It’s good to see Panasonic back at the top. The Japanese company has done extraordinarily well in the past, scooping nearly all our Awards in 2013 before faltering in the face of fierce Korean competition.
More recently we’ve witnessed a comeback, and the Panasonic TX-50CS520 is further proof of this.
What you have here is a no-frills TV with a 1080p resolution. No 4K, no 3D. Big screen, low price, pure and simple. This TV just wants to do Full HD really, really well.
That will sit just fine with anyone unwilling to fork out for little-used gimmicks, or who simply don’t care for 4K.
It is really good. Stunning, even. This is clearly not some budget filler hastily pushed out – this is a quality product. It breezes through the assault course set by Guardians of the Galaxy on Blu-ray: challenging contrast, a frenzied palette, plenty of textures and a few moving hurdles thrown in.
Contrast is superb. Panasonic was the champion of contrast with its plasma screens, and while this doesn’t quite reach that level, it’s remarkably good.
Dark scenes get deep, naturally black colours rarely enjoyed by LCD panels. The Panasonic does a great job juggling light and dark at the same time, with brilliant whites that never wash out the rest of the picture.
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We tend to associate Panasonic with rich, vivid colours and that’s exactly what you get here. The picture is lovely to behold – vibrant enough to grab your attention without having to exaggerate.
The level of clarity is astonishing, and we find ourselves checking the price tag. What you get for £500 is just about as detailed and textured as you’ll get from a 1080p TV. It’s sharp and cleanly drawn without the artificial look of overly zealous processing.
Motion is capably handled too. The Panasonic is a smooth performer and has little time for the exaggerated, glossy brand of motion-processing.
We step down to standard definition with a DVD, and much of those laudable traits remain. It’s the same impressive contrast and vibrant palette. Clarity takes a hit – although there is not nearly as much noise as there could be.
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We hesitate to accuse Panasonic of cutting any corners, but if they have, it would be in the smart TV department. Here you’ll find the same My Home Screen interface introduced in 2013.
It’s not as slick as WebOS 2.0 found on the latest LG TVs, My Home Screen has proved itself to be an intuitive and highly customisable system.
This is a hub that lets you design the layout of pages. Want a news feed and a weather indicator next to your favourite programmes? Knock yourself out.
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Overall, this is a stunning picture. And the sound is good too. We like the tonal balance and the weight offered, which never sounds overly harsh or compressed.
We love the Panasonic TX-50CS520. Its picture and sound performance (and user friendly interface) are at significant odds with that £500 price tag.
If you’re after a no-nonsense Full HD TV, you’d struggle to find better value elsewhere.
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