio out and both wired and wireless LAN. You also get dual tuner satellite (Freesat) and DVB-T2 (Freeview) tuners, an SD card slot and 3 USB ports, so it’s quite the list!
The results seen below are based on the out-of-the-box THX Cinema Mode but the results are very similar to what you will get with Professional 2, bar a different (slightly brighter) gamma response, and very good they are too. There is a slight deficiency of red energy, and corresponding small excess of green and blue, throughout the greyscale but with delta Errors topping out at around 4, there’s no real visible lack of neutrality. Ideally we would want a gamma response between 2.2 and 2.3, for this TV in a darkish room, and THX Cinema has it closer to an average of 2.15 so it’s a tiny bit too bright to be ideal. In terms of colours matching the Rec 709 standard, we’re in good shape here too, bar a general over-luminance.
The ISF calibration controls are pretty great. We kind of wish the 10 point White Balance acted more like the Samsung equivalents in being meaningfully effective in affecting gamma response, as it can be a bit of a chore hopping between them and the 10 point Gamma adjustments but we really shouldn’t complain. The results speak for themselves and we were able to obtain perfectly flat greyscale tracking and a gamma curve exactly to suit.
….But, the outermost 1/6 of the screen, on either side, were quite a bit brighter and paler than the rest of the screen so the edge-lighting dispersion mechanism isn’t quite doing its job, as it should. We actually compared the measurements taken above to those taken at the centre of the screen and whilst overall deltaE’s remained under 2, saturation errors went over 5 so definitely noticeable to the human eye. Big deal? Not so much. We really only ever noticed on the likes of the Netflix splash screen and our full-screen test patterns but it was of niggling concern…
We were slightly intrigued by the sound of the ‘1080p Pixel by 4pixels’ option within the Picture Menu, with its promise to display like pixel by pixel on a Full HD resolution display but it proved not particularly interesting. All it does is make a cluster of 4 pixels equivalent to 1 pixel in 1080p and the results are not as good as the scaling of the processor so we’re struggling to see the point. Had it taken some burden off the processor for gaming, we could probably see one but it didn’t, so we remain slightly puzzled.
That aside, the general standard of processing is excellent and although there’s no denying the - relatively small for 4K - fifty-inch panel is going to be quite forgiving to lower resolution signals, it’s plain to see that the scaling performance was extremely good. It failed the PAL-centric 2:2 cadence test but you don’t really want to be feeding an Ultra HD TV with DVDs so it’s of no real consequence. Video deinterlacing performance was very good, however, so you’re broadcast HD (1080i) will be handled very well.
We like the fact that the Game mode can be activated in any Viewing Mode so we could play with a calibrated image and the AX802 proved quite a responsive TV, by Ultra HD standards. It returned a measurement a 37 milliseconds using our testing device which we would consider well within the tolerances of most gamers, and certainly adequate for our needs.
• Standby: 0W
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
• Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 110W
• Calibrated – Professional Mode: 115W
• Calibrated - 3D Mode: 204W
Panasonic TX-50AX802 Picture Quality – 2D
So we were back to our accumulation of test clips and, as you would expect, they all looked great with rich textures and nuanced lighting. Naturally the accuracy of the AX802 also reaps dividends in getting the most out of the 3840 x 2160 pixels too, and the solid blacks help underpin everything with the kind of impact we like. The dimming system, mentioned earlier, is very good, too, and nullifies the slight inconsistency in panel brightness between sides and centre during dark scenes.
Will you be able to pick out every last drop of the resolution hike from a ‘normal’ sitting position? Probably not, but the other qualities noted lift it above 1080p and, such is the quality of the scaling, you’ll be losing nothing watching your Blu-rays, compared to your 1080p TV, whilst gaining a degree of future-proofing in to the bargain. On the subject of Blu-rays, we were pleased to see Panasonic has included a letterbox dimming feature which disables the pixels corresponding to the ‘black bars’ in scope movies. And it works really well so movie watching, in the (near) dark is just that bit more immersive.
In terms of picture quality, there is most certainly much more to like, than not, with the 50AX802 and we think it’s a massive step-up on the WT600. That’s not to mention just about every other LCD TV the company has produced in the last few years, so we’re pleased to see them at least back in the game, on the image quality front, when we feared they may struggle in the post-plasma era.
Panasonic TX-50AX802 Video Review
Panasonic TX-50AX802 Picture Quality - 3D
- Highly accurate colours
- Very good native contrast
- Effective dimming system
- Super video processing
- Lovely remotes
- Tons of Smart TV features
- Some uniformity issues
- Netflix 4K seems a very big miss
Panasonic TX-50AX802B (AX802) Ultra HD 4K TV Review
The Panasonic TX-50AX802B is a pleasing return to form for Panasonic’s LED/LCD TV division. It has the looks, with an attractive front stand and narrow bezel. It has the connections, with one of its 4 HDMI ports being version 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 compatible. It also has most of the Smart TV features you could ever want too. It is also - unlike the WT600 at launch - competitively priced and capable of producing really great pictures, packed full of detail and contrast, blessed with extreme accuracy and delivered by more than competent video processing. It isn’t perfect, nothing is, and we’d have liked to have seen less niggling uniformity issues - and compatibility with 4K Netflix - but it’s still a fine entrant to the Resolution Revolution and well worth your consideration.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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