In this review we look at the flagship for 2016, the 58-inch Panasonic TX-58DXW904 from the DXW904 series LCD LED TV. This models have the 4K Ultra HD resolution and support for HDR.
Panasonic TX-58DXW904 – specifications
The absolute top model for 2016 is the Panasonic DXW904. This series consists of two models; the 58-inch TX-58DXW904 and the 65-inch TX-65DXW904. Both models are equipped with the latest features, functions, techniques and standards. The TVs have Direct LED backlighting with Local Dimming Ultra, the 4K Ultra HD resolution, HDR support with a maximum brightness of 1000 nits, a THX certificate for the image display, a 3000Hz BMR technique for a smooth display, a wider color range, ISF calibration options, 3D display, two tuners and My Home Screen 2.0 (Firefox OS).
The 58-inch Panasonic DXW904 has a sales price of 3,999 euros, the 65-inch TX-65DXW904 comes with a suggested retail price of 4,999 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 the Panasonic DMP-UB900 Ultra HD 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 TX-58DXW904 – design
Panasonic is taking on something different in terms of design this year than in previous years. The top models, in contrast to some lower models, do not have a foot that can be turned over but do have a minimalistic foot. At least that is the case when you mount it correctly. After all, the back of the foot was mistaken for us with the front and we were looking quite a bit at the resulting old-fashioned and ugly appearance. But, it was so happy to the rear, with which the TV can be placed firmly. However, it must be said that the foot is mush, which you have to take into account.
The front of the foot consists of two small legs with a dark finish of brushed metal. This is the only thing that stands out on the foot, which benefits the ‘look’ of the TV. The fact that the TV needs something to be able to stand firmly is not strange. This model is indeed a lot thicker and heavier than the average LCD LED TV, and that is due to the direct LED backlighting where the LEDs are directly behind the screen.
So you do not have to expect the ultimate slim TV. In terms of thickness, this model even reminds of the first LCD TVs, but we always get over that quickly. For the ultimate image quality direct LED is desired and then we take those two extras on the bargain. The battle for the thinnest TV we have also lost sight of. Apart from this point, there is little to be seen on TV in terms of design. The TX-58DXW904 looks particularly sleek and premium, thanks to a thin black frame around the screen and silver-colored edges around the frame. Furthermore no bells and whistles, only the logo of Panasonic in the middle under the screen, and everything is neatly finished. The TV is stable on the foot and feels premium.
As far as the connections are concerned, you get everything you need to connect your equipment. The DXW904 models have a large flap at the rear behind which everything is located. Two HDMI ports face down, two HDMI ports point to the side, an optical output points down and on the side we see three USB ports and the CI + module back.
The Panasonic DXW904 models are supplied with two remote controls; a premium normal variant and the Touch Remote. The normal remote control is one that makes us happy immediately. For the first time in a long time, it is not a cheap plastic accessory but a sturdy, well-looking and well-equipped accessory. The remote control is nice and big, heavy enough to lie well in the hand, with a premium look and equipped with large buttons with sufficient space. Even more convenient is the ‘light’ function that illuminates the keys. That’s how we like it. Incidentally, the Netflix button is also present. Should this remote control not really please you can go for the Touch Remote, a smaller accessory. This remote control is slightly better in its hand due to its rounding and is slightly lighter. Also, most standard buttons are missing and you have to do it with a touchpad. This touchpad can be used to scroll through lists and to click, something that can also be done with an ‘ok’ button and the arrows. There is also a microphone but the voice operation we have given up a while ago. We do not really see the added value of this remote control, but each one of its tastes is natural.
Panasonic TX-58DXW904 – ease of use
In terms of ease of use we can actually take over what we have written in the review of the DXW784 series. The visible part with menus and settings consists on the one hand of My Home Screen 2.0 (Firefox OS) and on the other hand of the standard menus for settings. Panasonic has given these standard menus a small make-over, but the use is almost the same as last year.
When you switch on your TV for the first time, you go through a number of important settings, including linking the WiFi network and searching for channels. It is not an advanced set-up whereby, for example, the image quality can also be adjusted but sufficient to be able to start immediately. 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. However, the DXW904 models have more options and settings than the lower models; everything can be completely adjusted and the image display can be professionally calibrated. So you can make it as crazy as you want.
Remote app of Panasonic DXW904
Panasonic has had the same application for TVs for years; TV Remote 2. This app makes it possible to operate your TV without the remote control and you can also start apps and stream content to your TV. It is a comprehensive and well-functioning application, but it is now time for an update that adds some more modern elements and resolves long-known bugs. So we still can not throw videos and photos from our iPhone towards the TV, music is possible. The keyboard in the app is a handy option since entering e-mail addresses or URLs with the remote control just does not go so smoothly. 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.
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).
An extra function for the top models with ISF calibration is the ‘Smart Calibration’ function. With this you can professionally provide the screen with an optimal image display. For the average consumer, however, these are options that raise more questions than answer, so be sure to get started when you know what you are about.
Panasonic DXW904 – features
Smart TV platform (Firefox OS)
The Panasonic models of this year, including the DXW904 series, run on Firefox OS. Panasonic calls the software itself My Home Screen 2.0. This software was introduced last year and not much has changed since 2015. What we notice most is that the navigation is just a bit smoother and that the speed has increased, so positive points. But, there was also not much to change because we were already satisfied with Firefox OS. However, Panasonic will come later this year with an update that adds a number of functions. This update will provide new ways to discover internet apps and store them on the TV. The Web Apps are expanded with optimized Web content (games, news, VOD, weather and much more) and the update offers users a simple “click and watch” experience without the need to install the apps.
The platform is 99 percent the same as last year and we see that immediately in the home screen of My Home Screen. This screen, accessed via the home button on the remote control, contains 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. The start screen looks slick, works logically and is especially clear and beautiful.
The other parts of the platform also look neat and are clearly arranged. In the app overview you will find the available apps and the downloadable apps. However, the offer is still not impressive. Panasonic offers the most popular services, including Netflix, YouTube, NPO Gemist and Pathé Home, but otherwise there is not much to find. 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.
One part of the smart TV platform that we use less is the Info Frame. This ‘frame’ appears on top of the content you are viewing, with a menu item on all sides. These items all have a different color and a different purpose. For example, by selecting one of the items, you can view the weather forecast, access favorite websites or see recommended TV programs. It is a nice feature but it does not really matter to use.
A smart TV is really a smart TV when you can display media from other devices and that is on the TX-58DXW904 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 and VP9 support for playing 4K content is also available.
Panasonic DXW904 – image quality
Since the Panasonic TX-58DXW904 is the top model of this year, we expect a lot from the image quality. The TV has, among other things, a va-panel with direct LED backlighting and local dimming, the 4K Ultra HD resolution, HDR support with a maximum brightness of 1000 nits, a THX certificate for the image display, a 3000Hz BMR technique for a smooth display, an Ultra Bright Panel, Studio Master HCX +, a wider color range, ISF calibration capabilities and 3D display without supplied 3D glasses. In short, everything that you need for optimum image quality, on paper at least.
Main settings of Panasonic TX-58DXW904
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 THX 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. Please note; we use slightly different settings for HDR content, as you will see later in the review (the above image does not show the correct settings). For the backlighting we choose 20 when you watch SDR content in the evening, plus a contrast of 90 and a sharpness of 10. We also choose ‘Warm2’ for the color rendering and we set the options for Vivid Colors, Ambient Sensor, Resolution remastering and Color remastering out. We want a display that is as close as possible to the (high-quality) 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. 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. Backlight black level we put on ‘dark’.
Adaptive Backlight we turned on but at ‘minimal’ as this is a TV with direct LED backlight and we want to use that as much. Fortunately, this low option does not introduce clear blooming effects and we get a deep black presentation. Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) is an option to make images smoother. You can turn this option off for good quality content, but we prefer ‘minimal’ or a custom setting with Clear Motion activated. 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. Clear Motion can also cause a flicker effect if you are sensitive to it. Those who want to dive deeper into the settings can get started with the gamma, white balance and color management.
Please note; Adjusting or calibrating your TV depends on your own preferences and the room in which the TV is located. Do you want to your .
General settings of Panasonic TX-58DXW904
In every review of a TV we first look at the general characteristics of the screen. How uniform is the distribution of light, we see the backlight, is there banding (vertical bands / stripes), is there bloomming- or halo-effects to see and how deep is the black that we see. Since the TX-58DXW904 has direct LED backlighting and has local dimming, we only expected positive conclusions, and that is actually the case in almost all areas. There is for example a football match very light banding to see, so you can see very light vertical bands in fast camera movements. You can also at least suffer from halo and blooming effects when you sit far out of the middle of the TV but all minuses are actually named. The TV offers a completely uniform image, without ‘leaking’ backlight, around light objects on a dark background hardly any blooming effect can be seen and the black values are at an impressively deep level. With Adaptive Backlight you can take care of something deeper black, but with a higher setting than minimal, at least with SDR content you lose details in dark parts of the screen.
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 DXW904 models is very good, hence probably also the Ultra Bright designation. As a result, the TV can still provide a good picture in somewhat brightly lit environments. In terms of motion, we prefer the Clear Motion option instead of putting IFC on minimal or medium. However, it is a matter of taste and how you experience this option. But, with this setting, Panasonic once again shows that it has very good image processing techniques in-house. Pictures are convinced tight and smooth. We are absolutely impressed in terms of color reproduction. The DW904 models display colors in a very lifelike way and know just what extras to give them splashing off the screen. The larger color range (with Ultra HD) Blu-ray has a clear added value and makes a film more dynamic and vivid.
You may still not be able to escape it; SD content. If you are watching it then it is good to know that the Panasonic TX-58DXW904 can handle this perfectly. The upscaler does his job and still shows a picture of poor quality (resolution) reasonably well. There is some noise in the image and we also see artifacts, but it is ‘viewable’. Motion handling is not of the highest level with SD content, but we can also look at it very well. All in all; watch HD or Ultra HD content on a TV like this anyway, but if you have SD content, it will certainly not negatively affect your viewing experience.
For the testing of HD material, we have once again grabbed Gravity’s Blu-ray, in particular to get to grips with black values, motion handling and local dimming. But, it soon became clear that the TX-58DXW904 has no problem with this. The upscaler makes an impressively sharp image of it, with subtle details and a clean appearance. Black is and remains convinced deep black, without blooming effects around the stars that often fill the dark sky. Motion handling in busy action scenes is executed perfectly, with a smooth display of fast moving objects and even an extremely tight display when the camera shoots from left to right. Nothing is smeared and nothing clearly loses detail. In addition, we see a high contrast, with a lot of shadow details. Subtle grays are clearly visible, which brings more life into the picture. The color reproduction is also very tight and accurate; impressive. There is absolutely no noise or artefacts, so you get a clean, dynamic and natural picture.
For testing 4K Ultra HD content we have watched Marco Polo on Netflix and Mad Max on (Ultra HD) Blu-ray. Now it is clear that with the latest generation of Ultra HD TVs the display of the higher resolution is well arranged. Panasonic also has a good time and lets 4K material splash with convincing detail and dynamics from the screen. In particular the Ultra HD Blu-ray film clearly shows this. If you watch content from Netflix, the compression remains visible, introducing some more noise and artefacts, and up close, Ultra HD Blu-ray also seems slightly sharper in the subtle details. But, it must be said that the difference between an Ultra HD Blu-ray film and a normal Blu-ray film at a distance of 2.5 to 3 meters is not clearly visible, purely in terms of resolution.
But, the subtle details that are not in the source material of an HD movie are of course present in a 4K film. However, that difference is only clearly visible at a small distance (or a very large screen). Apart from that, the TV needs less to do with the image (there is no need to scale) and so the display is just a bit tighter and smoother. Catching fast movements is sublime at 4K content; there is no stutter effect or smeared details. In addition, the color reproduction of high level, with high contrast, realistic but dynamic colors and an intense display. But, it is not just the resolution that offers the added value of Ultra HD …
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 display content that is available in HDR with a higher dynamic range ( ). The TX-58DXW904 can also do this with a maximum brightness of 1000 nits.
When we view HDR content, we first set some settings differently. You can do this by taking one of the professional modes and setting the THX Cinema mode settings here, with the exception of the following changes. We open the backlight completely, the contrast to 100 and the Adaptive Backlight Control to Medium. With this we get the most out of the panel with HDR content. We used the player, in combination with some demo material and the film Mad Max.
The resolution is, as said, not the most important part of Ultra HD Blu-ray. Ultra HD must be a combination of a number of new standards; 10-bit color, support for the rec.2020 color spectrum (more colors) and HDR (high dynamic range). We also take these three elements into account under this heading. And to fall right at home with the door; it is the combination of the higher resolution, more colors and the larger dynamic range that actually shows the next step in the viewing experience. Grab all those elements together and you will get a livelier and more dynamic picture that is closer to reality on the one hand and on the other hand you will go deeper into a film. The gradient of colors is tighter, colors are much more intense and natural, subtle details come just a bit more forward and the larger dynamic range creates an image that splashes from your screen. It is all a bit more as we would experience it with our own eyes when we were there. HDR makes explosions even more dramatic than with an HD movie, the larger color range gives the yellowish Sahara in Mad Max even more shades and a natural look, and the 4K resolution makes the smallest details even more alive. Deep black remains deep black, while the sun in the background almost hurts your eyes; exactly as we want it. The collection of fast-moving images or objects is also very fluid and tight; in different scenes where cars chase each other we hardly see any creaks or smeared details.
A while back we often wrote in reviews that a high contrast with deep black levels and bright whites often has more effect on the ‘3d experience’ than the resolution, simply because it creates depth in the image; you come closer to reality. The resolution alone does not create more reality, all elements of a TV do together. Panasonic shows with the TX-58DXW904 that the high resolution, the high contrast, the intense HDR reproduction and the larger color range together can provide an actual new viewing experience where you get sucked into a movie and have a little more idea to help yourself. Combine high-quality content with a premium TV and you have the best viewing experience you can currently get.
The crown for the best TV for playing games is unfortunately not going to Panasonic this year. The input lag for this model is around 40ms in game mode, and although that’s not bad, as a paintable gamer you can go for one of the Samsung top models with an input lag of around 20ms. A low input lag is desirable for those who like to play games where the reaction time is important, for example shooters.
Reflections and viewing angles
In terms of viewing angles and reflections, the Panasonic TX-58DXW904 is not a high flyer. The screen actually suffers from the same problems as the DXW784 models. The brightness is still deteriorating at an angle greater than 25 degrees and the color rendering is also less accurate. So it is a TV where you prefer to sit right (within 45 degrees).
Reflections also stand out, especially when the TV is standing next to a window or when there are lights in the back of the room. During bright scenes you do not have much trouble with this, but in dark scenes it can stand out. When the TV is off, it is one big mirror anyway. Both issues are not a big disadvantage, especially when you watch TV in the evening and often lead with the family (or alone).
Panasonic DXW904 – audio quality
With a TV of this size, and especially in terms of thickness, there is of course more room to lose speakers. Panasonic has equipped the DXW904 models with larger speakers; two woofers and two tweeters, with a capacity of 40 watts. The sound is not disappointing, but is also not very impressive at the same time. The TV provides a stereo image that is wide enough and in terms of midtones everything is convincing, warm and clear. The sound field is also lively and open. The low tones are somewhat weak and can drop out at high volume. The treble can sometimes overdrive at high volume. But, in general, the audio reproduction is of excellent quality, especially for a simple TV program or series. Are you really into the movies then an external audio system is still advisable.
Panasonic DXW904 – conclusion
The conclusion of this review is actually already under the heading of image quality; Panasonic shows with the TX-58DXW904 that the high resolution, the high contrast, the intense HDR reproduction and the larger color range together can provide an actual new viewing experience where you get sucked into a movie and have a little more idea to help yourself. Combine high-quality content with a premium TV and you have the best viewing experience you can currently get. In terms of image quality it is absolutely good, if you feed the screen with the content it deserves. In terms of design, the TX-58DXW904 may not be for everyone but for the thicker design you get a lot back in quality. The TV is very user-friendly, contains countless options to customize everything to your liking and is equipped with the handy and simple Firefox OS platform. As you read, we actually have very little to complain about. Yes, the app offer can be a bit bigger, the remote app may be renewed, the foot is somewhat wide, the 3D glasses are no longer supplied and the viewing angles and reflections can interfere in certain situations. But, if you can live with this, then with the TX-58DXW904 you have one of the best TVs of the moment in house. However, you also pay for this; 3.999 euros is a lot of money, but for that money you also benefit fully from all new techniques, standards and possibilities. You will be baked in the coming years.