One of the opportunities offered to me as part of the Viera VIP programme was the chance to try out one of Panasonic’s 2015 Viera Smart TVs in my own home. Panasonic lent us the Viera TX-50CX802B 4K television for two weeks, and during that time we got to put it through its paces and see what we thought of it. Having previously tested one of the 2013 Viera models I was keen to see how the range had developed with a brand new 2015 model.
Being a review unit the television was delivered to us in a large crate rather than the usual packaging you’d see if you bought it from the shop. This added to the fun and games as it was quite tricky getting it in and out of the house. But once we’d sorted that we found the initial assembly very easy indeed. The television comes with a little stand, which is a curved bar that fixes at the bottom, and it was just a case of aligning that and tightening two screws each side and we were ready to go.
There are a good number of different connections on the back of the Viera TX-50CX802B, allowing you to connect almost any device you might have thought possible. Three HDMI connections, plus aerial, satellite, video camera and SCART for starters, plus you can also connect up to three USB devices, and there’s an SD card slot as well! The television has built-in WiFi, but also has a socket for a network cable connection if you prefer to wire it in to your network.
The number one most important factor in assessing a television is the picture quality as far as I am concerned. The Viera TX-50CX802B has an absolutely gorgeous 4K screen which has great clarity, really good differentiation of lights and shades, and it was an absolute joy to watch. This television benefits from Panasonic’s 4K Studio Master technology, which is something they’ve worked closely with Hollywood film editors on in order to achieve a picture as close to the director’s intentions as possible. This is the first television I’ve reviewed which I’ve found better than my existing one, and the whole family were very sad when it had to go back to Panasonic! We watched video from a variety of sources, including our Mac Mini media centre, the Apple TV and the Wii U, and in all cases could find nothing to fault in the television’s performance.
The 2015 Viera televisions feature built-in Freeview Play, which allows you to scroll backwards in time on the Freeview TV guide to watch any shows you have missed on catch up. This is a great, seamless experience, and makes catchup television much more accessible. Unfortunately we couldn’t test this feature out because, although the catchup television itself is streamed via the internet connection, you can’t access the Freeview TV guide unless you have an aerial cable connected, and we don’t have a working aerial connection in our house.
One feature of the Viera TX-50CX802B that we made a lot of use of was its ability to play videos “cast” from our mobile devices via a technology called DLNA. This is like having a Chromecast device built right in to the television – on any apps that support it you can choose to show the video content on a remote device rather than your device screen. This enabled the kids to watch content from the YouTube Kids app on the big screen for example.
One of the features I was most keen to test with the TX-50CX802B was the new, vastly-improved user interface. Whilst we’d managed to navigate our way around the older Viera interface with no troubles when we tested out the last model, I’d heard a lot about the new interface through my previous conversations with Panasonic and was keen to see if it was as easy to use as it appeared it would be. And it really was. Pressing the “menu” button on the remote control brings up an overlay menu with big, friendly circular buttons. By default this allows you to switch between live TV, apps and other connected devices, but you can customise this menu really easily and “pin” your frequently-accessed options in as well. So if you watch a lot of Netflix, you can add that app to the menu.
Panasonic have their own App Store for the Viera televisions, and whilst it’s not as comprehensive as Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store it has all the most important bases covered. Personally I’m not really that keen to access Twitter from my television, but the option’s there if you want to. There is even a small selection of kids apps available to keep the children entertained.
Overall we all absolutely loved the Viera TX-50CX802B television, and as I mentioned previously we were very sad to pack it off back to Panasonic. It is definitely a television I would be very happy to have in my lounge permanently! Gorgeous picture, great functionality, and a new, improved easy-to-use interface make this a really great television.
The Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B has a recommended retail price of £1,199.99 (gulp!), but as with all things it is well worth shopping around to find better prices. For example, it is currently available on Amazon for just £689, which I think is an absolute bargain price for such a high quality television!
Disclosure: I was loaned the Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B television for two weeks, as part of my participation in the Viera VIP Club. All opinions are my own. The Amazon link within this article contains my affiliate ID – if you make a purchase after clicking I will receive a small commission payment at no additional cost to you. I recommend Amazon because I use them personally. All prices correct at time of writing.