We took a trip to Panasonic’s US headquarters to get a first look at its 2014 Ultra High Definition TVs. There are two models, the 58-inch TC-L58AX800 and the 65-inch TC-L65AX800. Both will be shipping in early May.
Panasonic withdrew from the plasma market late last year and has turned their engineering and designs toward LED LCD. The AX800s have completely new styling, a new Smart TV platform called Life+, significant picture improvements with its new Studio Master Drive and 98% DCI color, plus a THX 4K Certification. Read our hands-on impression after the jump.
The AX800’s all new cosmetic design features a very thin bezel. The traditional pedestal is now a rear-placed stand, which adds around 40 pounds for ballast, to permit the display to tilt slightly back. You can see the degree of tilt in photo below. If wall mounted, the panel remains vertical and the bottom bar and back stand are removed.
Both models in the AX800 series are edge-lit LED LCD UHDTVs (4K) with 3840 x 2160 resolution and a 120 Hz refresh rate. Panasonic also includes backlight scanning and local dimming.
Panasonic’s Life+ Smart TV system can be personalized. It’s called My Stream which allows each member of the household to have their own home page. Users are identified by the TVs built-in camera. It learns each user’s preferences and automatically recommends content.
Each TV includes 4 HDMI 2.0 inputs, 1 Display Port input, HEVC decoding, HDCP 2.2, active 3D, a 1920×1080 pop-up camera, 1 touch pad, and 1 conventional backlit remote control.
Panasonic conducted a demonstration showing how the AX800 can reproduce deep dark detail by comparing it side-by-side to last year’s top rated ZT60 plasma and last year’s UHD WT600 LED LCD. Turning all the lights off, the AX800 could reproduce a dark scene with fine detail equal to the plasma, while last year’s 4K model was mostly black. The lack of dark detail has been an issue since the first LCDs and we are pleased panel improvements appeared to have finally licked the problem bringing this important performance criterion in-line with the best plasma TVs.
Panasonic also compared the wider color reproduction of its new panel, which they claim can reproduce 98% of the Digital Cinema Color (DCI) gamut. Again, Panasonic choose head to head comparison with last year’s UHD TC-L65WT600 and ZT60 plasma. Well saturated reds were comparable to the ZT60 plasma during in the demo and far exceeding the crimson capabilty of the WT600’s LCD panel.
While like other LED LCDs the AX800 displayed some clouding (lighter areas) on letterboxed bars. There is a function that kills the LED edge lights at the top and bottom, making the clouds in those areas disappear.
We plan to test and review the AX800 in the near future. Speaking of the near future, a Panasonic spokesperson told HD Guru that their AX900 models, featuring a full-array LED backlights with local dimming, will appear in the second half of this year.
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