After having flirted with the technology a couple of years ago, this year sees Panasonic go all in with panel technology, and who can blame them? OLED panels are capable of producing some absolutely stunning black levels, and they do it all in a terrifically thin form-factor.
But while OLED remains king, it’s also the king of the mountain price-wise, which means the vast majority of us will be using LCD panels for some time yet.
Thankfully Panasonic isn’t about to abandon LCD panels, and it’s continuing to work to improve its technology year after year. This year’s Panasonic TX-50EX750 is the perfect example of that. We saw it side by side with last year’s (note the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it switch from the ‘D’ to an ‘E’ in the model number), and what we saw suggests there’s a lot of potential still left in the aging LCD panel technology.
At this point any innovation in LCD screens are welcome – those OLED sets don’t seem to be coming down in price any time soon.
So here’s the thing: as televisions have grown larger and larger over time we’ve seen TV cabinets having to rush to keep up the pace.
Whereas previously you could have sat a television on pretty much any piece of furniture, nowadays you’re going to need a dedicated TV stand if you’re opting for anything bigger than 32-inches.
We bring this up because nicely the EX750 comes with a simple cross-shaped stand that will allow it to sit on just about anything.
It’s a minor point sure, but if you’ve been keeping your TV small for practicality’s sake, then the 50-inch EX750 will have no trouble fitting into your living room.
Panasonic is also advertising the stand as offering swivel and lift adjustment support, but from our demonstration the extent of the adjustments possible was minor at best.
But enough about the stand. The EX750 range is equipped with Panasonic’s Studio Colour HCX2 Processor, and it’s this, combined with the set’s backlight dimming, that creates its great looking images.
Colors are crisp and vibrant, and when stacked against last year’s DX750, black levels have also been markedly improved using Panasonic’s new backlighting tech powered by the HCX2 Processor (the same chip found in the higher-end OLEDs).
This backlighting technology means that the set chews through HDR content. It has support for both HDR10 and HLG, although unfortunately there’s no word of it supporting the more advanced Dolby Vision standard.
With Dolby Vision fast being adopted across the industry it would have been nice to have seen support from Panasonic, but it's not a deal-breaker for most.
The brightness of the back panel not only improves upon the shine in white areas of the image, but also has the added advantage of working wonders for the set's colors, which really shine.
The set’s interface has also seen a touch up. Last year’s Firefox OS might be long gone (due to Mozilla ceasing development on the project), but because the project was open-source, Panasonic has taken on development itself.
The result is the ‘My Home Screen 2.0’ interface, which is actually much slicker than its terrible name would suggest.
As well as offering easy access to a wide variety of apps, the interface allows you to group apps together into folders, so that you can, for example, group your various movie apps together to keep them separate from your housemate’s selection.
The set’s remote features a dedicated Netflix button, but it also features a second programmable button, which you can assign to open another app of your choosing.
Finally, along with the rest of Panasonic’s 4K line-up, the set features a game-mode, which Panasonic claims will halve input lag that can get in the way of a responsive gaming experience. We weren’t able to test this ourselves, but it’s something we’re keen to experiment with in our full review.
It might not be OLED, but the Panasonic TX-50EX750 shows LCD still has a lot going for it in 2017.
Whites and colors generally are bright and clear, blacks are surprisingly black for an LCD and the overall form-factor is nice and simple (in a good way).
The only question we have left is price. Panasonic wasn’t sharing pricing details when the set was revealed, but we’re hoping this provides a nice budget counter-argument to its high-end sets.