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Panasonic Viera TX-55CX700B review

Michael Passingham
28 Oct 2015
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
999
inc VAT

Wonderful image quality and a superb operating system make the Panasonic Viera TX-55CX700B a desirable high-end TV

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Specifications

Screen size: 55in, Native resolution: 3,840x2,160, Video inputs: 3x HDMI (2x ARC), SCART, Component, Composite, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 762x1237x242

Thin, silver bezels and small legs give Panasonic’s Ultra HD CX700-series TV a premium appearance without dominating the room with unnecessary design flourishes. Running Firefox OS, packed with smart TV content and coming in at under £1,000, this 55in model in particular is a very attractive set.

As the first TV we’ve seen with Firefox OS, a bright, colourful and simple smart TV system that’s powerful and customisable underneath – something that very few TV operating systems get totally right. Android TV is rapidly becoming more established, so it’s crucial that Firefox OS gets it right to stand a chance, but so far it appears to have done so.

Hit the Home button on the remote control and you're greeted with three icons: Live TV, Apps and Devices. Live TV does what you'd expect, while Apps takes you to your smart TV apps. The right icon, Devices, lets you pick from the other sources connected to your TV.

^ The main home screen has just three icons, but you can pin extra favourites to it at your leisure

You can 'pin' individual channels, apps and sources to the Home menu, like a games console plugged in via HDMI or a USB device, to make your most-used services just a few button presses away. It works fantastically well and we can see home cinema junkies absolutely loving its flexibility. The addition of a quick quad-core processor really helps the OS feel significantly snappier than any previous Panasonic effort.

There are some slightly more niche additions, too. Long press the Home button when watching terrestrial TV and you'll gain access to four colour-coded panels. Green activates an Accuweather forecast panel at the top of the screen, Blue opens notifications on the right-side and Red reveals a list of TV channels for quick access.

^The weather panel is a handy addition

Yellow, meanwhile, opens up 'Recommended'. Within Recommended, the OS presents you with a list of programmes currently airing you might want to watch. This didn't work all the time, though. Scroll down and you get a list of all the TV you've recorded, assuming you’ve connected an external hard disk to one of the USB ports. The third option is a selection of highlighted YouTube content. Finally, there's video on-demand, which recommends paid-for movies and documentaries from Viewster, which specialises in web shorts and animation.

The TV comes pre-loaded with practically every video streaming app you could want in the UK. 4K Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4, Demand 5, Amazon Instant, 4K YouTube and Wuaki.tv find a place on the main screen. Open up the Apps Market and you can find additional apps to download, although few are essential, perhaps aside from the TuneIn Radio app, which lets you listen to every station you can think of over the internet.

^The pre-installed app selection is extensive 

Even better than the apps alone, you can now also use Freeview Play in the UK. Freeview Play integrates nearly seamlessly as a normal TV guide, letting you watch live content via your aerial connection. If you navigate to the left using the EPG, you'll be given a list of top shows broadcast on each channel. It's a little confusing at first; when you first scroll to the left, the format of the list changes so that all the content on the screen (see below) is for one channel, such as BBC One.

To see highlights from other channels you have to scroll down to a different channel using the list on the right. It's counter-intuitive when you're used to normal, non-connected EPGs, but it won't take long to get used to it.

Select any past programme on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 and you'll be taken directly to that episode's catch-up video within the relevant app (provided the show is available for catch up, of course).

^Freeview Play lets you select previously-aired episodes and open them in the relevant smart TV app

Select something that's currently playing on the BBC, and Freeview Play will give you the option to start the show from the beginning; effectively allowing you to rewind. This is done through iPlayer's own Play From Beginning function.

Weirdly, there's no universal search function to find other shows that were on in the past so you'll have to use the individual catch-up applications to find specific programs. Freeview says this is something they're working on for the future.

Most importantly, image quality is fantastic. The Viera TX-55CX700B uses a 3,840x2,160 panel and manages an incredible performance, in even the most challenging situations. Of course, native Ultra HD content looks stunning, but perhaps more important for the foreseeable future is how the set handles upscaling Full HD and SD content.

As with most large TVs, there's only so much one can do with SD terrestrial television. Blotchy, noisy and drab, you'd need a miracle to make terrestrial TV look good. If anything, the large screen and 4K resolution emphasise the lack of quality; this TV really isn't suited to it.

Fortunately, Full HD content looks outstanding. A combination of perfectly-judged contrast (a 3369:1 ratio) and smooth greys and blacks, as well as local backlight dimming, makes for a natural-looking and immersive image. Colours are well-served, too: bright and vibrant without looking over-saturated. This is a TV you can take straight out of the box and enjoy without having to change a single setting. We measured sRGB coverage at 97% at default settings.

Those cinephiles who like to tinker won't be disappointed; the TX-55CX700B has one of the most expansive image adjustment menus we’ve seen. Individual tweaks for every colour, adjustment for MPEG noise, upscaling, interpolation, contrast, brightness and automatic adaptive adjustment are all present, among many others.

Panasonic's intelligent frame creation eliminates the juddering effect you get from 24p content, but the more smoothing you have, the more noticeable a shimmering effect there is around very fast moving objects. The Endurance spacecraft in the movie Interstellar suffers noticeably from what looks like deliberate heat haze from its boosters, as it narrowly avoids being consumed by mile-high waves on planet Miller, but it is in fact an artefact caused by frame creation. We’d rather have this slight noise than juddery footage but, again, how you choose to deal with this will be down to personal taste.

The Viera TX-55CX700B is a superb 4K TV. Terrific Full HD upscaling, fantastic colours and a smooth smart TV interface gives Panasonic a huge leg-up. As Ultra HD content starts to become more readily available, this is a great TV to make sure you're ready. Buy now from Currys.

HARDWARE
Screen size55in
Native resolution3,840x2,160
Aspect ratio16:9
3DActive
Contrast ratioNot stated
BrightnessNot stated
Speakers20W
Video inputs3x HDMI (2x ARC), SCART, Component, Composite
Audio inputsNone
Audio outputs3.5mm, optical S/PDIF
TunerFreeview HD
Streaming TV servicesFreeview Play, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All4, Demand 5, Netflix (4K), Wuaki.tv, Amazon Instant, YouTube (4K)
Media StreamingDLNA
Dimensions762x1237x242
BUYING INFORMATION
Price including VAT£999
WarrantyOne year RTB
Supplierwww.currys.co.uk
Detailspanasonic.com
Part codeTX-55CX700B

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