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Panasonic Viera TX-47AS740 review: Performance doesn't justify the hefty price

The Panasonic TX-47AS740 has a stylish design and good passive 3D support but doesn't deliver on deep black levels.

Niall Magennis Reviewer
Niall has been writing about technology for over 10 years, working for the UK's most prestigious newspapers, magazines and websites in the process. What he doesn't know about TVs and laptops isn't worth worrying about. It's a little known fact that if you stacked all the TVs and laptops he has ever reviewed on top of each other, the pile would reach all the way to the moon and back four times.
Niall Magennis
6 min read

Up until last year, if you wanted a TV with the best picture quality, opting for a Panasonic plasma was a smart move. Panasonic, however, has now pulled the plug on its plasma TVs as there was no realistic technology path for moving plasma to 4K and consumers prefer the slimline dimensions of LED sets.


Panasonic Viera TX-47AS740

The Good

The TX-47AS740 benefits from the Freetime on-demand service that allows you to go back in time in the EPG. It also has a stylish design, good passive 3D support and perky colour performance.

The Bad

Panasonic needs to improve its implementation of Freetime to better integrate it with the rest of the TV's guide. A bigger issue, however, is that the set's picture quality suffers from poor black levels and below par contrast performance.

The Bottom Line

It doesn't deliver the deep black levels and rich contrast that we'd expect at this price. Add in the fact that its implementation of the Freetime on-demand service feels half-baked and you're left with a TV that just isn't worth the high asking price.

The TX-47AS740 is the first set we've seen from the company since it put the knife into its plasma business. It's a mid- to high-end full-HD TV, but one of its biggest selling points is that it now supports Freetime so you can access on-demand content from BBC iPlayer, ITV player, 4oD and Demand 5 right from the TV Guide. The set currently costs around £1,200.

TV guide

Panasonic's menu system used to look quite old fashioned and clunky, so it's good to see the brand has gone for a redesign this year. The fresh look is cleaner as it uses smaller, sharper looking text. As a result it also allows more menu options to be shown on a single screen. There are some improvements to the picture controls too. For example, you can now adjust the backlight setting independent of the contrast, something that you couldn't do on previous Panasonic TVs. This model also has a full colour-management system and gives you fine levels of control over its above-par upscaling and noise reduction system.

The menu system has been updated with a new, more modern design. Niall Magennis/CNET

Panasonic's old TV programming guide is still present and accessible via the apps menu, but you don't have to use it as it's largely been superseded by the much more advanced Freetime guide that not only allows you to see what's coming up over the next seven days, but also lets you to skip back in time to catch up on shows you've missed from the main terrestrial broadcasters -- Channel 4, ITV, Five and BBC.

Freetime was originally developed by Freesat, but here it also works if you're using the TV's Freeview HD tuner, which makes it much more useful for the vast majority of people. We'll cover it in more depth in the smart TV section of this review.

Design and connections

Panasonic's TV designs have never really stood out from the crowd, but they have been getting better over the years. To my eyes the AS740 is one of the best looking sets the company has produced. Its bezel, although not as slim as some, is narrow enough to look sleek and modern. I also like the simple elegant look of the silver finish and the thin metal stand the TV perches on is stylish and unfussy. Overall, it's not a set that draws attention to itself in a shouty way, but it does make its statement in a quiet, stylish way.

It's disappointing that Panasonic has only seen fit to kit this model out with just three HDMI ports. Niall Magennis/CNET

Annoyingly Panasonic has only given this model three HDMI ports -- most sets from rival manufacturers in this price range have four. That's hugely disappointing.

As you'd expect the TV does have a set of component inputs as well as a full-sized Scart socket. There's both Ethernet and Wi-Fi built in and Miracast is supported so you can mirror what's on the screens of compatible Android and Windows Phone handsets to the TV over Wi-Fi.

Smart TV

This model retains the homescreen-based smart TV system that Panasonic was using last year. It's also added support for Freetime. Previously Freetime was only available on Freesat set-top boxes , but it has now been extended to support Freeview, so you no longer need a satellite dish to be able to use it.

Freetime allows you to move back in time in the TV's guide to watch shows that have been already been broadcast. The concept is similar to the YouView system.

Putting Freetime on a TV is a great idea, as its interface is clean and simple and much nicer to use than the EPGs on most TVs, including Panasonic's previous offerings. It also gives Panasonic access to apps for ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5, which had previously only all been available on Samsung's smart TVs.

The addition on Freetime means the set supports on-demand services from all the main terrestrial broadcasters. Niall Magennis/CNET

Unfortunately the way Freetime's been implemented here suffers from a number of problems. Firstly, despite living with the TV for over a week, scrolling back in time on the main ITV channel never worked and always displayed an error message saying the service was unavailable. This was despite the fact it did work on the other ITV channels, such as ITV2 and ITV3. Scrolling back in the EPG doesn't work for Channel 4 or Demand 5 either. You can access these on-demand services via dedicated apps, but these are held separately in a Freetime menu rather than in the TV's main apps menu.

In fact the Freetime side of this set and the standard Panasonic on-demand apps just aren't integrated at all and feel like totally difference systems. So, for example, if you want to use 4oD you have to access the Freetime menus, but if you want to use Netflix you need to go to the Panasonic apps. Another issue is that certain features of Freetime aren't currently supported. The showcase element, for example, which is meant to suggest upcoming shows you might want to watch, doesn't work at present.

It's frustrating, because if Panasonic could improve the implementation of Freetime here and better integrate it into the rest of the set's software it really would have a winner on its hands.

Audio quality

The TX-47AS740 is pretty average in the audio department. It's not the worst LED TV I've heard, but it's far from the best either. As with many of today's slim-line TVs, the main issue is that its speakers just don't have the low-end reach to create convincingly deep bass.

Cranking up the bass in the audio menu helps, but bass still sounds pretty thin and boxy, rather than rich and full-bodied. Panasonic probably could have improved things by adding a mini sub on the rear, as some other manufacturers have done, but unfortunately it's decided against this.

This TV's speakers aren't really all that capable when it comes to reproducing bass frequencies. Niall Magennis/CNET

Also, the set's stereo image isn't very wide and even turning on the virtual surround-sound mode doesn't help matters much in this area. The result is that audio seems very tight and anchored towards the centre of the screen, rather than sounding as wide and expansive as we'd have liked.

Picture quality

Let's not beat around the bush -- the TX-47AS740 suffers from a big problem in terms of picture quality and that's because its black levels are pretty poor by today's standards. This also has a knock-on effect on its contrast performance with the result that its pictures lack the dynamism that you now typically get on TVs in this price bracket from other manufacturers, such as Sony and Samsung. In fact, there are times when its black levels look distractingly greyish, even in rooms that are not all that dark.

Most of this can be put down to the fact that the set uses an IPS panel, which struggles to deliver as deep black levels as VA panels. But it's also because Panasonic hasn't helped overcome the panel's deficiencies with any kind of effective dimming system.

The TV's black levels are poor compared to those offered on similarly priced TVs from Sony and Samsung. Niall Magennis/CNET

In other picture areas, things aren't that bad. Its colour performance is very good and it's got plenty of brightness on tap. HD pictures look as sharp and crisp as you'd expect and it also does a decent job of upscaling standard definition pictures without adding in lots of extra picture noise.

It handles motion reasonably well too. With motion processing turned off you get around 400 lines of motion resolution, but you can up this to the full 1,080 lines using the sets Intelligent Frame Creation mode at the minimum setting. It's able to do this without introducing tearing around moving objects or other distracting artefacts.

Overall though, there's no hiding the fact that this models picture quality is a let-down, especially given its relatively high price.

3D picture quality

Panasonic has a mix of active and passive 3D TVs in its current lineup, but this model uses the latter. This is no bad thing, especially on a screen of this size where the loss of horizontal resolution caused by the passive 3D technology isn't a big deal.

In fact the set puts in a relatively good performance on the 3D front. The light, flicker free glasses are comfy to wear and there's almost no crosstalk, which helps the 3D pictures look very solid and believable.


Overall, the TX-47AS740 just doesn't justify its high price. In terms of picture quality it can't deliver the deep black levels and rich contrast that even cheaper models such as the Sony KDL-50W829 can. It's also annoying that it only has three HDMI ports.

While its Freetime EPG is a great addition, and definitely something that Panasonic should persevere with, it still needs a fair amount of work to live up to its potential. If the price was lower, we could forgive it some of these failings, but as it is, you'd be paying a lot to get slightly worse performance than you could get elsewhere for less money.


Panasonic Viera TX-47AS740

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 5Value 6