Panasonic TX-58AX802: 3D Picture Quality
The 58AX802 success story mostly continues with its 3D playback. Detail levels are exceptional – not least because using an active 3D system means the 58AX802 has to actually upscale today’s HD 3D Blu-rays to UHD. But this upscaled detailing nearly always looks natural despite the colossal challenges involved with making processing fast and powerful enough to keep up with active 3D’s high frame rates.
It’s a relief, too, to find the 58AX802 suffering with less brightness reduction once you’ve got the 3D glasses on than we customarily see with Panasonic 3D TVs – a fact that ensures colours still look dynamic and rich.
The set is still able to produce good contrast without sacrificing brightness with 3D – an ability which helps it produce a profound but also believable sense of 3D space no matter how difficult the content.
Having recently enjoyed a totally crosstalk-free 3D experience courtesy of the LG 65UB980V, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that you do sometimes see traces of telltale double ghosting in the 58AX802’s 3D images. However, its occurrences are reasonably rare and relatively subtle, so some may consider them a fair price to pay for the 58AX802’s enormous detail levels.
The only other negative thing we might say is that 58 inches is only just big enough to deliver a truly immersive 3D experience. But that’s just us being fussy, really.
Panasonic TX-58AX802: Sound Quality
In any other year the 58AX802’s audio would probably have struck us as good. There’s certainly much to admire in the amount of detail revealed from a rich movie mix, and the scale of the set’s soundstage impresses, stretching comfortably beyond the confines of its physical boundaries without losing cohesion.
Voices are always clear and foregrounded as well, and the set sometimes hits some startlingly deep bass levels.
However, the sound doesn’t project forward with as much aggression as recent audio stars from Sony (the X9005Bs) and LG (the UB980Vs), and there’s a limit to the volumes you can hit before things start to sound noticeably constrained and even a little distorted.
Other points to consider
The 58AX802 ships with two remote controls: an unusually effective standard one, and a small ‘smart’ one equipped with a trackpad and much-reduced button count.
Unfortunately we continue to struggle with this smart remote. We don’t like the way you have to tap the touchpad to select an option, and also struggle with both the touchpad’s counter-intuitive circular shape and seemingly inconsistent level of responsiveness.
Gaming on the 58AX802 is great fun. As well as the many game-friendly picture advantages discussed already, we measured input lag on the set – using its Game mode with pretty much every bit of picture processing turned off – at just 26ms on average. This is an excellent result, especially for a UHD TV.
Should I buy a Panasonic TX-58AX802?
With Netflix 4K support now confirmed for the AX802 range, it’s become hard to find reasons not to buy a 58AX802. It’s a striking TV with stellar UHD playback capabilities and one of the best – and most friendly – smart TV engines around.
There’s stiff competition in the UHD arena this year, of course – most notably from Sony’s X9005B series and Samsung’s curved HU8500 series. But at £2350 the 58AX802 is cheap enough for its size to deliver an attractive price saving over those other UHD/4K stars.
It’s a monumental relief that Panasonic has managed to work around the 58AX802’s original Netflix UHD shortcomings. For now we can finally give the set the whole-hearted recommendation it truly deserves.
Next, check out more 50inch TV reviews
Score in detail
3D Quality 9
Smart TV 9
2D Quality 9
Sound Quality 7