A Review of the Panasonic 50” 4K Ultra HD Smart TV 60hz-CX600 Series TC-50CX600U
Panasonic’s TC-50CX600U Veira TV is one of the company’s most affordable and economical models for 2015. With this in mind, buyers interested in this model should understand that it won’t offer a lot of the same “Wow” factor that you could expect from a wide range of other 4K TVs on sale for this year.
However, even for a budget model, the TC-50CX600U still has plenty to offer in terms of color quality, excellent 4K resolution, dynamic contrast and wonderful vibrancy. Furthermore, this TV is fully connected to the best sources of 4K ultra HD content on the web and to full web browsing features for doing more than just watching normal cable content. Additionally, there are personalization features built into the CX600U’s Firefox smart TV platform that make it even more attractive than it already is as a piece of high tech operating system software.
Nonetheless, the TC-50CX600U from Panasonic faces some stiff competition from a number of other lower-priced 4K TV models and while it delivers fine value, it may not necessarily be the best choice you could make as a TV in the starter model range.
Updated Nov 2015: Looks like this TV is no longer available for sale, check out the Highly Rated Samsung JU7100 or the SUHD JS8500 Series.
The Panasonic CX600U series of which the TC-50CX600U is a part have several great aspects of their design that make them worthwhile contenders for high quality starter 4K TVs.
First of all, there is the picture quality on this model and its cousins. It’s not at the very top of the pyramid but it’s certainly very good. So good in fact, that Netflix has given the TC-50CX600U (along with a number of other Panasonic models) its “Netflix Recommended TV” designation.
This recommendation means that this model is not only fully capable of decoding the streaming 4K and HD content provider’s video signals but is also instant in being turned on with the press of a single Netflix button built into the remote, can provide a quick resume of apps and a return to where a user has last left off in a piece of programming. Netflix also measured general video quality and the TVs regularity of app updating, for the sake of always having the latest version of Netflix installed.
The Netflix recommendation is a bit centered to the needs of that specific app and we can see that Panasonic and Netflix have set up something of a mutually beneficial relationship here. However, the streaming video service would not give out its recommendation to a 4K TV unless it also delivered some excellent functionality and picture quality. This is something the Panasonic TC-50CX600U pulls off on both counts.
The overall picture quality of the TC-50CX600U lacks some of the more advanced contrast enhancing and color spectrum/realism augmenting technologies found in Samsung’s SUHD TVs or Sony’s 2015 Bravia models but what you get here is nonetheless great at delivering on brightness, quality of 4K resolution and a high level of screen brightness despite this model’s edge-lit LED backlighting.
Finally, connectivity rocks in the TC-50CX600U. We’ve already mentioned the full Netflix streaming capability and because this is the case, access to other HEVC-encoded HDCP 2.2 protected video content is pretty much a default. This means being able to view 4K video from sources like Amazon Prime Instant Video and Ultraflix among others. Furthermore, the TC-50CX600U also comes with full web browsing via its evolved Firefox operating system and the excellent Home Screen 2.0 that comes with this. There is also the Xumo Guide, a built-in service for finding new content options based on specific customized criteria and intelligent recommendations from the platform itself.
We’ll cover other features under out Highlights, Visual Specs and Connectivity sections.
3.7 - 9 Reviews
The Panasonic CX600U is after all a starter TV model and without a doubt it’s not going to have some of the most advanced and robust visual specs and features found in pricier models. However, it does also come with a few flaws that are below the grade of even its budget price range.
First of all, this model comes with a native 60Hz refresh rate and, as far as we can tell, no simulated refresh rate enhancement like the Motion Rate 120 and 240 found in all of Samsung’s TVs. Thus, while 60Hz is pretty good for a lot of movie and content viewing, it can also create some stuttering and glitching of fast-paced content which should flow smoothly during high-end 4K gaming (if you use the TV for this) and fast-paced 4K ultra HD video sequences. In essence, in the CX600U, the 60Hz you get is the 60Hz you’re stuck with, with no augmenting technology to boost it just a bit further.
Furthermore, colors could use some improvement. They look good in the CX600U but not nearly as good as what we’ve seen in many Sony and Samsung budget models that cost the same as this Panasonic model. This is unfortunate and Panasonic itself also cheats viewer expectations by claiming a 98% professional DCI (Digital Cinema TV color range) in their promotional material while actually coming up with only 90% DCI coverage in their raw specs. Overall, the effect is one of a slightly reduced color realism and a lower class of vibrancy, though color still look better than average for what many LCD/LED TVs offer.
Finally, the CX600U’s 50 inch version which we’re reviewing here offers a screen size that isn’t the best for appreciating 4K content. Yes, this is more of a starter TV and lower price means smaller screen space but with a 50 inch display 4K resolution and its 8.2 million pixels aren’t nearly as impressive as they are on, say, a 60 inch or larger TV display.
The Panasonic TC-50CX600U has plenty of features and quality to recommend on it and it’s priced well for more economy minded buyers who are just starting with 4K TV technology. However, the overall UHD TV market is getting competitive and there are superior Samsung and even Sony 4K TVs on sale that give this model a run for its money.
Screen size: 50 diagonal inches
Smart TV: Yes, Firefox OS with Home Screen 2.0
HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
Refresh Rate: 60Hz native refresh rate
Screen Lighting: edge-lit LED backlighting
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
Remotes: Panasonic Button remote
Connectivity: 3 HDMI 2.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, WiFi, WiFi Direct, Ethernet, Digital Audio Out, Digital Tuner Reception (ATSC/QAM), Analog Tuner (NTSC)
Sound: Full Range x 2 10 Watt speakers with VR-Audio True Surround
Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 1 million (real contrast ratio 2000:1)
Other Display Features: 4K Resolution Upscaling
Dimensions: 44.3 x 27.2 x 9.1 inches with stand/ 44.3 x 25.7 x 2.5 inch without stand
In the way of highlights, the TC-50CX600U isn’t nearly as decked out as some models we’ve seen. This, for the most part something close to a “standard issue” 4K ultra HD TV with a few moderate above-average features, mainly in its Smart TV platform, brightness and 4K upscaling.
Thus, the Firefox OS with Home Screen 2.0 is definitely a highlight of the TC-50CX600U and its cousins in the Panasonic 2015 4K TV lineup. Panasonic has certainly improved on functionality over what they offered in last year’s 4K TV models with their new Firefox OS and accessing apps, external broadcast channels and web pages in general is almost as easy as could be. The Home screen comes with a base number of circles, each representing a specific app or function and you can customize it further by adding additional circles in for the apps you most use. Overall, we’d have to call the Firefox OS and Home Screen 2.0 combo out as one of the three best smart TV OS platforms this year.
Next up, there is the Back Light Scan Pro technology for enhancing the full effect of the LED backlighting system on the TC-50CX600U. This technology genuinely works to make the most of this model’s somewhat limited LED edge array of backlights with a notably high quality of panel brightness. Combined with an IPS display screen, the TC-50CX600U delivers a remarkably bright and vibrant picture, even with a color range that’s somewhat weaker than that offered by, say, one of Samsung’s lower-priced SUHD or even JU 4K TVs.
Finally, the 4K upscaling engine on the TC-50CX600U is remarkably good. We’ve seen better performance in Sony’s and Samsung’s 4K upscaling systems but what Panasonic does with their version of the same is pretty solid. Full HD content from Blu-ray players and streaming sources or external media devices upscales to near-4K quality wonderfully, while 720p HD content also manages to look good, if a little tiny bit blurry at times.
The Visual quality of the CX600U is very good without being absolutely superb. In this area, Samsung and Sony’s lower priced 4K TV models definitely beat this one. However, the overall contrast, color vibrancy and clarity on the screen are definitely fine for most beginning 4K TV users.
The DCI color coverage of 98% is a bit overstated and some color washout can be noted, particularly for certain hard to reproduce tones of Red, aqua blue and emerald green. On these, Samsung’s cheapest and smallest SUHD TVs completely knock the CX600U out of the ballpark with their quantum dot technology. Likewise for some of Sony’s more affordable models with Triluminous display.
However, the CX600U does come with its above-mentioned Back Light Scan Pro LED lighting enhancement technology and an IPS panel design that work together to create excellent screen brightness, in turn making contrast pretty good too for the darker sections on the screen. Additionally, because this model uses IPS display, one feature at which it excels is off-center viewing quality. Even at very sharp off-center angles of over 120 degrees, contrast, color and clarity are preserved remarkably well. This is something in which the CX600U is an above-average performer.
Connectivity on the CX600U is robust, complete and pretty much representative of what you’ll find in most other name brand 4K TVs on the market today. This model features four HDMI 2.0 port with full HDCP 2.2 and HEVC compatibility and also throws in three USB ports, two of them being USB 2.0 versions and the third a USB 3.0 port for more powerful device charging and larger data capacity.
Additionally, Ethernet and WiFi connectivity provide a link to your home web connection for accessing the Smart TV full platform of web-friendly technologies.
The Panasonic TC-50CX600U is no longer available on Amazon.com. This is a very affordable price and sits within the range of prices for other similar, budget 4K TVs with the same screen size from Vizio, Samsung, Sony and Sharp. Check out the comparable Sony X830C or the affordable Sony X850C.
3.7 - 9 Reviews
To summarize briefly, the TC-50CX600U suffers from slight color range deficiency, offers a slow 60Hz refresh rate and lacks some of the Smart TV interactivity features like a touchpad remote, which are found in its more expensive cousins.
• Very affordable
• Great connectivity
• Bright screen
• Great viewing angles
• Decent contrast
• Great Firefox Smart TV OS
• Less than perfect color vibrancy/realism
• No touchpad remote
• Weak refresh rate