The top segment at Panasonic is entirely occupied by OLED models. The Panasonic TX-55HXW944 is their best LCD model. With the same processor as the OLED models, local dimming Dolby Vision and HDR10 +, it certainly seems well equipped. How does he do it in our tests?
Note; this review is from the Dutch model. In Belgium this model is called TX-55HX940.
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – specifications
- What: Ultra HD LCD TV (Edge LED with local dimming 8 × 1 zones)
- Screen size: 55 inch (138 cm ), flat
- Connections: 4x HDMI (4x v2.0, ARC, ALLM), 1x component video, 1x composite video, 1x stereo cinch, 1x optical digital out, 3x USB (1x 3.0), 1x headphones (or subwoofer) ), 3x antenna, Bluetooth
- Extras: HDR10, HDR10 +, Dolby Vision, HLG, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, My Home Screen 5.0, USB / DLNA media player, dual DVB-T2 / C / S2, dual CI + – slot, HCX Pro processor
- Dimensions: 1,231 x772 x 272 mm (incl. foot)
- Weight: 19.0 kg (incl. foot)
- Consumption: 85 / 0.3 watt (Energy label A +)  List price: 1,199 euros
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – Design
A slim profile, a discreet black brushed frame, and two small feet. This Panasonic HXW944 is especially eye-catching because of its simple but beautiful and good finish.
The back has a rough texture like a camera grip, it gives it just that little bit of a luxurious look. The feet are very small and can be mounted in two different places. So you can choose a wide or narrow footprint.
You just slide the feet into the device until they click into place, screws are not needed. However, what we noticed is that the feet have quite a bit of play when they are in place. And although the TV is sturdy enough, it still gives a somewhat cheap impression if you touch it and the whole construction moves. A plastic cable tray with cover is provided on the back of both feet.
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – Connections
We find four HDMI connections (two on the side, two on the back). They are all HDMI 2.0 connections ready for the best Ultra HD HDR signals. In addition to ARC, they only offer ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode).
Furthermore, there are three USB connections, a component video input with stereo cinch, and an optical digital output. The headphone jack can also be used to connect a subwoofer to the TV. You can connect wireless headphones via Bluetooth. Finally, there are wired and wireless network and three antenna connections. Please note that some of the connectors face back and can therefore be tricky for wall mounting.
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – Ease of Use and Smart TV
Installation of the TX-55HXW944 is very simple and self-explanatory . My Home Screen, the smart TV environment from Panasonic, is already at version 5.0. What has changed compared to last year?
The start screen was further simplified. You will still see some tiles at the bottom of the screen, but there are no more different rows of tiles that you can reach with the arrow keys, everything is now in one row. Instead, some tiles (like Netflix or YouTube) now show a second bar above it once you select the tile. Recommendations will then appear. We already know that approach from Samsung and LG, it is probably no coincidence that all manufacturers are going in the same direction.
By clicking down on an icon you can change the order or remove an icon. You can add icons by “pinning” them via the option button when the app or input is selected. Panasonic has saved the handy categories Devices Apps and Live TV, where you can find everything that is not pinned on the Home screen. An icon is now also included to go to the settings from the Home screen, but it seems much easier to us to just use the button on the remote control. My Home Screen works very smoothly, and intuitively.
The settings menu is extremely long, and that remains something that we think a better organization would make it clearer. Anyone who has to look for some setting will sometimes get lost.
Panasonic has not changed its remote for several years. It is a sturdy, fairly large remote control with large and clearly labeled keys that fits well in the hand.
Two useful tips are the “My App” button and the “Picture” button. My App is at the bottom left, you can assign that button to an app of your choice in the app store, for example YouTube. The “Picture” key is located at the top left of the on / off key. With this button you can quickly switch image mode. In addition, you can configure which picture modes appear in the list via the menus (Menu, Picture, Settings Button ‘Picture’.
The HXW944 series has a double TV tuner for digital TV (DVB-T2). / C / S2) and a double CI + lock. So you can watch TV and record another channel at the same time. You can cast YouTube and Netflix to the TV. The built-in media player refuses all our Dolby Vision samples and does not play DTS soundtracks. Furthermore, however, it is very complete both on video level (with subtitles) and on audio level. Unfortunately, the audio player only reads tag information from MP3 files.
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – Image processing
The HXW944 series is the only LCD model from Panasonic that also received the HCX Pro image processor. It delivers excellent performance on the OLED models, and you can expect those results on this model. Excellent deinterlacing makes jagged edges very exceptional, important for live TV that is often broadcast in 1080i. It eliminates random noise very well, and you can also counteract compression noise (blocking), although you have to set the MPEG noise reduction to “Middle”. Since the minimum setting has a very light effect for both settings, we recommend leaving it activated. The processor can hide light color bands well, which is also covered by the MPEG noise reduction. Because the image seems very soft, we increased the sharpness to a maximum of 50, and activate “Remaster resolution” in the “Middle” position. This gives you some extra detail and very good upscaling results.
The HXW944 is the only LCD model with a 100Hz panel. The motion sharpness is quite good, but certainly not exceptional. Leave Intelligent Frame Creation at Minimum to ensure maximum detail in fast-moving images. With “Sharp Movements” you win a little bit extra, but it costs you some clarity and shows a double contour around a moving object here and there. We therefore prefer the “Off” mode.
Here’s an explanation of the main picture settings and tips for setting up your TV.
|Picture Mode: True Cinema
Backlight: 20-80 *
|Ambient Sensor: Off / On
Noise Reduction: Min
MPEG Remastering: Min
Resolution Remastering: Middle
Dynamic Remaster Range: Off
Intelligent Frame Creation: Minimum
Sharp Movements: Off
|Contrast Control: Off / Auto
Gamma: 2.4 Picture Settings
Aspect Ratio: 16: 9 Image Scan: Off
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – Image Quality
This HXW944 Series LCD TV uses an IPS panel and an edge LED backlight with local dimming.
The backlight is divided into 8 columns, Panasonic controls them very carefully and avoids that you have obvious segments running. Of course that also limits the impact on the contrast, but since a glowing column in a dark image would be extremely disturbing, this is the right approach. The IPS panel has a very poor ANSI contrast of 675: 1, which is hardly affected by the local dimming (680: 1). In our other test pattern we get about 1280: 1 with local dimming. So there are no extremely deep black values, and you notice that. Dark images appear relatively pale. Some black detail is also lost. After some experimentation with the Adaptive Backlight Control, the Middle and even the Max setting seems to perform slightly better with dark images, with more contrast and black detail. That was perfectly visible on the Harry Potter and Gravity test scene. Even subtitles hardly disturb the picture.
The screen has excellent uniformity and shows very nice images in the “True Cinema” picture mode. The backlight is very low, we recommend pulling it to 60-80 and possibly activating the light sensor. The calibration is very good, the gray scale is perfectly neutral. The gamma value is 2.4 for film on eclipse, you can optionally bring that to 2.2 in the settings. The color reproduction is very natural, only some red tones are a bit too strong, and you can sometimes see that in skin tones. Without a reference, however, this will not be noticed. This Panasonic shows its best side in bright colorful images.
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – HDR
Panasonic decided last year to support all major HDR standards a decision we very much applaud. The HXW944 series also supports HDR10, HLG, HD10 + and Dolby Vision.
But the basic performance is relatively modest. The peak luminance on a 10% window comes out at 410 nits, which is below the 500 nits limit we set for clear HDR impact. We achieve the same maximum on a completely white field. Due to the local dimming, small bright details can also lose a lot of brightness.
The color range also hardly scores insufficient. We aim for 90% DCI-P3 but the Panasonic achieves 85% DCI-P3 and 62% Rec. 2020. The color calibration is excellent, so that the color range is used optimally.
The Panasonic HXW944 shows slightly more white detail than necessary. If the metadata indicates a 1000 nits maximum, white detail up to more than 1600 nits is still visible. The tone mapping also makes the image less clear than is possible. We already saw that approach on the GX800 last year. HDR images mastered to a maximum of 4,000 nits or higher are always a little too faded and less colorful than expected. Dolby Vision has a clear added value here because it stores the rich colors and white detail much better. We therefore recommend in HDR10 to activate the “Dynamic HDR Effect” setting. This creates a dynamic tone mapping in real time. However, the effect is less pronounced than we saw last year. The bright parts of the image gain light, and color reproduction is slightly better. But where we saw that impact quite clearly last year, it is much less pronounced this year.
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – Gaming, Reflections and Viewing Angles
The IPS panel has a good viewing angle, especially for colors. For contrast, the viewing angle is slightly more limited but still fine. The screen is slightly bothered by reflections, which it sometimes spreads quite wide on the screen. In the True Cinema image mode, the input lag is 122.1ms, which is a lot. In game mode it drops to 15ms, a very good result even for demanding gamers.
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – Sound quality
This Panasonic TX-55HXW944 is at the top in the middle class, which is why we had hoped for decent sound. In the specifications we find support for DolbyAtmos, but only a very modest 2x 10W system. After our listening tests, the conclusion is clear. Good performance for dialogues, very poor for music and film. This is mainly due to the modest volume. As soon as you ask too much of the system, the TV intervenes and limits the dynamics of certain frequencies, presumably to prevent audible distortion. We see (hear) that approach more often, but on this model you really should not set the volume too high. Strangely, there is no “Movie” preset either. You can use the ‘User’ preset for this, activate ‘bass-boost’, and set ‘Surround’ to ‘Cinema Surround’.
For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter . For all other measurements, we rely on a Spectracal C6 HDR2000 Colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, a VideoForge Pro pattern generator, and the Spectracal Calman for Business software. To analyze any HDR problems, we use an HDFury Vertex.
Panasonic TX-55HXW944 – Conclusion
For a device that is situated in the upper middle class, the audio performance of the HXW944 series is rather mediocre. The IPS panel provides moderate contrast, so deep black should not be on your wishlist. Brightness and color gamut are just enough for HDR, but the real impact is missing.
The HCX Pro processor does make up for some of those shortcomings. The limited local dimming is cleverly used to improve contrast and this Panasonic HXW944 is at its best in clear images. The accurate colors provide natural and attractive images, and in many cases the HDR display is very handsome. Dolby Vision and HDR10 + are also strong assets in that respect. We see the TX-55HXW944 as a great candidate for those looking for a good TV for the whole family. The renewed My Home Screen 5 is simpler and therefore even more accessible.