Japanese manufacturer Panasonic have long been a firm favourite of ours at the Bristol store due to their award-winning LED screens, including last year’s TX40DX600B (predecessor to the TX40EX600B and 2016 What Hi-Fi? award winner). So as you can imagine, we’re all a little bit excited to learn how the 600 series has evolved for 2017 against stiff competition.
The DX600B was Panasonic’s entry-level 4K screen last year, with its UHD resolution it also had an HD tuner, a smart hub that included Freeview Play catch-up services and a pleasing design that gave a premium feel without the price tag. Naturally, it didn’t give you all the bells and whistles you could ask for (what TV could at that price?) but what it did give you was great value and impressive specs for the money.
The TX40EX600B continues on from where the DX600B left off with the aforementioned features and more than enough builds on them to be a very reasonable improvement and evolution in the series. Panasonic’s Firefox OS smart platform is retained, as are smart hub regulars Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Freeview Play. All three HDMI ports are enabled for HDCP2.2 (compatibility for 4K sources in other words) as opposed to only two on the DX600B. More pleasing though is the fact that the EX600B also supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) and the coming 4K transmission encoding – HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma). Considering that a lot of 4K content is also HDR enabled this is a great feature for Panasonic to add to the range.
Naturally, the first thing to do after powering on and going through the usual setup is to stick on a 4K Blu-ray and luckily for us, a copy of Planet Earth 2 had just been delivered that morning! The combination of maximum detail and the wider colour space and contrast that HDR gives us is stunning. You really feel like you’re swimming through tropical waters with a pygmy three-toed sloth or standing there as a snow leopard pads through the mountains. Switching to 1080p content thankfully still seems nicely detailed, but if you move closer to the screen the difference in quality is noticeable. Putting on some fast moving content such as highlights of the 2016 F1 season show that the EX600B is no slouch with motion either as it’s been improved from 800hz to 1300hz BMR (Backlight Motion Rate) processing. This is something that you may feel you’d like to utilise on lower quality content such as SD channels but you won’t need to have Panasonic’s “Intelligent Frame Creation” set more than the “low” option within the picture settings.
The Firefox OS smarthub makes things as simple as ever to navigate through your on-demand video services. As before, the “Home” button allows a translucent page to pop up where you can place your favourite apps, channels and devices so that they’re close at hand. Further to this, if you really want to make the most of the smarthub, download Panasonic’s “Swipe and Share” app so that you can send content from your smartphone or tablet to the TV.
As with most screens, the sound leaves a bit to be desired but Panasonic have always been better in this regard than some and the settings in the sound menu will allow you to change bass and treble along with giving you some presets to try out. Like any TV though, you’ll want to be looking at a nice soundbar to boost the audio to match the quality of the picture. Both digital optical and a headphone socket are available so regardless of the connection it should be easy to plug something in and be up and running quickly.
Just as the previous few years have shown us, Panasonic is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the 4K market and the TX40EX600B is no exception. Come in and visit your local store to see for yourself what the new 2017 range has to offer.
Author: Steve, Bristol store