Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B review

Stylish, well specified and at a price that doesn’t seem an overly risky investment, Panasonic's CX802 merits serious short-listing. Build quality is excellent. Just 46mm thin, the panel is framed by a metallic bezel with a stylish chamfered edge. A half-moon pedestal stand leaves only two chromed feet visible. See also: 4K and UHD explained.

Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B review: price

The screen comes in four variants. The version reviewed here is the 50-inch TX-50CX802B, which costs £1,299, but it’s also available in 40-, 55- and 65-inch screens sizes.

(Prices correct at time of review)

40in model: TX-40CX802B - £899 from John Lewis

50in model: TX-50CX802B - £1,169 from John Lewis

55in model: TX-55CX802B - £1,529 from John Lewis

65in model: TX-65CX802B - £2,429 from John Lewis

See also: Best smart TV deals

The set features just three HDMI inputs, but all support HDCP 2.2. There’s also a trio of USBs, Scart and component AV for legacy kit, Ethernet LAN, a digital optical audio output and SD card slot. Dual-band Wi-Fi is integrated. The set also comes with two remote controllers. One IR, the other a Bluetooth trackpad. The set has both Freesat and Freeview tuners, offering both Freesat freetime and Freeview Play roll-back programme EPGs.

Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B review

In addition, the CX802 also sports the new Firefox OS, which is a minimalistic joy to use, with Quad Core processor. An Info Frame offers viewing recommendations, notifications, weather and web clips, accessible by the direction key. Just press for the Info Bar, and it slides into view. Key apps include Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube, plus catch-up from all four main broadcasters. Both Netflix and Amazon apps are 4K capable, confirming the presence of an HEVC decoder.

Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B review

Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B review: performance

2160p image quality is outstanding. There’s a richness to its images lacking on cheaper sets. High contrast, superbly nuanced colours and voluminous detail make streamed 4K look outstanding. At the heart of the TX-50CX802B is Panasonic’s 4K Studio Master Processing chip shop. 2160p pictures are hugely detailed and dynamic, while the screen’s black level is performance class leading. Often a failing of edge-lit screens, but here made a strength, backlight uniformity is high.

The usual picture presets are bolstered by a variety of THX modes for dark room movie watching. However these don’t always work well in the average living room. THX Bright Room is a good compromise, but Normal is generally the best all-round option.

IFC (Intelligent Frame Creation) is best kept on its minimum setting. The screen is also reputedly firmware upgradable to support HDR (High Dynamic Range) content, which will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.

If the set does has a weakness it’s in its limited backlight control. The Dynamic Backlight adjustment is crude, causing bright halos around light sources in dark scenes. Uma Thurman’s live burial in Kill Bill Vol 2 (Blu-ray) looks strangely overlit.

The screen does a fabulous job upscaling Full HD, particularly Blu-ray, to 4K UHD. The set is Active Shutter 3D capable, and performs well. Tangled (Blu-ray) reveals some crosstalk double imaging, but the presentation is engrossing.

Given that this set has a largely hidden sound system, performance is good. There’s certainly enough volume (40W) to hold your attention.

Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B: Specs

  • 50­inch LCD TV
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • 2x Freeview HD, 2x Freesat tuner
  • Freeview Play + Freesat Freetime roll­back EPG
  • 40W (10 x 4W) audio system
  • 3 x HDMI 2.0, SCART/component (YPbPr)
  • stereo phono audio input
  • digital optical audio output
  • SD card slot with 4K playback, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 10/100 ethernet, 2.4 / 5.0 GHz 802.11 Wi­Fi built­in/Wi­Fi Direct
  • screen mirroring
  • 3 x USB
  • HEVC decoder
  • Rated power consumption: 189W (88W average)
  • 1121 x 652 x 46 mm (whd, w/o stand)
  • 18kg
  • 50­inch LCD TV
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • 2x Freeview HD, 2x Freesat tuner
  • Freeview Play + Freesat Freetime roll­back EPG
  • 40W (10 x 4W) audio system
  • 3 x HDMI 2.0, SCART/component (YPbPr)
  • stereo phono audio input
  • digital optical audio output
  • SD card slot with 4K playback, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 10/100 ethernet, 2.4 / 5.0 GHz 802.11 Wi­Fi built­in/Wi­Fi Direct
  • screen mirroring
  • 3 x USB
  • HEVC decoder
  • Rated power consumption: 189W (88W average)
  • 1121 x 652 x 46 mm (whd, w/o stand)
  • 18kg

OUR VERDICT

Overall, we rate the TX50-CX802 a superior 4K panel that is both fun to live with (Firefox rivals LG’s webOS for stylish simplicity), while combined Netflix/Amazon UHD app support offers up a surprising amount of 4K content. The set looks great with both UHD and upscaled HD. Consider this one of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs of the year.