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Panasonic TX-58DX902B review

 Review: April 2016  
 

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: New for 2016, the Panasonic Viera TX-58DX902B is a contender for best LCD TV of all time. Equipped with professional quality colour management, 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR), and full array local dimming it provides near-perfect picture quality. Audio quality is excellent, thanks to 4 separate speakers, and the Smart TV is comprehensive and easy to use. A full range of connectivity options, including 4 HDMI connections completes the package. It's undoubtedly very expensive, but good value when compared with OLED televisions.



 

Design & looks

The DX902B is Panasonic's flagship TV for 2016, and it comes in 58-inch and 65-inch versions. Here we're looking at the (relatively) modest 58-inch model, which is probably at the limit of affordability for most buyers. Indeed, with a launch price of almost £3k, it's well beyond most people's limit. Still, we can dream, huh?

Panasonic has produced some ugly-looking televisions over the years, and while the DX902 isn't as bad as the company's worst efforts, it's a bit of a disappointment after last year's delicious CX802 model. The TV is a beast, weighing 32.5kg, with an enormous footprint, and measuring 63mm deep. The black bezel surrounding the screen measures just 1cm, giving the screen an airy feel, but we can't say that we're fans of the stand, with its big feet sticking out towards the viewer. Panasonic calls it the "Art of Light Design", for reasons we can't really fathom.

It seems like a solidly-constructed piece of kit however. You'll need a wide pedestal to place it on, and a friend to help you lift it into position, should you ever want to move it.

The TV comes with both a standard remote control and a smart controller too. Both are well designed with a premium metal finish.

Picture quality

Panasonic hasn't done the DX902B any favours when it comes to looks, so this TV is going to have to win us over with picture quality. Fortunately, it manages to do that with aplomb.

This is a 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) TV using Panasonic's new Studio Master HCX+ processor. It's not just a 4K TV, but 4K Pro, and one of the first to be awarded Ultra HD Premium status. Last year we marvelled at the Japanese company's Super Bright panels, with their incredible range from midnight blacks through to daylight whites. The DX902B takes this to the next level with its Ultra Bright Vertical Alignment (VA) 10-bit screen.

The DX902B uses full array local dimming (Local Dimming Ultra), which is the reason it's so deep. But we're very happy with the result. The Honeycomb array of independently-controlled direct LED backlights allows for precision control over local light levels from this screen, resulting in full shadow detail, and allowing regions of the screen to reach super bright levels while other areas remain resolutely black, without any visible light bleed.

The 4K Pro Colour Drive uses 6 colour processing (instead of 3) to produce a much wider and more accurate colour palette covering up to 98% of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) colour space. It's certified to the THX 4k Display standard, with THX 4K picture modes available for both Cinema and Bright Room settings. The 4K Studio Master Processor enables the playback of native HDR content.

The display is fast too, with a claimed 3,000Hz maximum effective motion rate. Certainly we saw no motion issues when watching UHD source material, or even HD broadcast video. Gamers will find that input lag is excellent in Game Mode.

The final test that we subject all screens to is viewing angles. This is often an area where VA display technology falls down. The DX902B does suffer a small loss of contrast when viewed from an angle of 45° or more, but it's a lot less than most VA screens, and is quite acceptable.

In summary, this is the best Panasonic television that we've reviewed since the days of plasma. Whilst OLED offers an advantage when it comes to viewing angles, this is quite probably the best LCD TV ever produced. It's certainly a match for Sony's new XD93 range, and from what we've seen of Samsung's 2016 range, we'd place the Panasonic in first place.

3D

The DX902B is 3D-capable, although no 3D glasses are included, despite the high price of the model. The 3D is of active type, and gives full 1080p, resolution thanks to the 4K screen.

Audio quality

A TV this big has plenty of room for some large speakers, and Panasonic has taken advantage of this to provide the DX902 with some hefty audio equipment. This consists of four separate speakers, with a quad passive radiator to provide extra depth. In total there's 40W of sound on offer, and that provides significantly more richness to the sound than many rival TVs.

Still, to get the most out of your cinema experience, you'll benefit from a dedicated home cinema system, and with a TV this expensive, the additional cost will be well worth it.

Smart TV

Panasonic's Firefox Smart TV system is based around a home screen, providing a simple interface to access all the services and channels available. These include Netflix 4K, Amazon Instant Video 4K, YouTube 4K, a web browser, and other apps.

Freeview Play is included, making catch-up TV easily accessible from the main menu. The EPG gives you access to more than 60 TV channels and 12 HD channels, as well as catch-up services including BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5.

The standard remote control includes a handy Netflix button, and a second Smart controller is also supplied. Voice control is also supported via the touchpad remote.

The quadcore processor ensures that the system is quick to respond.

Connectivity

The Viera TX58DX902B has 4 HDMI 2.0 connections, one of which is ARC-compatible. There are 2 USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port, a combined component/composite input, an optical audio output, a microSD memory card slot, headphone jack and a CI+ interface. There's no SCART interface, however. A back panel keeps all of the rear connections nicely out of sight.

Network connectivity is provided through built-in Wi-Fi and ethernet, and the TV supports display mirroring of Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. Panasonic's Viera remote app turns your smartphone or tablet into a TV remote controller with added functionality.

The TV includes twin Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners.

Conclusion - the TV to beat for 2016

Panasonic could have made its flagship TV a bit prettier, in our opinion. But they got everything else right. We could use words like breathtaking or groundbreaking to describe the picture quality of the TX-58DX902. In terms of dynamic range, colour accuracy, peak brightness and motion rendering, the screen is faultless. The only downside is the slight loss of colour saturation when viewed from an angle, but this is always an issue with VA screens, and it's less noticeable here than on rival Samsung screens.

Everything else is good - audio quality, connectivity, and Smart TV functionality. So while we wait for OLED TVs to fall to a sensible price, the Panasonic DX902B is the TV to beat for 2016.


Panasonic TX-58DX902B features include:

User questions

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Is there in and out capability with the USB connections, i.e. Can I record something onto my external hard drive, can you also tell me if the same applies to the 802B, Thanks.

Asked by Mrs A from U.K. on 5th Jun 2017

Does it support 4:4:4 full chroma subsampling 4K@60hz?

Asked by Mike from UK on 31st May 2016
Just curious if this could be used as pc monitor.

Reply by MagnuM from gb on 1st Jun 2017
My understanding is that you wld need to set to 8 bit for 4:4:4 at 60hz, due to hdmi limitations, but that wld still render excellent text.



Panasonic TX-58DX902B user reviews

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Reviewed by Crafty from UK on 4th Apr 2016
Had this tv for a week now and am very very pleased. Agree regards the stand as this tv replaced the AX902 which sat flat on the display cabinet and really looked like a piece of art whereas the 'feet' on this are a little unnecessary but then again the extra height just makes this screen look much bigger than the 55" it replaced. So the the picture, well it's to die for, absolutely fantastic and oh so natural with minimal tweaking. The interface is also nice and very responsive while the speakers are much better and fuller sounding than other tv's for listening to normal tv.
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Reply by Mark from England on 20th Jun 2016
Hello, I was wondering if you had any tips on how to get the best picture from this tv?

Reply by twodogs from United Kingdom on 30th Jul 2016
Whats best settings you have found to use please?


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