I always promised myself I would be patient and resist buying a 4k TV or 4k projector until such times as all the standards have been settled. At this moment in time, I’m still holding on to an unrealistic hope that Sky TV will be broadcasting 4k sport at 100/120 frames per second, and that we’ll see this in HDMI 2.1. Probably a pipe dream but there is still some work to be done on HDR standards so I’m still of the view that now is not just quite the time to jump into 4k. (unless you are happy to replace your set if it turns out to be non-compliant)
Well, that view was until BT released their UltraHD box and my resistance was finally broken! I’ve still got one eye on the future so I told myself that I would get a half decent midrange set to tide me over for the next 12-18 months and then I’ll jump into a full investment in top spec 4k (either TV or projection, or maybe even both if the better half lets me away with it!)
With the UltraHD BT Box announced, I set to work on picking a new TV. Based on the fact it was going into an all white room, with 5 tall windows and the TV was mounted a bit higher than I would like above a cavity stove arrangement, the parameters that needed to be met were as follows:
- 50 inch max (to replace a 47”)
- HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 compliance
- No Dirty screen effect
- No Dirty screen effect (did I say that again?)
- Good viewing angles
- Good black floor/overall contrast
- High brightness
- Good handling of Sky HD material
- As less reflective a panel as I could find
- Good motion handling
- £1.2/£1.3k max budget but ideally £1k (refer back to what I said about upgrading in a year or so)
With this shortlist in mind, I knew before I set out that the TV that I required didn’t actually exist, but I was on a quest to get one as close to this as possible. Enter, the Panasonic 50CX700.
This is how it faired on my shortlist of parameters:
- 50 inch max (to replace a 47”) – CHECK
- HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 compliance – CHECK
- No Dirty screen effect - CHECK
- No Dirty screen effect (did I say that again?) – CHECK!
- Good viewing angles – SEMI-CHECK (not as good as an IPS panel but better than the Samsung’s I was looking at)
- Good black floor/overall contrast – CHECK CHECK CHECK with a mighty big CHECK to finish J
- High brightness – CHECK CHECK CHECK
- Natural looking colour performance – CHECKETY, CHECK CHECK
- Good handling of Sky HD material – CHECK
- As less reflective a panel as I could find – SEMI CHECK
- Good motion handling – CHECK
- £1.2/£1.3k max budget but ideally £1k (refer back to what I said about upgrading in a year or so) CHECK (£850)
So how did I come about buying this TV then?
It started off by reading as many reviews as possible, as well as multiple visits to retail stores to see them in person. Read a bit, go look a bit, read a bit more, go look again etc…I was particularly interested by Phil’s review where he talked about decent viewing angles. They are decent, and where my TV is mounted, I’m square on and slightly below the height of it and the TV performs as I had hoped and no issue with image performance dropping from the angle I’m at. This was encouraging and I was able to check this out at store prior to purchase so I knew what I was in for. Add in the clean screen with no dirty screen effect, which is a pet hate of mine, and all was looking promising.
Phil also quoted some stats on contrast which sounded really encouraging as well as talking about the sublime colours. In the shop, these comments were backed up but at home, once set up, it really hit home about how good this set actually is. Simply stunning at this price bracket.
As part of the process, I had looked at lots of stats and other TV’s and from a pure stats point of view, the CX700 was quite simply untouched at this price level, and indeed, well above this price level. Black floor at 0.02 with 120cd/m2 brightness giving something like 6k:1 ansi contrast. Another site gave 0.028 at 120cd/m2 and 0.004 at 121cd/m2 using adaptive backlight. The only TV I’ve found that betters these stats is Panasonics CX802 (possibly the same panel but even better again due to features and processing?) and when you add in the fact that the CX700’s brightness capability is well above some ‘HDR’ TV’s, it’s quite a compelling proposition.
Even the high end Samsung’s don’t go this bright, or match this level of contrast. I’m not saying the CX700 looks better (I don’t have them at home to compare after all) but from a pure stats point of view, they don’t reach these contrast or brightness numbers. When I was demoing, I seen the 4K OLED set from LG right next to this CX700 and while the CX700 was showing some lovely daytime footage, the OLED set was showing some night time cityscapes and my mouth was watering. (The OLED price was eye watering though!) The OLED blacks, even in the bright showroom, were a sight to behold. Just as good as you could ever hope for.
What stunned me though, and what I wasn’t prepared for, was that this CX700 gives a similar picture to the OLED in my room at home. No joke. I’m not for one minute saying it’s got as good a black floor or contrast as the OLED, but the way I have my CX700 set up in my room, it certainly looks like it. You see, my room is similar to a showroom in that’s it usually got lights on and there are 5 long windows in it. I have it in true cinema with the backlight pumped up way higher than Phil’s recommended 20 (I’ve been using around 60) The room needs the TV to be driven high but when you go this high, the blacks still stay really black and while I haven’t measured the contrast at this setting, the contrast is insane! In a better room, I’m sure the OLED would show its aces but in my conditions, I almost feel I’m watching an OLED that goes really bright.
It really looks very similar to how the LG OLED looked in the showroom. I think that it possibly might be down to the higher brightness meaning my eyes think the blacks are blacker than they really are. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how it measures, because it’s all about how it looks and the contrast rocks on this TV, it really does – deep blacks and stunning highlights.
Then you’ve got the much touted colour accuracy of this new panel and I’ve got to say, it looks every bit a more high end product. Greens are wonderfully bright and punchy, but without a hint of neon or oversaturated look, just beautifully natural and that goes for the rest of the colours too. When you add this colour performance to the contrast performance, you are left with a mix of images that have defied my belief. I love plasma, but it’s the lack of brightness that made me move away from plasma and this CX700 is verging on plasma like image, but with the capability to handle any type of room condition. I feel like I’m having my cake and eating it.
The promotion material for this TV shows an evening city scape of Dubai on the screen and I actually watched a 4k Time-lapse video of Dubai which shows a similar scene, with a bit of mist in the evening amongst all the bright lights and then the mist clears and it becomes night time. My jaw hit the floor when the mist cleared and the sky darkened – contrast and colour just jumped out of the screen. I’m in heaven looking at the pictures this TV can produce. NO DSE, good viewing angle, stunning colours underpinned by amazing contrast results in as clean and vibrant an image as I could ever have hoped for.
It may sound like I am waxing lyrical about this TV – well, you would be right. I am. For what I’m after on my checklist, it’s worked out perfectly for me. I know what I want from an image and I worked hard to find the best one to deliver it within my budget and the CX700 was the right choice. To give you a bit of perspective, I’m a home cinema fan that mainly focuses on front projection for mostly movies and sport as my content. I’ve been using projectors (some pretty high end ones) for years so what I’m after in an image will be heavily swayed by years of big screen viewing.
The JVC HD750 was one of my 1st ‘proper’ projectors – it was great in the main but suffered from poor motion handling. The JVC X3 and the subsequent X70 and range topping X90 I got later on got even better – 80k:1 native contrast in a room with velvet walls and ceilings was a sight to behold. An interesting point was that while all these projectors resolved circa 300 lines in motion tests, they looked different.
One member described the HD750 as looking as if moving images were vomited onto the screen. I wouldn’t say that bad, but it was poor. The X series however were much improved, yet still only measured 300 ish lines….I think you know where I am going with this. The CX700 measures 300 ish lines, but actually, and Phil mentions it in the review, motion actually still looks good. I’ve yet to use the motion enhancement options as I don’t think they are needed. The response time on this set is 12ms which makes it among the fastest around…not sure what that means for onscreen viewing but that was another area of research I had looked into.
Some may disagree with the motion capability of this set, and probably for very good reason. Years of watching projectors like this has maybe made me a little immune to motion handling so don’t take my word for it, go see one yourself if you are interested in the TV. I know in the owners threads, some people have said other brands have better motion so take that on board to.
Also worthy of note is that when I’m driving the panel with a highish backlight, you may get some uniformity issues, i.e., brightness across the whole panel might not be totally consistent. I’m very sensitive to this but it doesn’t detract from the viewing in my case. As mentioned, go take a look for yourself and see what you think. I’m influenced here again by my current home cinema (no dedicated room now, using a 104” react 2 screen in a white room with a Sony HW50 projector)This particular screen gives great contrast in a typical living room and it works, caveat being that it has a viewing cone with brightness drop off at the edges of the screen. So I’ve probably become used to lack of uniformity.
In any case, Phil states that the lower you drive the backlight, the less you can see this type of effect and I’ve found that to be the case too. Even when you do see it, it’s not actually that bad, and some may not even notice at all. It’s also very rare for a scene to contain a single colour that is filling the screen entirely so it will only become visible if you (a) have this type of scene and (b) drive the panel quite high. When neither (a) or (b) are present, then you’ll not see this effect.
It’s also worthy of note that when I’m in discussion on these forums, I say it like it is. I’m not one of these owners who thinks his product is the best and keep driving on about how good my kit is, despite opinion to the contrary. I’m currently running a projector and screen set up worth £5k that I have described on other threads as ‘satisfactory’. No better, no worse.
For my room, it’s as good as I can get for that sort of money and when I discussed the react 2 screen issues on the react thread, the other owners were jumping out in horror that I would discuss problems with the ‘holy grail’ of projector screens. When you move seats for example, shadow detail that was visible could all of a sudden become invisible due to the viewing cone and brightness drop off. Pretty clear to see and as I mentioned, I’m very sensitive to brightness uniformity. How other owners couldn’t see this was beyond me, but I made sure that I was making other members aware to watch out for it….£2k investments need to be made with eyes wide open!
So hopefully that gives you a bit of insight into the TV, how I’m using it, where I’m using it, what I’m used to and what I like and don’t like. As above, if I have something negative to say, I will say it and gladly, I’ve not a lot of negative to say about the CX700. When I moved house and lost my dedicated room with my JVC X90 projector, I thought I was saying goodbye to images that made my jaw drop. The Sony/react combo will never give me that and I was so surprised that this £850 TV was able to make my jaw hit the floor once again. I was actually hoping for a TV that gave me a ‘satisfactory’ performance, and I was so surprised to get so so much more than that from this TV in my room.
The shop material that I seen on the TV doesn’t do it justice, you really need to see the high contrast/colour performance to see it at its best. In the showroom, it looked nice and sharp (but don’t they all?) and it was only when I got it home that I really seen how good it can be. That’s why it was important for my 2 step approach to help me pick this. I read up all the general comments, the stats and combined that with looking at it in the shop. Going into Curry’s for example not armed with any other info is like throwing darts in the dark.
This is the most excited I’ve been about an AV product in a while, and I haven’t even mentioned how good the 4k football is, or how great and easy homescreen 2.0 is (a child could learn it in a minute or 2) If my budget was double what I spent on this TV and I came home with the CX700 for £1700 I would have been delighted. To have this TV for £850 is verging on the absurd. High contrast with decent viewing angles and high brightness in the one package is something I didn’t think was possible, but actually, Panasonic are truly on the right path to putting plasma TV’s into history. I’m already looking to the year ahead and what comes next, and if the CX700 and CX802 are anything to go by, the next batch of Panasonic TV’s are going to be off the charts good. I can’t wait to see them!
Panasonic TX-50CX700B User Review
Excellent value for moneyReview of Panasonic TX-50CX700B tv by soupdragon, Aug 4, 2015.This item was purchased for £849 from Currys in 2015. The reviewer still owns this product.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level10
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality7
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use10
Value for Money10