Pana­sonic TX-58DX802

FOR Fine 4K pic­ture and sound make up for its awk­ward stand AGAINST Im­prac­ti­cal stand; lacks dark de­tail; bet­ter ri­vals

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

If you have ever been shop­ping for a big TV, you may have no­ticed that there tends to be less choice at this end of the mar­ket. Quite of­ten the de­ci­sion comes down to ei­ther a 55in or 65in screen, which is rather like pick­ing be­tween size nine or ten shoes when the half size would be a bet­ter fit.

But thank­fully, Pana­sonic has come up with a so­lu­tion – the pre­vi­ously lit­tle­known 58in screen. This one is part of its Viera DX802 range, which sits un­derneath the flag­ship DX902 mod­els and, de­spite the rel­a­tively mod­est size and price, ticks both the 4K and HDR boxes.

But the spec­i­fi­ca­tions aren't the main talk­ing point of this tele­vi­sion. Pana­sonic has po­si­tioned the TX 58DX802, quite lit­er­ally, as a work of art. The dis­tinc­tive stand – in­spired, Pana­sonic says, by fur­ni­ture de­sign – looks more like an artist’s easel. Or a child’s swing frame.

Though beau­ti­ful to look at, the stand also proves to be rather im­prac­ti­cal. Any at­tempts to flip the screen over or tilt it for bet­ter view­ing an­gles will at best re­sult in fail­ure, or at the very worst, a bro­ken TV on its back. Al­though the de­sign looks as though it should swing, the stand merely holds the screen in place, just like any other.

In fact the whole struc­ture feels as if it has been de­signed with the in­ten­tion of stand­ing out on the show­room floor. Un­less you in­tend to wall mount the TX 58DX802 (with­out the stand of course), the floor is where you may well have to put it, for the stand – around 137cm wide – won’t even fit on a dou­ble-width rack.

Th­es­pian skills

That could pose a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem for any­one short on space, but while it's not the most prac­ti­cal de­sign it does have a dis­tin­guished el­e­gance about it. The metal bezel that frames the slen­der Dvd-coverdeep panel is very much in-line with the stand, as is the tra­di­tional brushed metal re­mote and smart wand.

Com­plet­ing the telly’s sleek sil­ver aes­thetic is the slim sil­ver-clothed sound­bar or, as Pana­sonic calls it, the ‘12 Train Pris­matic Speaker’. The num­ber 12 re­fers to its speaker count: two tweet­ers, four mid-range driv­ers and six woofers. Tuck­ing be­neath the screen and be­tween the stand’s legs, it plugs into the telly’s ded­i­cated socket next to its four HDMI and three USB in­puts, and looks like an aes­thetic ex­ten­sion to the screen.

The 40W sound­bar is not only ca­pa­ble of a sound louder and more pow­er­ful than we’ve come to ex­pect from stan­dard built-in TV speak­ers, but clearer and more solid too. Rarely do we hear the Count­down theme sound­ing so dra­matic through a TV. Of course, you’ll reap the ben­e­fits when watch­ing some­thing slightly more th­es­pian. With Fu­ri­ous 7, revving cars have weight and ex­plo­sions im­pact, while Vin Diesel’s voice also gives the woofers a work­out.

Al­though a midrange sound­bar like the Q Acous­tics Me­dia 4 will more ef­fec­tively bring sound­tracks to life with greater dy­nam­ics and de­tail, there’s no deny­ing that a sound­bar is a valu­able in­clu­sion to the all-in-one set-up here.

Plas­tic uni­for­mity

Pana­sonic’s new ‘Cinema Dis­play’ panel in the TX 58DX802 isn’t UHD Premi­um­cer­ti­fied like the flag­ship DX902 mod­els, but whether it can of­fi­cially reach 1000-nits bright­ness and pro­duce 90 per cent of the DCI P3 colour stan­dard or not, we like what we see as we stream Red Oaks from Ama­zon in 4K and HDR.

The pic­ture goes brighter than you’d ever need it, even in the light­est of rooms, and

"Spec­i­fi­ca­tions aren't the main talk­ing point of this tele­vi­sion, though. Pana­sonic has po­si­tioned the TX-58DX802, quite lit­er­ally, as a work of art"

colours punch like they’re be­ing egged on. It’s worth knock­ing both down to mod­est lev­els, though, so grass looks lush and not like newly laid As­tro­turf, and coun­try club signs don’t look overly re­gal.

Mo­tion is well han­dled as golf bug­gies dart across parks, and de­tail is, largely, lib­er­ally spread from cor­ner to cor­ner. We say largely be­cause it strug­gles to match ri­vals for dark de­tail. In darker scenes, Craig Roberts’ black hair has an un­re­al­is­tic sheen and, with the Pana­sonic over­look­ing in­di­vid­ual strands, it tends to re­sem­ble the plas­tic uni­for­mity of a Lego man’s bar­net.

The Samsung UE55KS9000 is shrewder in this re­spect, strik­ing a bet­ter bal­ance be­tween black depth and in­sight into darks, and simultaneously manag­ing greater sub­tlety in shad­ing elsewhere too.

Puts in a shi

Still, the po­tency of black lev­els is pleas­ing, and at the other end of the con­trast band ten­nis whites, clean and sparkling, look fit for a wash­ing pow­der TV ad­vert.

The sharp­ness, and with it clean­li­ness, 4K res­o­lu­tion of­fers is even more ap­par­ent with Ul­tra HD Blu-rays as we switch to The Mar­tian. Con­trast steps up a gear, the Pana’s pen­cil goes a few more turns through the sharp­ener, and count­ing how many shades make up one frame of Mars’ land­scape requires two hands.

Even Blu-ray – even one as lame as Fu­ri­ous 7 – looks fetch­ing. Sure, there is a sig­nif­i­cant but not en­tirely un­ex­pected drop in qual­ity when you come back down to pre-2015 TV qual­ity: 1080p res­o­lu­tion and stan­dard dy­namic range. But the TX 58DX802’S up­scaler puts in a killer shift to en­sure the pic­ture re­mains en­joy­able and just as co­her­ent. We should say though that the Samsung UE55KS9000 not only puts in a shift, but also works over­time for a tad more crisp­ness and sta­bil­ity.

When the TV tuner is called upon for the evening soaps, knock­ing down colour sat­u­ra­tion a wee bit more is worth the effort. High- and stan­dard-def­i­ni­tion broad­casts are both per­fectly watch­able al­though, as on all big-screen 4K tel­lies we’ve seen, the lat­ter is nev­er­the­less tainted with noise and soft­ness. The les­son to be learned here is that, where pos­si­ble, you should stick to high-def­i­ni­tion con­tent – of which there is plenty em­bed­ded into the TX 58DX802’S smart of­fer­ing.

At the cen­tre of these of­fer­ings are the full suite of UK catch-up TV apps, in­clud­ing Net­flix and Ama­zon In­stant. The lat­ter ap­pears twice in fact (not that you need it to): in­di­vid­u­ally on the home page and also buried within Free­view Play, which like Youview hud­dles the stream­ing ser­vices and a com­pre­hen­sive roll-back EPG un­der one um­brella.

Our love for Pana­sonic’s Fire­fox-pow­ered OS is no se­cret, and its sim­ple nav­i­ga­tion and cus­tomi­sa­tion wins us over once again as we pain­lessly and swiftly flit be­tween pic­ture set­tings and smart apps. What’s more, Pana­sonic says up­dates later this year will bring greater Tv-op­ti­mised con­tent and eas­ier shar­ing be­tween portable de­vices and the TV.

Jack-of-all-trades

By be­ing one of the eas­i­est and most fully-fea­tured TVS to op­er­ate, and by set­ting it­self apart from the com­pe­ti­tion with above-par sound and in­ter­est­ing (al­beit not the most prac­ti­cal) de­sign, the Pana­sonic TX 58DX802 is no doubt an at­trac­tive jack-of-all-trades op­tion for those that can house it – even if straight-up pic­ture purists may be bet­ter off shop­ping elsewhere.

The TX-58DX802 of­fers 4K and HDR for a mod­est price, but its main talk­ing point is still that dis­tinc­tive stand

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