Panasonic Viera TX-55CS520B review

Panasonic’s entry-level CS520 range is comprised of some of the cheapest Full HD, smart TVs available today. They all look like impressive value, but the 55in TX-55CS520 hits the screen size and price sweet spot.

For this review we tested the 55in model in the CS520 range, but it’s also available in 40in (TX-40CS520) and 50in (TX-50CS520) screen sizes. All models have identical specifications except for their dimensions and power usage. We’re confident that image quality will be practically identical across the range.

This is still a budget TV though, so if you’re after something stylish you should probably look elsewhere. The CS520, while not ugly by any means, is more functional than attractive, with no real design flare. It feels reasonably well put together and the stand is stable enough to survive a few minor knocks without falling over.

Image quality out of the box is fine, although it’s well worth delving into the many adjustment options to get exactly the sort of image you’re after. Of the five available image modes (Dynamic, Normal, Cinema, True Cinema and Custom), we found Custom to be the best starting point. It provided the brightest and most vibrant image by default, making it a great starting point for balancing RGB hue, luminance and saturation.

We always measure sRGB colour gamut coverage out of the box, and on default settings the TX-55CS520B managed 92%. Despite the option to tweak RGB colour settings, we weren’t able to improve this but in truth it’s not the colour coverage you should be worrying about. Contrast was sky-high at 5423:1 and black levels were incredibly low at just 0.04cd/m2. This leaves even the murkiest of movie scenes packed with detail and easy to watch. 

Panasonic’s intelligent frame creation uses the 200Hz panel to its best effect, drawing in frames to reduce the jagged movements created by slow horizontal and vertical panning. The Max setting was unnaturally smooth and Minimum didn’t quite solve the juddering in our Star Trek: Into Darkness test footage, but Mid provided a welcome middle ground.

Because of the size of the screen, any image noise is amplified, and while there are tools for reducing noise, we couldn’t get them to a setting where they were able to cover all bases – noisy images became a bit blurry and blotchy, and while this is probably preferable, it still didn’t look particularly good.

Image settings can be copied to other image profiles, and the TV remembers which setting you use on each input, so you can have different settings for your Sky box than you do for your PS4, for example. This is particularly important because with the various image processing options switched on, there’s a huge amount of input lag – we measured it at 133ms, which isn’t suitable for gaming. Fortunately, Game Mode switches off all image tweaking services and reduces input lag down to a more acceptable 55ms. It’s still not great for very twitchy games, but most casual gamers will do just fine.

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