PANA­SONIC VIERA AX800

HWM (Singapore) - - TEST -

In 2014, Pana­sonic in­tro­duced the Life+ Screen cat­e­gory into its TV lineup. Re­served for its higher-end mod­els that typ­i­cally come with bet­ter im­age qual­ity and more pre­mium de­sign, TVs car­ry­ing this badge - such as this AX800 - also sport the com­pany’s new­est smart TV in­ter­face.

Tak­ing cen­ter stage here is My Home Screen, which as its name im­plies, is a user-cus­tom­iz­a­ble home screen for your apps and con­tent. It’s also ca­pa­ble of giv­ing you new con­tent rec­om­men­da­tions and lets you search for con­tent us­ing voice. And through the clever use of the builtin cam­era and prox­im­ity sen­sor, the screen can pop up in­for­ma­tion (e.g., time, no­ti­fi­ca­tions, weather) au­to­mat­i­cally when it de­tects you’re near. Cou­pled with things like a me­dia player that sup­ports a va­ri­ety of for­mats (in­clud­ing RMVB), easy mir­ror­ing of smart­phone or tablet images onto the screen, DLNA sup­port, and built-in Wi-Fi, Pana­sonic high-end TVs are ev­ery bit as smart as those from the two Korean gi­ants. And for what it’s worth, the AX800 has a du­al­core pro­ces­sor to keep op­er­a­tions snappy.

Of course, for a TV, im­age qual­ity is still the most im­por­tant. Pana­sonic has aban­doned the plasma tech­nol­ogy in 2013, and the AX800 (avail­able in 58 and 65-inch screen sizes) is one of the first re­sults of the com­pany’s re­newed fo­cus on LCD and 4K. Two key fea­tures here are the Stu­dio Mas­ter Color panel and Stu­dio Mas­ter Drive, which Pana­sonic says en­ables the TV to re­pro­duce deep blacks and a wide color gamut. Aided by Pana­sonic’s Lo­cal Dim­ming Pro tech (the AX800 is LED edge-lit), the com­pany is gun­ning for a plasma-like per­for­mance on an LCD TV. We shall see if it suc­ceeds in the com­ing pages.

For those in­ter­ested in the nitty-gritty, yes, the AX800 has an HDMI 2.0 port that sup­ports 4K 60/50p in­put. HDCP 2.2 and HEVC decoding, stan­dard fea­tures found on 4K TVs launched in 2014, are also on­board. If you’re look­ing for stand­out dif­fer­ences, then know that the AX800 is also THX 4K-cer­ti­fied and has a Dis­play­Port ter­mi­nal.

The AX800 is also a 3D TV, and em­ploys an ac­tive 3D sys­tem. 3D is a less promi­nently ad­ver­tised fea­ture th­ese days, but there’s also no deny­ing that 3D con­tent are much eas­ier to get than 4K con­tent. For the most part how­ever, ac­tive 3D on a 4K panel doesn’t of­fer much of a res­o­lu­tion im­prove­ment over ac­tive 3D on a 1080p set. If you’re a fan of both 4K and 3D, we rec­om­mend that you take a look at LG’s 4K TVs that use pas­sive 3D.

Good pic­ture pre­sets. Suited for both av­er­age con­sumers and pro­fes­sion­als.

Su­per-heavy stand. Only one 4K 50/60p-ca­pa­ble HDMI in­put.

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