Panasonic DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review: Best all-round TV ever?
Best all-round TV ever? Panasonic's TH-65DX900U is both huge and hugely impressive.
- Great all-round performance
- True blacks displayed most of the time
- Best upscaling we've seen
- Great sound
- Massive unit
- Very expensive
- Occasional, minor halo issues (glowing areas on dark backgrounds)
Most TVs have a weakness of some kind. This one has got it where it counts in all key areas: contrast, upscaling, picture quality and usability. But it's huge and so is the price.
We’ve tested most TVs on the market recently but whenever a review model goes back, we revert back to our six-year-old Panasonic plasma. The tragic thing is that it’s often better than the latest and greatest TVs because of its ability to display true blacks and its excellent upscaling. But switching back also provides a stark reminder of how the colours have faded over time and are way behind the vibrancy that we see with recent Hisense, Samsung and LG OLED TVs.
At some point Samsung managed to convince everyone that a super-thin LED LCD TV was the one to buy irrespective of major image issues revolving around upscaling and the soap opera effect. Plasma died and Panasonic became a minor player.
I’ve been sad about that for a while. But then this massive 65-inch Panny monolith arrived at my house. It’s not a plasma but it’s a rear-lit LED LCD TV which means that it’s much thicker than most side-lit LED LCD competitors and as such weighs a lot more – 34.5KG without stand and 42.5KG with stand. As such you’ll need to pay attention to the surface it sits on lest it become a human-sized fly swatter. For comparison, a 65-inch version of the fantastic Hisense Series 7 ULED TV weighs 32.8KG (the stands account for just 1KG of that). This thing is big.
It’s also very shiny. This is the glossiest TV we’ve seen for a while and it’s pretty much a mirror when it’s not on. Fortunately, this is rarely a problem thanks to the bright and vibrant display.
But how does it perform?
LCD TVs operate by having a light shining through a layer of crystal that changes colour. This used to be done with fluorescent tubes but these were replaced with LED lighting. However, in the race to be thinner, the lighting moved from behind the screen to the sides of the screen. The technology doing this has reached black-magic levels of impressiveness with the likes of Hisense and Sony managing to produce amazing levels of true-black uniformly across a screen despite shining the lights in from the sides.
Panasonic says this of its backlighting technology: “The honeycomb design divides the screen into hundreds of ‘zones’ of individually controlled light clusters. These zones are isolated from each other to remove light leakage issues that can lead to a ‘light halo’ effect around bright objects.” There's an interesting demonstration video below...
Being able to dim specific regions of a screen is a better way to adjust contrast and produce better blacks – turning the light off means no light is leaking and blacks are proper black. Sony used to do it with its top TVs but they were expensive and died away. Now you generally only see rear-lit LCD TVs when screen size hits 75-inches+ and it becomes impossible to properly illuminate the middle of the screen from the sides. That’s why the price jump for huge screen sizes can go from $50 per inch to around $300 per inch (more on that here.)
Now Panasonic has brought that technology back to the sub-$10,000 space with its “honeycomb-structure Local Dimming.” And the improvement is noticeable.
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