FLATSCREEN 4K TV PERFORMANCE - PANASONIC VIERA AX800
The AX800 exhibited very good color accuracy out of the box, helped no doubt by its excellent grayscale tracking. Panasonic has apparently designed this TV for critical watching, which is not hard to deduce from the pro-sounding pictures modes like Cinema, THX (Cinema and Bright Room), Professional 1, and Professional 2. The THX modes have a gamma response of about 2.2, the widely used standard for TV and film. The two Professional modes went close to 2.4, and both are excellent choices if you prefer a more contrasty image. Either way, the AX800 has a good suite of color management controls (including ISF controls), so it’s not hard for well-equipped users to get near reference results.
In terms of black level response, the AX800 performance was as good as the Samsung HU8500, especially when the lowest Adaptive Backlight Control (which controls local dimming) was engaged. A letterbox dimming mode, akin to the Cinema Black setting we saw on Samsung’s flagship curved TV but not on the HU8500, darkened the top and black bars even further. All little details that should delight enthusiasts who are buying this TV for dark room viewing.
All in all, image quality-wise, the AX800 hardly faltered regardless of the content we threw at it. Superman Returns still looked mighty good after upscaling, and the slight noise we observed in some dark scenes are inherent of the movie rather than the fault of the TV. There was a bit of dirty screen effect, though we think most people won’t notice it.
Interestingly, the TV has a ‘1080p Pixel by 4pixels’ mode for making 1080p images look good on a 4K display, but we found differences (vs. upscaling) to be minor after staring at the Blu-ray version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 for a good hour. Motion resolution was also high, thanks to Panasonic’s well-implemented frame creation tech; and 3D images looked vibrant, and suffered slightly less crosstalk than the Samsung set.
Minute banding aside, the AX800 has excellent upscaling and black level response.
The tons of professional controls will delight advanced users.