Panasonic TX-58AX802 Review

Sections

Pros

  • Excellent native 4K and upscaled HD picture quality
  • Decent value
  • Excellent smart interface

Cons

  • Care needs to be taken with contrast-related settings
  • Native black levels not as deep as some rivals
  • Occasional artefact from local dimming

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £2350.00
  • 58-inch LCD TV with edge LED lighting
  • Native 4K/UHD resolution
  • Studio Master Colour panel design
  • Multimedia playback via DLNA and USB
  • Customisable My Home Screen interface

What is the Panasonic TX-58AX802?

The 58AX802 is a 58-inch UHD

TV boasting Panasonic’s top-of-the-line Smart TV facilities, active 3D

playback, edge LED lighting with local dimming, full support for 4K at

60fps via HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort connection options, and a wide colour

gamut panel. Thanks to a welcome, if belated, firmware update it also

supports Netflix UHD playback.

Panasonic TX-58AX802: Design and Features

The

58AX802 is one of the most solidly built flat TVs we’ve ever

manhandled. The screen’s constructed like the proverbial brick outhouse,

while the stand, remarkably, feels even heavier.

The stand’s

weight is understandable given that the 58AX802’s striking design

requires the screen to sit more on the front of the stand than on top of

it, requiring some serious counterbalancing. But it certainly makes

shifting the TV about once you’ve put it and the stand together pretty

much impossible.

SEE ALSO: Best 4K TVs Roundup
Panasonic 58AX802
That

‘striking design’ we mentioned finds the screen sitting atop a

full-width open rectangular bottom edge, which cunningly looks like it’s

providing all the support rather than the far less glamorous chunk of

heftiness hidden around the back.

The frame around the 58AX802’s

58-inch screen is reasonably though not remarkably thin, with a

high-quality gloss black finish offset by a cute silver trim. There’s a

little pop-up camera behind the centre of the top edge, too, for Skype

calls or enabling the TV to recognise who’s using it.

Connections

are extensive. The main points of interest from a video point of view

are its four HDMIs and, unusually, a DisplayPort. The DisplayPort is

there because this connection – typically only found in the PC world –

is much more adept than HDMI at handling data-heavy UHD streams. Only

one of the 58AX802’s HDMIs – number 4 – is able to take 4K/60p images,

which is a bit of a shame. Though having said that, it’ll probably be a

while before you’re able to get your hands on two 4K/60p sources…

The

58AX802 is also rich in multimedia connections. There are integrated

Wi-Fi and LAN options for getting your TV online or sharing content from

and to networked DLNA computers and smart devices. Plus there’s a trio

of USBs for playing back video, photo and music files from USB storage

devices or recording material from the built-in Freeview and Freesat

tuners to USB HDDs.

SEE ALSO: Best TVs Roundup
Panasonic 58AX802
These

tuners are twin ones, too, meaning that you could record something from

one channel while watching another, or stream one channel to a second

screen such as a tablet while watching another channel on the main TV.

Thanks to Panasonic’s new TV Anywhere feature you can even stream a

broadcast or USB recording over the internet for viewing on a registered

Smart Device anywhere in the world. Excellent.

Another ‘smart’

highlight of the 58AX802 is its Freetime system, a brilliantly simple

electronic programme guide that lets you watch catch-up TV and scroll

back as well as forward through time. Plus there’s a new My Stream

system with an attractive tiled ‘ribbon’ menu and links to content the

TV thinks you’ll like based on your viewing history.

All of the

smart features are partnered by Panasonic’s straightforward and

impressively customisable My Home Screen interface. For more details on

Panasonic’s impressive smart offering this year, check out our dedicated feature.

The

58AX802’s picture features are dominated, inevitably, by its native

UHD/4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. But resolution is only part of

the TV picture quality story, so it’s great to find all those extra

pixels backed up by Panasonic’s new, ultra-powerful ‘Hexa 4K’ and

‘Studio Master Drive’ processing systems. The latter combines a powerful

3D colour-management system and a Black Gradation Drive that

continually adds lighting compensation to dark image areas to boost

colour gradations and shadow details in these traditionally troublesome

areas.

The panel’s edge LED lighting system, meanwhile, is driven

by a local dimming engine that can adjust the light output for

different segments of the LEDs individually to boost contrast.
Panasonic 58AX802
While

discussing contrast, it’s important to stress that the 58AX802 doesn’t

use one of the IPS-type LCD panels that have proved so problematic this

year. This fact is immediately revealed even before checking out any

dark content by the fact that the screen employs the active 3D system.

IPS panels almost always use the passive system.

Panasonic backs up the 58AX802’s 3D playback by including two pairs of active shutter glasses with the TV.

Also

helping the 58AX802’s panel stand out from the crowd is Panasonic’s

Studio Master Colour technology, which uses LEDs capable of delivering a

wider colour space than the usual TV LEDs to provide an expanded colour

palette. What’s particularly intriguing about this is that, as well as

delivering a generally wider colour space, the Studio Master Colour

system has the potential to overcome LCD’s usual problems rendering rich

and believable colour tones in dark scenes.

A couple of further

features connected to the 58AX802’s pictures are a ‘2000Hz’ motion

processing system to tackle the LCD motion blur that can be so

distracting when watching native UHD content, and the eye-catching

endorsement of the set’s picture performance by the independent THX

organisation.

This endorsement comes with a pair of THX picture

presets, which are joined by two ‘ISF presets’ that an Imaging Science

Foundation representative could use for storing picture settings

professionally calibrated to suit your specific room conditions.

Panasonic TX-58AX802: Set Up

The

58AX802 does an unusually good job of guiding you through initial

installation, with clear menus and descriptions and even a spoken-word

tutorial of how to set up and use the My Home Screen interface. The only

catch is that, as with the 50AX802

we reviewed, we had a few issues getting the TV’s wireless system to

connect properly to our network after performing the system software

update that the TV requested during the initial install. The only fix

appears to be completely unplugging the set for a while.
Panasonic 58AX802
When

it comes to getting the best out of the 58AX802’s pictures, you need to

be fairly careful with how you set things up. The main focus of your

adjustments is to get the rich black levels the TV’s contrast tools make

possible, without making the workings of those contrast tools

distractingly obvious. And our main tips for achieving this are as

follows…

Firstly, keep the backlight setting down to between its 55 and 65

setting (depending on light levels in your room), and set contrast to

around its 80 level to reduce the potential for picture noise. Then use

the Adaptive Backlight Control option on its Mid level rather than the

low setting we’d normally recommend for such features, and use the

Letterbox Dimmer feature, as this cleverly hides the backlight

disruption you can otherwise see when watching films with 2.35/2.4:1

aspect ratios. Try using the Brilliance enhancer feature, but only on its

lowest power setting.

Finally, regarding settings not related to

contrast, make sure you turn off noise reduction for all native UHD

content and, we’d argue, upscaled HD, and use the Intelligent Frame

Creation motion compensation processing on either its Mid (for TV) or

Low (for movies) setting. Film purists may prefer to leave the IFC

system off, but we’d suggest that the processing is assured enough on

this TV to at least warrant a trial run. You might be pleasantly

surprised.

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