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The 47AS740's pictures initially puts on a pretty captivating show. Colours, for instance, look vibrant and rich, enabling images to really pop off the screen. The image is bright too, giving an added punch to the colours, yet at first glance while watching fairly undemanding day-time TV fodder the brightness doesn't appear to compromise contrast too much.
Colours contain strong levels of subtlety for an HD TV, which creates a decent sense of texture in the image despite the 47AS740's pictures certainly not being the crispest, sharpest HD images I've seen.
The 47AS740's pictures generally do a good job of avoiding softness too, and while I wouldn't recommend that you use Panasonic's intelligent frame creation motion interpolation system on its highest power level, it is at least good enough on its lowest setting to reduce judder without causing pictures to start looking heavily processed.
While the 47AS740's gentle soft approach to HD images may upset detail and sharpness obsessives, it's important to add that its slight softness helps it avoid the somewhat harsh, grainy look sometimes seen with pictures that favour sharpness more.
The 47AS740 also absolutely excels in 3D mode. Thanks to its use of the passive system its 3D images are completely free of crosstalk ghosting noise (so long as you keep your vertical viewing angle within around 13 degrees), colours and brightness levels look as punchy as they do in 2D mode, and there's a really natural, fluid look to 3D proceedings that's rare indeed.
All of this adds up to a 3D image that actually draws you into the action like 3D is supposed to, rather than distracting you from it as happens with all too many rival 3D screens.
It should be said that as usual with passive 3D on non-UHD/4K TVs there's a visible drop in resolution when watching HD 3D images, and curved edges can look jagged and 'stepped'. But the directness and naturalism of the 47AS740's ultimately shines through.
Unfortunately, though, the 47AS740's good picture work is at least partly undone by a predictable flaw: a fairly significant lack of contrast, or, to be more precise, black level response, caused by the use of an IPS-type panel.
You don't particularly notice this when you're watching typical TV fare in a bright room environment. But dim your lights and switch to a typical movie, with its much wider contrast range and greater use of dark scenes, and the 47AS740's contrast problems become impossible to ignore.
For starters, there's a distinct pall of greyness hanging over parts of the picture that should look black. You can address this to some extent by slashing the set's backlight output, but because the screen's native black level response just isn't up to snuff drastically reducing the backlight setting also results in dark areas looking flat, as they've had much of their shadow detailing 'crushed out'.
It's worth adding, too, that the extent to which you have to remove backlight brightness from the image results in colours looking a bit flat. And there's more. If you happen to be watching a scene featuring almost completely dark scenes, or fades to black, the TV tends to turn off its backlight completely, resulting in a distracting flickering effect as the lights flash back on again.
One final area to cover is the 47AS740's suitability for gaming - and sadly there's more bad news here. Panasonic's screen takes around 66ms to render its images, even having turned off as much image processing as we could find. This is around twice as long as we like to see, and as such could have a small negative impact on your gaming abilities.
Few TV brands work are doing as effective a job as Panasonic of simplifying the potential complexities of the Smart TV era. The fact that the home screen system not only makes it easy to find your content but also makes it possible to pretty much effortlessly customise home screen layouts for multiple members of your family is pretty remarkable.
The built-in camera means you don't even have to manually choose the right home screen for the person currently using the TV as the set automatically selects the right one for you. Assuming you haven't got the camera in its 'sleep' mode, at any rate.
It's worth adding, too, that the 47AS740's initial set up procedure is particularly well presented and organised, even extending to a spoken-word tutorial on how to get the most from the home screen interface.
It's perhaps a pity that the 47AS740's picture adjustment tools aren't presented in the same easy to follow format as the smart content features, opting for a more straightforward text list approach instead. But there's nothing overcomplicated to worry about, even though I would recommend that you should experiment with many of the set's features - especially the backlight setting, noise reduction, IFC and dynamic contrast tools, rather than just settling for any of the provided picture presets.
The slightly bulky feel to the 47AS740 appears to pay off with its audio performance, which is at least a small step above the weedy efforts I typically hear from today's flat TVs.
The speakers are sensitive enough to deliver impressive amounts of detail in a good movie mix without sounding hissy or stressy. The mid-range is powerful enough, meanwhile, to enable voices to appear with clarity and a nicely rounded tone, and the soundstage even manages to shift through a few gears when required to meet the needs of action scenes.
There isn't as much bass underpinning the action as I'd ideally hear, but at least the mid-range is strong enough to prevent the soundstage sounding as unbalanced and uneven as would usually be the case with bass-light TVs.
The £800 being asked for the 47AS740 seems pretty steep when you think that you can now get 55-inch 4K TVs (LG's 820 series) for the same money, or Samsung's impressive UE48H6400 HD model for just £549.
I guess the Freetime feature, which is still exclusive to Panasonic, might be a strong enough draw to enable potential buyers to see past some of the 47AS740's price hike. Its merely average picture performance, is hardly an ideal justification for the rest of it though.
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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.