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Having been seriously impressed by the picture efforts of Panasonic's flat CX802 series, I had high hopes of the 65CR852's pictures too. But unfortunately it doesn't quite make the grade.
The main problem is that despite ostensibly offering the same level of specification as the flat CX802s, the 65CR852's curved screen seems to pose some extra LED backlight challenges that Panasonic's engineers haven't quite been able to resolve.
While watching dark scenes on the 65CR852 it's clear that it falls short of the CX802s in two key ways. First and worst, there's more evidence of backlight clouding in dark areas, especially towards the screen's corners.
This is always distracting when you see it, and trying to reduce the clouding's impact also requires you to take more brightness out of the picture than you have to with the CX802 series. This leaves you with images that look less punchy, as well as raising doubts in my mind over how effective the set might be with HDR content once that arrives.
After all, my experience with other HDR-capable TVs is that they tend to lock the picture settings to a fairly bright level when they receive HDR content, and if this happens with the 65CR852 I'm concerned that HDR footage will be accompanied by quite heavy amounts of backlight inconsistency.
The other issue is that the 65CR852 doesn't hit the same black level depths generally as the CX802s. There's always slightly more greyness hanging over the 65CR852's darkest image parts, reducing their sense of naturalism and also reducing the sense of wider colour dynamism during dark scenes, as colours don't have such rich black tones to stand out against.
Achieving the deepest and most even black levels on the 65CR852 requires you to set its Adaptive Backlight feature (which controls the potency of the LED lighting's local dimming engine) to its highest Max level.
Yet doing this can cause some other distractions in the shape of noticeable fluctuations in the image's overall luminance level.
The sundry backlight issues are made to look all the more unfortunate by the fact that, under the watchful eye of the 4K Pro processing, the 65CR852 otherwise delivers the same level of picture quality prowess as Panasonic's CX802 models.
Fine detail levels, for instance, are superlative. Native 4K UHD footage looks blisteringly detailed and full of texture, while upscaled HD content also looks clearly higher in resolution than it would on a full HD TV while not suffering with exaggerated source noise or edge-stressing.
Shadow detail galore
What's particularly excellent about the the 65CR852's detailing is how well it holds up during dark scenes.
Even though this curved TV doesn't go as deep with its black colours as the CX802s, the remarkable ability of 4K Pro to deliver even the most subtle greyscale differentials helps its dark scenes look far more detailed than they do on the vast majority of other LCD TVs.
The 4K Pro engine can also be felt throughout the 65CR852's colour handling, as it reproduces everything from the most subtle of skin tones to the most dynamic of animated movies with a gorgeous combination of natural toning and truly exceptional nuancing.
This deftness of colour reproduction plays a significant role in underlining the advantages of the screen's native 4K UHD pixel count.
The 65CR852 isn't quite as assured with its motion handling as some rivals - especially Sony. The immense sharpness of static elements of the TV's pictures does slightly highlight some gentle blurring over fast-moving objects in the frame.
But the issue is pretty minor in truth - especially as Panasonic's motion processing is able to improve things a little without causing serious unwanted side effects.
The way 4K Pro clearly loves the smaller things in AV life means it sometimes produces images of exquisite beauty that will have the sort of AV fan who used to love Panasonic's plasma TVs salivating.
However, the backlight issues certainly won't be familiar to those plasma fans.
And there are unfortunately a couple of other negative points to raise before we're done. First, 3D on the 65CR852 looks frankly shocking. The amount of crosstalk ghosting noise visible over almost every frame of a 3D source is just horrible, making watching even a few minutes of 3D feel tiring and headache-inducing.
To be fair, the 65CR852's 3D pictures look bright, colourful and detailed too. But the impact of the crosstalk is so excessive that looking through it to find the 3D strengths requires an effort of will nobody not being paid to test a TV will be willing to take on.
Does the curve help or hinder?
The other issue is that I don't really feel that the curve brings much positive to the table.
In fact, if you watch it from an angle the curve causes extra geometry issues you don't get with a flat screen. Also, while Panasonic has actually done a decent job of suppressing reflections on the 65CR852's screen, when they do appear the curve causes them to distort across more of the screen area than happens with a flat TV.
I guess if you're sat so close to the 65CR852 that it pretty much fills your field of view then its curved nature can help you feel a little more immersed in what you're watching. But most living rooms will struggle to deliver such a 'sweet spot' seating position.
So in the end it's hard to escape the feeling that the 65CR852 delivers an overall worse picture experience than its flat CX802 equivalents while at the same time costing more.
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John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.