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Although the 50CS520's 'my Home Screen' interface looks dated and can run a bit slowly at times, it's still the only smart TV system so far that's managed to crack the issue of delivering a personalised experience within a family environment.
It allows different family members to easily set up and access their own home pages customised to carry just the favourite apps each individual wants quick access to. You can also set up home pages based on different themes if you so desire.
There's nothing particularly 'smart' about the remote control you get with the 50CS520, aside from the welcome addition of a Netflix button at its heart to provide direct access to the world's leading video streaming service (welcome, assuming you're already signed up to it). You need to buy higher up Panasonic's range to also get one of Panasonic's smart remote controls - though to be honest, I haven't been a great fan of these touch pad-equipped remotes anyway.
Setting the TV's pictures and smart features up is pretty straightforward, with the only niggle being the need to set up a low-backlight setting for dark room viewing and then toggling between that and a more 'normal conditions' setting for more regular day to day viewing.
Thin, slightly plasticky TVs like the 50CS520 generally come with pretty significant sound quality strings attached. But Panasonic's model comes as a pleasant surprise, managing to inject quite a bit of both bass and treble detailing life into a good action movie soundtrack without leaving the mid-range feeling overly compressed or causing the speakers to phut or sound harsh.
Particularly welcome is how natural voices sound. They always appear to be a natural result of the environment they're appearing in, rather than sounding superimposed, nasal or boxy.
You can get cheaper 50-inch TVs than the Panasonic 50CS520. But you'll seriously struggle to find one that performs anywhere near as well for under £550 - especially one that also gives you a smart TV system as effective as this one's my Home Screen and Freetime combination.
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.