PANASONIC VIERA AX800
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.