The Panasonic TX-65HX940 is part of the leading line of Panasonic’s LCD TVs for 2020, and is therefore blessed with much of the company's top TV tech. What's more, such is Panasonic’s HDR agnosticism that it has the added bonus of both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support, so you can be sure you're viewing the best available format regardless of streaming service or disc.
Alongside the 2020 flagship HCX Pro Intelligent processor, the HX940 enjoys a faster (100Hz) screen refresh rate over its less thoroughbred LCD stablemates and the benefits of Panasonic’s Local Dimming Intelligent Pro technology. That should improve contrast control by adjusting the backlight and LCD shutters to mimic the operation of thousands of virtual local dimming zones.
This year’s fleet has also brought an update to the company’s proprietary TV OS. My Home Screen 5.0 promises Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support, a suite of apps and some improved usability on previous models.
Build and features
The Panasonic TX-65HX940 is a tidy and decent looking set. It’s around 45mm thick with a nice even rear that should make it easy to wall-mount. Those using the dual stands will appreciate the choice of two positions – one narrow for smaller furniture and a wider one that should help to accommodate a soundbar. You’ll need a surface of at least 330mm depth for it to sit upon.
Screen type LCD with edge LED backlight
Operating system My Home Screen 5.0
HDR formats HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG
Number of HDMIs 4
Number of USBs 3
Optical output Yes
Dimensions (hwd) 145 x 84 x 4.5cm (without stand)
Weight 28kg (without stand)
The inevitable black rectangle on the front is bordered by a perfectly tasteful bezel of approximately 5mm. Around the back, you’ll find all the ports you need, including four HDMI sockets, all of which support ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and one of which is ARC (Audio Return Channel) enabled. There are also two USB 2.0s, a USB 3.0, a headphone/subwoofer connector and an optical output. It’s also Bluetooth-enabled if you’d rather go wireless for audio in or out.
Panasonic’s own My Home Screen 5.0 is simple and easy to use from the outset. Hit the home key on the fully-featured remote control and there are just four main choices – Apps, Devices, Live TV and Main Menu. You can add shortcuts to your favourites, which is handy.
Apps-wise, there are a few significant gaps. There’s no access to Apple TV, Google Play Movies & TV or Disney+, nor is there Now TV, BT Sport, Spotify or Tidal. It only takes a relatively small outlay on a media streamer to fix this, but it's a shame that that's necessary, particularly as it isn't with most of the HX940B's rivals.
Hit Live TV and you’ll head to the Freeview Play platform and tuner. It comes with a well-organised and usable EPG, all four of the UK catch-up services, plus a front page full of worthy content suggestions from the main terrestrial channels.
The Main Menu is where you find the picture, sound and other TV settings. As with previous incarnations of this OS, it’s a fairly long list with a few too many sub-menus. There's also quite the host of modes and technologies to get your head around, although it’s good to see that Panasonic has taken the time to annotate them with explanations of what each one does.
The Panasonic TX-65HX940 is capable of an impressive picture performance, but squeezing that quality out of it takes a fair bit of patience and time, and that will be a bit off-putting to some potential buyers.
The picture presets are there to help shorten the process, but even the best of those doesn't deliver the full potential of this TV. Surprisingly, the Sport setting is the best of the compromises. This Panasonic is strong on subtlety but not the biggest on punch and the Sport preset lends a handy contrast kick as well as the best stab at an accurate colour balance.
But realising the set's full potential involves selecting the Custom mode to make sure all of the numerous and, for many, overwhelming settings and options are accessible. Teasing out that extra level of goodness can feel a bit like trying to crack a safe, but the rewards are worthwhile.
The opening scenes of Baby Driver on 4K Blu-ray are a really exciting watch. This bright panel creates wonderful views of the gloriously sunny city streets as Baby waits in his vibrant red getaway car outside the bank. The stone of the buildings is clean and detailed, and this TV’s shading skills bring a realistic sense of depth and perspective to the picture. Shots such as this give an easy sense that you’ve got something good for your money.
Motion processing is also excellent when the car chase kicks in. Nothing is rendered with any noticeable judder as Baby throws the car screeching round corners, even when the action is fast and close to the camera. We’d recommend putting the Frame Interpolation to the minimum setting when in Sport. Custom mode offers more granular control of both blur and judder on scales of between 1-10. Around three should hit the spot, but it’s well worth experimenting.
Dark detail is strong too. The elevator scene after the first job has everyone dressed mostly in black. All the folds and creases of Griff’s leather jacket are clear and there’s a decent difference in texture between that and Baby’s suede top.
What’s missing, though, is proper black depth. This TV needs its brightness set high to deliver any sense of dynamism, but the trade-off is that the backlight bleeds through rather a lot. The effect is uniform, at least, but you get dark greys rather than genuine blacks.
Moving to SDR requires another adjustment of the TV’s settings, but the picture quality is there to be had if you work at it. Watching something fairly neutral, such as 22 Jump Street on Blu-ray, we get that same zesty and inviting image as before. The Spring Break scene at the climax of the film is an appealing kaleidoscope of bright beachwear on golden sand and, once the white balance has been tweaked, the HX940 just about nails it.
You’ll need to be careful when switching to Full HD source material with a slightly more stylised aesthetic though. The push for punch in the settings that this TV needs tends to accentuate the flaws. Transformers comes across more noisy than it should and you’ll need to pull back on the contrast for something easier on the eye. If you can get a handle on that, this set scales perfectly well from HD and SD. In fact, when watching BBC News in standard def, this TV’s skills with subtlety do it the biggest service. Colours and tones are produced with more realism here than most at this resolution.
But regardless of the quality of the incoming signal, you'll only get the best if you're sitting fairly square to the TV, as viewing angles are poor. One armchair round from a central sofa and the already grey blacks turn even lighter and colours quickly fade. The issue is equally pronounced on the vertical axis too, so bear this in mind if you’re planning to wall-mount.
The best sound often adds a lot to the price of a TV, and external sound solutions are usually a far better option. Panasonic has decided to keep things on the economical side with the HX940 and fitted a standard two 10W speakers system to the rear. Users get some control over the precise flavour of that audio with Dolby Atmos, Bass Boost and Surround sound processing options, but the inescapable result is a presentation that’s clear but also thin.
Watching Baby Driver, there’s a lot to be said for that clarity. The excellent soundtrack is detailed and fairly rhythmic. You’ll never miss a word of the dialogue either. The trade-off is that music comes across a touch tinny and without much excitement.
The bigger problem is when it comes to the action sequences. This sound system barely delivers with the opening car chase of the film. There’s no weight or dynamism to get our blood pumping and that removes the feeling of jeopardy to the scene.
The precision keeps us very much in touch with the tyre screeches, the police sirens and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion soundtrack, but there’s a narrow feel to it all with little movement of the audio from left to right and not enough of a sense of separation to each sound within the stage.
After a while, all those bright sounds are quite hard to listen to. While clarity is king for TV sound, so viewers can easily follow dialogue, it doesn't take many minutes with this Panasonic to begin craving a decent dose of welly and dynamics. Ultimately, we want a TV that delivers both, but at least some of each is preferable. This TV leans too far in a single direction.
The Panasonic TX-65HX940 is a good TV, but it isn't a great one. The levels of dynamism, for both picture and sound, are shy of the very best at this price. The same goes for black depth and viewing angles, too, but there is a fundamental brightness and zestiness to the colour that make for an appealing and enjoyable natural performance.
The hard part is that unlocking all of that takes a fair bit of time and patience. If you’re looking for something that’s easy out of the box, then this isn’t the TV for you. Even if you do put the effort in, this Panasonic still can't quite reach the heights of the Sony KD-65HX9005, which is a far more accomplished all-round performer and is currently available for less.
- Picture 4
- Sound 3
- Features 4
Read our Sony KD-65XH9005 review
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