Panasonic is also introducing a large number of new models, a large part of which is equipped with the 4K Ultra HD resolution. In this review we discuss the Panasonic TX-58DXW784, a 58-inch model that has the high 4K Ultra HD resolution and is also equipped with Firefox OS.
Panasonic DXW784 – specifications
In the upper regions of the 2016 line-up of Panasonic, we see the DXW784 series, consisting of models from 50-inch to 65-inch. These TVs come with various interesting specifications and features, including the 4K Ultra HD resolution, edge lit LED lighting (direct LED for the 65-inch version), HDR support, a 1.800 BMR rechniek, a large color range, local dimming , Studio Master HCX and IFC Pro calibration options. In addition, the TVs are equipped with two tuners, 3D display (without supplied 3D glasses), My Home Screen 2.0 (Firefox OS) and VR-Audio True Surround.
The Panasonic DXW784 series consists of three models; the 50-inch TX-50DXW784 with a sales price of 1,399 euros, the 58-inch TX-58DXW784 with a suggested retail price of 1,799 euros and the 65-inch TX-65DXW784 with a suggested retail price of 2,799 euros. In this review we look at the 58-inch model but the conclusions also apply to the other models in this series.
For this review we use, among others, the Marantz UD7007 Blu-ray player, the Marantz SR7009 receiver, the B & W CM S2 series speakers and a PlayStation 3 game console. We also used Netflix for streaming video, both HD and 4K.
Panasonic DXW784 – design
One of the components of the Panasonic TV line-up that was renewed in 2016 is the design. Panasonic again opts for minimalist TVs, but also focuses on flexibility. For example, the foot of a number of models, including the DXW784 series models, can be turned around giving you a different appearance.
The Panasonic TX-58DXW784 has a silver-colored finish, with slim bezels around the TV. These bezels have been given a finish of brushed aluminum. On the bottom of the frame is a black logo of Panasonic, with a thin black bar below which the LED indicators are located. The screen looks very sleek and premium, without many bells and whistles.
The foot is striking for the above mentioned reason. You can install it in two ways; the long side of the foot facing forward or the short side of the foot facing forwards. It is a matter of taste but nice that you now have the choice. The metal base has also been given a silver finish and therefore fits perfectly with the list of the TV.
As far as the connections are concerned, the TX-58DXW784 has a USB 3.0 port and three HDMI ports on the side. We also see a CI slot (double tuner) here. The other connections, including the Ethernet port, an extra HDMI port and two extra USB ports, point backwards. It must be said that the power cable that Panasonic delivers is very short. An extension cable or socket is therefore not a luxury for many people.
The DXW784 models come with one remote control; the standard remote control as we have known for years. The TouchPad Remote is therefore not included. The standard remote control still has the distinctive design of Panasonic, with large buttons and access to the main functions. We also see the Netflix button that gives direct access to the streaming app. The remote control is fairly simple, completely made of plastic and is well in hand. If you prefer to use your smartphone, you can get started with the Panasonic Remote app, which you can read more about below.
Panasonic DXW784 – ease of use
If we look at the ease of use, we will soon end up on the smart TV platform, in this case My Home Screen 2.0 (or Firefox OS). We’ll explain about how this works later, but in general it can be said that Panasonic keeps it fairly simple, tight and intuitive. You immediately see where you have to be, there is no abundance of options and navigation between the different sections is smooth and fast.
The general menus of the DXW784 models are the same as last year. This year, too, when you turn on the TV for the first time, you will be offered a number of basic settings so that you can get started right away. So you can install the channels and connect the TV to your WiFi network. It is not a fancy or extensive set-up, but it ensures that you can view your channels directly and have access to apps and services. A suggestion we already gave last year is that it would be nice if Panasonic would offer more possibilities to adjust the audio and the image in this set-up according to your own wishes so that you do not have to scroll through the menus afterwards. The settings of the TV are easy to reach, well structured and conveniently arranged. Here, too, it is not fancy, but that is beneficial for the user.
As soon as you have gone through the first settings, you will enter the home screen of the Firefox smart TV platform. Here you first get information about the use and the possibilities of the platform through a number of beautifully designed windows. It takes some getting used to but after a few times browsing through the interface you see where everything is for. Incidentally, nothing changed in terms of appearance and functionality compared to last year. Firefox OS (My Home Screen 2.0) still works exactly the same, even though it feels a bit faster and smoother. Later this year, Panasonic will release an update that adds a number of functions.
As indicated above, the speed of the system is good. This is a problem on many smart TVs; switching between apps or navigating through menus is slow, or the waiting times for opening an app are too long. Panasonic has mastered this, partly thanks to a fairly simple smart TV platform. Panasonic is far from the best smart TV manufacturer but knows how to find a good combination between functionality and ease of use.
Panasonic has for years an application with which you can make a remote control from your smartphone or tablet. Since a few years we are ready for the second version of this app (TV Remote 2), but it is really time for a new version. Although this app does exactly what you can expect, the look is now outdated; it can all be more beautiful and tighter.
In terms of functionality, however, we are still satisfied with the application. A fast connection to the TV is made and all basic functions can be operated quickly and easily. So you can choose the touchpad that is also available on the TouchPad Remote (not included), a keyboard that allows you to send texts to the TV (for example a URL) and a window with the standard buttons of the traditional remote control.
In addition, the application offers various additional options, including Swipe & Share. This allows you to ‘throw’ media from your phone or tablet towards your TV. Unfortunately, this is still not currently working on an iPhone, at least for photos and videos. The reason is unknown to us but there is always an error message. Throwing music to your TV does work. Another handy feature is that you can open the browser within the app to quickly display a website on your TV. You do not necessarily have to navigate on the big screen itself.
Via the TV Remote 2 application you get an overview of the installed applications so that you can start them directly from your mobile device. TV Anywhere is also present. Allows you to view material recorded on a USB disk or live TV programs (only when not encrypted / protected) remotely, for example outdoors. This function requires a Panasonic Cloud account, which is free of charge, and the TV must be in ‘standby mode’. The TV Anywhere interface, which does not fall directly within the Remote app but within the Panasonic Media Center app, is in English and not really user-friendly, but the function works properly. Handy for when you’re not at home and want to plan something or want to watch a program recorded on a USB stick outside the door. Incidentally, various models also support TV Streaming, with which the content that appears on TV can be streamed to another TV in the house (a Panasonic Viera TV).
Panasonic DXW784 – features
Smart TV platform (Firefox OS)
The smart TV platform from Panasonic has been given the name My Home Screen 2.0 and is based on Firefox OS from Mozilla. Compared with last year, little has changed in this area, although the speed has improved somewhat and the system is still more stable. But since these were not negatives in the previous generation, there is little news to report.
The layout is still the same and the possibilities are not adjusted. So you have a home screen, accessible via the home button on the remote control, where you come across three icons; Live TV, Apps and Devices. These are shortcuts to the main functions of the TV. You can also place shortcuts on this screen, for example from a favorite TV channel, a frequently used input or a handy app. We are still happy with the home screen, especially because of the simple display and the sleek design.
Firefox OS generally looks very tight and works intuitively. But, at Panasonic, for years there has been one component that is lagging behind the competition, and that is the range of apps. The most popular apps, including Netflix, YouTube, NPO Gemist and Pathé Home, are present but there is not much to find. It still seems to be not part of what Panasonic pays a lot of attention to. Incidentally, it must also be said that Firefox OS does not support multi-tasking. An app that you close must therefore be restarted; switching quickly is not possible.
A new Firefox OS update, scheduled for later this year, will offer new ways to discover and store internet apps on TV. The Web Apps are expanded with optimized Web content (games, news, VOD, weather and much more) and offers users a simple “click and watch” experience without the need to install the apps. Let’s hope that the offer will be slightly increased.
The Info Frame is part of the smart TV platform, but we have used it only sporadically. This is a window with colored elements on four sides, with which Panasonic wants to give suggestions for content or interesting information. You can view the weather forecast, open favorite websites or see recommended TV programs. It is a nice feature but it does not really matter to use.
Firefox web browser
How many people actually use the browser on their TV is not known to us, but it is still possible. Of course Firefox is the browser within Firefox OS and that is an important plus. This browser is nice and fast, thanks to the app (and throwing URLs to the TV) can easily be used and shows websites correctly. It is therefore a browser that invites to be used but the applications are still not large.
A smart TV is really a smart TV when you can display media from other devices and that is on the TX-58DXW784 possible through a media player and through Miracast. The latter option offers the possibility to display content from a Miracast-compatible device on TV. DLNA support allows you to view media from a NAS or from your PC on the TV. A media player is built in for this. It supports a wide range of file formats including AVCHD, AVI, MKV, WMV, MP4, M4v, VOB, MP3, AAC, WMA Pro, FLAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, JPEG and MPO. HEVC support for playing 4K content is also present.
Panasonic DXW784 – image quality
However, it is all about one part of the TV and that is the image quality. If we can believe the specifications, then we can have high expectations. The TX-58DXW784 comes with a 4K Ultra HD panel with edge lit LED lighting and local dimming, a Superieur Contrast, a 1.800Hz BMR technique, active 3D display (without 3D glasses), a Super Bright Panel, IFC Pro options and Studio Master HCX.
Before we test a TV extensively with various media we always look at the most optimal settings, without having to professionally calibrate a TV. In short; how do we get the most out of the image display of this model? Fortunately, manufacturers are getting better with the standard modes you can choose from and from the box you can choose the best for True Cinema mode at Panasonic. This mode ensures a true-to-life color reproduction, deep black levels and sufficient brightness. It is the best compromise in many cases.
In addition, we have started, adjusted or de-activated a number of extra options. For example, we choose ‘Warm2’ for color rendering and we set the options for Vivid Colors, Ambient Sensor, Remast Resolution and Remaster Dynamic Range. We want a display that is as close as possible to the original light and therefore the TV should do as little as possible with it. It is also more likely that errors in the image are introduced when the TV has to do all sorts of operations. Incidentally, Dynamic Range remastering is an interesting option to give the image more dynamism and let light parts of the screen jump. However, we did not see enough positive difference to enable this option. In doing so, we have minimized the noise reduction and MPEG remaster. Note that turning these options off is particularly positive when you use a good-quality source.
We have enabled Adaptive Backlight but on ‘minimal’. This improves black levels in dark environments but can also occasionally give a ‘blooming’ effect, so that a column of the screen is lighter than the rest. Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) is an option to make images smoother. You can turn this option off with good quality content, but we prefer ‘minimal’. This option makes images run smoother but introduces a home video effect at a higher setting, which does not benefit the realistic and natural reproduction. Those who want to dive deeper into the settings can get started with the gamma, white balance and color management.
As with any TV review, we first look at the general properties of the panel and the image display, including the uniformity of the screen and how the backlighting works. To immediately fall in with the door; in this area we have nothing to complain about. There is very slight bleeding of the edge lit lighting in dark pictures, but this is not a notable disadvantage. The screen is particularly uniformly illuminated and this ensures an even view of black, red and white. There are no obvious light spots visible and that immediately gives a good impression.
There is hardly or no question of blooming effects or halo effects; in dark scenes with lighter objects it remains strikingly black around these objects. Due to edge lit lighting, this is sometimes different, but the way in which local dimming is used here seems to be paying off. The black values are generally of a very good level, especially considering the fact that we are talking about an LCD TV, even if it is with a VA panel. With Adaptive Backlight, the black can be adjusted deeper, but on the other hand you lose details in dark parts of the screen, the so-called shades of gray. Also the contrast does not disappoint; the TV knows from intense white to deep black many gradations to reflect ‘perfection’. The light output of the DXW784 is exceptionally good, hence the Super Bright designation. As a result, the TV can still provide a good picture in somewhat brightly lit environments.
It is not allowed anymore; watching sd content on your new TV. And fortunately, the supply of HD content is now fine. But, if you grab a DVD disc or watch a TV channel in sd, then it is certainly good to know that the TX-58DXW784 is also very good. The TV knows ‘moderate’ SD content to be reasonably clean and sleek, with no noticeable noise or artefacts in the image. The noise filters and mpeg filters may be switched on here, but the whole thing gets tighter. Motion handling (IFC) still has some problems with low resolution; there must be too much calculated it seems. This causes minor errors when we raise IFC somewhat higher, errors that are particularly noticeable with fast movements of objects or the camera. But, apart from that, we are presented with a very neat and tight picture with sd-content.
Most of the content we watch is available in HD resolution and with this material the DXW784 also shows what it can do. Hd content is convincingly converted to the high 4K Ultra HD resolution, with retention of detail and even the addition of software sharpness that is very convincing. The color reproduction is natural and dynamic; colors splash from the screen, the contrast is at a high level and skin tones in particular are realistic and with sufficient gradations. It provides a lively and natural picture. Even in dark scenes with a lot of shadow detail, the TV stays upright, for example in the subtle gray details of a dark coat. The TV captures movements with IFC almost perfectly and smoothly so that the stuttering effect does not occur, but if the content is of lesser quality the ‘low’ setting can further optimize the motion handling. There is absolutely no noise or artefacts, so you get a clean, dynamic and natural picture.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray discs still have to appear in stores but the streaming services are now full: content in the high 4K resolution. When you open Netflix, you immediately see a nice selection of films and series in this resolution. Whereas last year we indicated that with 4K content you only get the most out of your Ultra HD TV, this is something else this year. Many top models and middle class TVs have HDR support. These TVs can provide content that is available in HDR with a higher dynamic range ( high dynamic range) view. The TX-58DXW784 can do this too but unfortunately there is currently no HDR content available. The first Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will be available and services such as Netflix and Amazon have already announced that they will soon start with HDR content. For now we have to do without it and focus on the Ultra HD resolution.
We watch 4K material via Netflix and although it is clear that there is a compression on this material we are quite impressed by the quality, especially in the area of subtle details and razor-sharp reproduction. HD content already looks impressive thanks to an excellent upscaler, but extra details can not be added to the source material, so wonders are not to be expected. These details are in native 4K content and that is the main plus point. Depending on the size of your TV and the viewing distance, the higher resolution will take you deeper into a movie or series and you will see details that previously disappeared in the background or were simply too small. The absorption of fast movements is also sublime with 4K content; there is hardly any stutter effect or smeared details.
The Panasonic TX-58DXW784 features a special game mode that disables various image processing techniques to give you a fast response time, with low input lag. A low input lag is desirable for those who like to play games where the reaction time is important, for example shooters. The DXW784 models end up with an input lag of 57ms in the middle section and are therefore not the best choice for the avid gamer, but the casual gamer will not be bothered by it.
Reflections and viewing angles
Panasonic has equipped the DXS784 models with a new coating and a va-panel. These elements ensure reasonable viewing angles. From normal angles (looking at how a family would sit around the TV) the quality does not deteriorate drastically, but it is clear to see that blue and red get the upper hand and the brightness gets a lot less. The image becomes a little more flatter and the color reproduction less.
A disadvantage that is more striking is that the screen of the DXW784 models is quite a mirror, despite the coating. If the TV is off, it is actually a mirror, but even when you watch TV in daylight, objects and lamps in the room quickly rise. during bright scenes this is not really striking due to the high brightness, but with a movie with lots of dark scenes. For those who place the TV directly next to a window and during the day a lot of TV viewing may be something to be reckoned with.
Panasonic DXW784 – audio quality
The Panasonic TX-58DXW784 has two full-range speakers with a power of 20 Watt and VR-Audio True Surround. That sounds impressive but that is not so bad. For a flat screen TV we can not really complain because there is enough volume and for a simple TV program or a series is enough. But, it lacks the low tones and moreover it sometimes sounds a bit dull because the audio is not sent directly to the viewer. There is also very little dynamic in the sound, something that will certainly fall on when watching a movie. For most people, we still recommend an external audio or home theater system to improve the sound quality.
Panasonic DXW784 – conclusion
For 1,799 euros you will not only get a big TV with an attractive design, which can also be adjusted to your own wishes thanks to the exchangeable foot. You get a TV that can go with the top of the moment, especially in the field of image quality. In this area, Panasonic shows the trick not yet be forgotten. The TV offers excellent 4K and HD reproduction, with convincing subtle details, true-to-life colors, deep black levels and a uniform screen. Firefox OS is a very attractive and intuitive platform but the maximum is not yet removed, especially due to the poor app offer. Another disadvantage is that the screen is quite sensitive to reflections and that the viewing angles are not particularly good. The audio quality is of average level; a soundbar or audio system is certainly recommended. Furthermore, in terms of ease of use with the TX-58DXW784 it is certainly good, as with the possibilities that the TV offers to optimally display your content. All in all, we can definitely recommend the Panasonic TX-58DXW784 if you are looking for a good Ultra HD TV without lots of bells and whistles but with a sleek design.