We’ve already said a lot of good things about Panasonic’s OLED models, but what about the LCD models? This TX-55LXW944 leads the way in the middle class, and on paper it seems to have solid specifications.
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – specifications
|What||Ultra HD LCD TV (local dimming, 8×1)|
|Screen format||55 inches (139 cm), flat|
|Connections||4x HDMI (2x v2.1 40 Gbps, 2x v2.0 18 GBps, ARC/eARC, ALLM, 4K120, VRR, AMD Freesync), 3x USB, 1x composite video + stereo cinch in, 1x optical digital out, 1x headphone/ subwoofer, 3x antenna, 1x Ethernet, Bluetooth|
|Extras||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+ Adaptive, Dolby Atmos, Built-in WiFi, My Home Screen 7, USB/DLNA media player, dual DVB-T2/C/S2, dual CI+ slot, HCX Pro AI Processor|
|Dimensions||1,231 x 778 x 270 mm (incl. base)|
|Weight||18.5 kg (incl. base)|
|Consumption||SDR 79 (W) / HDR 167 Watts (W)|
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – Design
Many televisions nowadays offer different options when setting up. For example, you can set up this Panasonic with your feet centrally under the screen, so that it can take place on a smaller TV cabinet. Alternatively, put your feet at the end of the screen, the screen will then be higher, about six centimeters above the furniture, so that you can place a soundbar. Complicated assembly or screw work is not necessary, you simply click the feet into the device.
The design fits perfectly with what we know about Panasonic devices, a simple and sober but very solid design. The device has a small dark silver frame. In profile it is seven centimeters deep, which we find quite thick nowadays, but the screen itself is extremely slim.
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – Connections
We find the standard complement connections that we also saw on the OLED models. Specifically, two HDMI 2.0 connections and two HDMI 2.1 connections with 40Gbps bandwidth, ALLM, eARC, VRR and 4K120, three USB ports, an optical digital output and a headphone jack. The latter can also serve as a connection for an external subwoofer, provided that you switch via the menus.
A composite video input with stereo cinch is available for those who still want to connect old analog devices, while Ethernet and WiFi are available for the smart TV functions. Via Bluetooth you send audio to or from the TV. All connections point to the side or back so that they do not interfere with wall mounting.
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – Ease of use and smart TV
Panasonic now also supplies Android TV, but that is only on the LX830/LXW834 models and lower. This LXW944/LX940 is still equipped with My Home Screen 7. That means you’ll have to be content with MHS’ slightly smaller app offerings. That does provide all major international streaming services such as Netflix, Disney +, YouTube, Prime Video and Apple TV, but no HBO Max or Viaplay. As far as local offer is concerned, the Belgians are coming back from a barren journey, because they cannot find a single app. The Dutch only have to miss RTL XL and Ziggo Go.
But look, “Every disadvantage has its advantage!”. The My Home Screen interface works very smoothly, does not overload you with (not always useful) recommendations, is easy and quite extensive to personalize, and it does not fill the entire screen. The Home screen is a simple row of tiles at the bottom of the screen, in which you can store apps, external devices or live TV channels. You decide which tiles they are, and in which order they are placed.
The quick menu is a convenient way to adjust certain settings without having to go through the entire menu. You can also customize it to your own preference. The full menus are very extensive, but navigate smoothly.
The TX-55LXW944 (LXW944 series) comes with a black version of the standard Panasonic remote control that you also get with the OLED models. Panasonic plays it a little too safe in this area in our opinion. The remote control is really a bit too old-fashioned, especially with that huge amount of buttons. A more compact, more modern remote does not have to be an obstacle to ease of use.
But beyond that aspect, we are not dissatisfied with the remote. The keys feel pleasant, they require little pressure and give a clean click. There are six app shortcuts, one of which takes you to the overview of all apps. You can also assign the ‘My App’ button to your favorite app. With the ‘Picture’ button you can quickly choose a different picture mode from a list that you can compile yourself.
This mid-range car also has a double TV tuner for digital TV (DVB-T2/C/S2) with a double CI Plus slot. Anyone who wants to get rid of the set-top box for digital TV has enough with this solution and an external USB storage to watch TV quietly and record another channel in the meantime. You can cast YouTube and Netflix to the TV. If you want to give the TV a decorative function in your interior, ‘My Scenery’ can do that. It is also possible to show HDMI and live TV images together. The media player played almost all of our test files, including subtitles, except for Divx/xvid, but it doesn’t support DTS (so you can’t send it via eARC either).
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – Image processing
This Panasonic TX-55LXW944 (LXW944 series) LCD LED TV is in the line-up just below the OELD models, and still gets the excellent HCX Pro AI processor. Switch to AI Auto picture mode, and the processor identifies what you’re watching and automatically adjusts the image processing. You can determine how strong the effect is via the settings, but Panasonic generally works with a soft hand, so that over-processed images are avoided. Good deinterlacing for live TV and excellent upscaling ensure good results in any case.
If you prefer to check yourself, you can do that too. In the other image modes, you can adjust the most important functions yourself. The ‘minimum’ position is a safe choice for almost all properties, and often even the ‘middle’ position is still reasonably cautious. This is the case, for example, with the noise reduction. Just like on the OLED TVs, we notice that the processor has no solution to eliminate color bands in soft gradients. That’s one of the few downsides.
The screen has very good motion sharpness and shows a lot of detail even in fast action, with only a subtle double border here and there. That’s good news for gamers and sports enthusiasts. You can extract a little extra detail from the image by activating “Sharp Movements”. This Panasonic also has very good motion interpolation, for those who want to keep the panning movements of the camera as smooth as possible. Be sure to leave the ‘Minimum’ mode activated with Intelligent Frame Creation, but the ‘Middle’ mode is also slightly better here. The processor generally intervenes quickly and correctly.
|Picture Mode: Filmmaker Mode
Auto Brightness: On
Auto White Balance: Off
Noise Reduction: Min
MPEG Remaster: Min
Resolution Remaster: Min
Adaptive Backlight Control: Mid
Dynamic Range Remaster: OffDark Visibility Enhancer: 0Intelligent Frame Creation: Minimum
Accurate IFC: On
Insert Black Frame: Off
|Contrast Control: Off/Auto
Gamma: BT.1886 / 2.4 / 2.2 Picture Settings Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Image Scan: Off
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – Picture quality
The macro shot of the pixels points to an IPS panel, so we can immediately assume a modest contrast, but good viewing angle.
The screen of TX-55LXW944 (LXW944 series) has no dirty screen effect, and uniformity is good in both bright and dark images. This is especially important in dark images, because indeed, the ANSI contrast of 736:1 is even lower than we expected. Although the TV can dim the backlight in zones, it only has eight columns for this. That is too little to influence the ANSI contrast, although we do see that other contrast patterns have improved to 3,500:1.
Panasonic is careful with the dimming, a good choice, because with so few zones an aggressive dimming approach would cause very visible zone boundaries. The downside is that the contrast gain is quite limited in many images. The dark test fragments from Harry Potter or Gravity show a clear gain when we activate local dimming, but you should definitely not expect a really deep black from this screen.
Choose the Filmmaker Mode, and set the ‘Illuminance’ to 80 otherwise it will be very dark. The calibration is very good, the particularly accurate color reproduction ensures very natural-looking images. The darkest shades in the gray scale tend to blue, but that didn’t bother me. Only in the black detail do we notice that some nuances are lost. An option to improve that can be found in the ‘Dark Visibility Enhancer’. This makes a lot of nuances visible, but given the moderate contrast, you really shouldn’t exaggerate (don’t go higher than 3). After all, by boosting the shadow tones too much, you risk worsening the contrast perception.
The light sensor can intervene on both brightness and color temperature, but we recommend only varying the brightness.
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – HDR
This Panasonic TX-55LXW944 (LXW944 series) LCD LED TV also supports HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive. Dolby Vision in particular is a great added value on devices in this category. With limited contrast and brightness, things can sometimes go wrong in HDR10 tone mapping, and a Dolby Vision version guarantees a better result. Panasonic does have good credentials, so we also hope for good results for HDR10.
The peak brightness is fine, we measured 590 nits on the 10% window and on the completely white screen. But the local dimming does pull the brightness down on smaller windows. On the 2% window, for example, that falls back to 130 nits, although it can peak to 195 nits. This is understandable given the moderate contrast results. Small accents of light against a dark background would otherwise completely dilute the black in HDR.
The color range , on the other hand, scores surprisingly modestly, with 80% P3 and 59% Rec.2020. Deep, intense HDR colors will therefore be less noticeable.
We opt for the Filmmaker Mode in HDR , and Panasonic shows that it can also achieve good results in this category. The tone mapping makes the image a bit too bright, and clips a tiny bit of white detail, but otherwise shows all nuances very nicely. There’s a lot of black detail, mainly due to the lackluster contrast, but it does make dark HDR images easier to view in an average bright living room. The tone mapping takes HDR10 metadata into account, but cannot prevent very clear mastered images from losing some color intensity. All the more reason to keep ‘Dynamic HDR Effect’ activated, so that more color remains in the picture, even if this is at the expense of a minimum of white detail.
Gaming, Reflections and viewing angles
The screen has a wide viewing angle, especially for colors. For contrast, the typical IPS glare can be a bit tricky. Reflections should also be avoided as much as possible.
The input lag is 17 ms in 4K60 and 8.0 ms in 2K120, which is more than good enough for even avid gamers. The device supports HDMI VRR, AMD Freesync and also Nvidia Gsync. The latter is not on the official specification list, but there is an NVIDIA Auto Game Mode in the menus. You can quickly adjust a number of settings and request image information via the Game Bar.
You have to take into account two limitations. Dolby Vision is limited to 4K60, it cannot be combined with 4K120. And those using a soundbar or other external audio solution will have to sacrifice one of the HDMI 2.1 ports as it offers ARC/eARC.
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – Sound quality
With mid-range devices, good audio is the exception rather than the rule, so our expectations are not too high in that area. The 2x 15 Watt configuration may be the same as on the LZW984 , the performance is in any case somewhat comparable. Good results for dialogues, and soft music. But very little bass, and when you ask for too much volume, the processor intervenes very harshly. This is especially disturbing for music. There is sufficient spaciousness in the surround processing, but you will not get real Dolby Atmos experiences from this device. You can still support the weak bass reproduction with an external subwoofer, if you have one at home. But if you want a nicer movie experience, we think you better immediately opt for a good soundbar .
Panasonic TX-55LXW944 – Conclusion
This Panasonic TX-55LXW944 (LXW944 series) scores well if you’re looking for a family TV that is versatile and has to perform in a lit living room. In those viewing conditions, the limited contrast, its main flaw, is not too noticeable. He also shares the negatives we saw on the OLED models. The processor cannot smooth out color bands in soft color transitions. The rather mediocre audio pushes the real enthusiast in the direction of a soundbar, and for that you have to use one of the two HDMI 2.1 connections. That leaves only one HDMI 2.1 port free for avid gamers.
On the plus side we find that typical subtle but excellent image processing from Panasonic. Combined with an excellent peak brightness in this category, the ample HDR support and the good calibration, you can expect very nice images with natural colors. Only in dark film images does the limited contrast lose much of the atmosphere. The device also offers above-average equipment with a double TV tuner and double CI Plus slot, quite a few gamer features, and the handy My Home Screen. It seems a bit too expensive to us, since you can already find a number of OLED models for this price, or LCD TVs that perform even slightly better. So look for a promotion if you want to get it.
- Fine calibration in Filmmaker mode
- Ample HDR support
- Very good motion sharpness
- Excellent image processing
- HDMI 2.1 with gamer features and low input lag
- Moderate contrast with limited effect of local dimming
- Processor cannot eliminate color bands
- Only two HDMI 2.1 connections