Panasonic 65CX800 – First Impressions from CES 2015
While Panasonic’s stunning prototype OLED TV may have stolen the CES 2015 show with its gobsmacking picture quality, Panasonic also had some interesting stories to tell with its more affordable and numerous 2015 LCD TVs.
Tilting our eyes towards the top of Panasonic’s new LCD tree, where you naturally find the fullest expression of the brand’s 2015 intentions, we find the 65-inch 65CX800. This is, of course, a 4K TV, and we might as well say right away that thankfully Panasonic assures us it will support Netflix UHD and Amazon Prime UHD right out of the box. This is a great relief after Panasonic’s Netflix UHD issues in 2014.
Design wise the 65CX800 strikes us as a step up from last year’s models, favouring a lighter, brighter look that shouldn’t feel like such an overbearing presence in your living room.
Related: Sony 65X9005C – First Impressions
The set will benefit from the new Firefox OS-based My Home Screen 2.0 Smart TV interface and a Quad Core Pro processing engine.
Where the 65CX800 really gets interesting, though, is with its core panel technology. For starters we’re mighty pleased to find it using a VA-type panel rather than one of the low-contrast IPS panels that let a fair number of Panasonic’s 2014 TVs down. More significant still is the use of High Colour Gamut technology – a combination of new higher-purity colour filters and a more efficient backlight that Panasonic claims helps the CX800 range deliver up to 98% of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) colour gamut.
Brightness is as big a battleground for 2015 as colour, and here too the 65CX800 is on fighting form. Partnering that more efficient backlight with a local dimming system and a new high-transmittance panel has led to a claimed 30-35% boost in brightness over last year’s Panasonic TVs.
Of course, all this extra colour potency and brightness could do nothing but create a mess if they’re not harnessed properly. But the 65CX800 comes sporting Panasonic’s impressive Studio Master Drive system, which based on our experience last year combines advanced colour and black gradation handling to deliver an image packed with shadow detail and colour finesse.
From what we got to see of the 65CX800 at CES, Panasonic’s new high-end set does an excellent job of balancing its new aggression and dynamism with the subtler demands of home cinema fans. We were particularly pleased to see that the screen at CES still showed what appeared to be strong black levels – though these are always hard to judge precisely under the harsh lights of a show floor – despite the extra brightness, and it was also great to see excellent colour finesse and seemingly no white clipping in the richest, brightest parts of the picture.
Intriguingly Panasonic was running a convincing-looking HDR (high dynamic range) demonstration in a blacked-out part of its CES booth, and Panasonic’s new colour and brightness technologies would seem well suited to the needs of HDR. But we couldn’t get confirmation at the show that the CX800 series would be HDR compatible, making us suspect it probably won’t be.
Overall, our first impressions of the 65CX800 suggest that so long as it doesn’t let its new brightness and colour richness run away with it, it could fix at the first time of asking all the niggles we had with last year’s nonetheless impressive and good-value AX802 series. We’ll be bringing you a full review as soon as we can.