Panasonic TX-50CX700 review

This metallic mid-ranger with Firefox and blade-like feet puts 4K at the forefront

Panasonic TX-50CX700
Metallic 4K mid-ranger

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From a user point of view, smart TV has thus far been a huge failure.

Every year or so for the past six or seven we've seen TV manufacturers bring forth their latest attempt, usually to an apathetic response. That all changes with Panasonic's employment of a Firefox OS for 2015.

It may not mean a smart packed with content – it can't, for instance, match Android TV's access to the Google Play Store et al – but it does mean a TV that, for once, presents a joined-up user interface.

The Firefox OS – officially called my Home Screen 2.0 by Panasonic – is exceptionally well designed.

Minimalist yet functional, and very colourful, it abandons the habit among smart TV platform designers of having one major hub page, and instead relies on carousels of icons that allow live TV to continue playing underneath. It's really easy to use and customise.

Panasonic TX-50CX700

Press the home button and you instantly get three icons appearing in the middle of the screen; Live TV, Apps, and Devices. Crucially, you can add whatever you want to those three with just a couple of touches of the remote.

In under a minute I had shortcuts up there for BBC1, a Blu-ray player connected to HDMI, the Netflix app, and the BBC iPlayer.

There are though two slight downsides to Firefox OS, aside form the lack of content.

The first is that the TV's central menus for tweaking sound, picture, etc, remain separate (though they're smoother to use than in previous years). The second is the Info Pane, a feature that only comes to life if you depress the Home button for a few seconds.

It puts arrows on each of the four sides of the screen, giving one-touch access to things that really don't need such a treatment. The transparent digital TV channel roster is good, admittedly, but the other three – drop-downs for weather, notifications (of what we don't know – it's always empty) and a recommended section (that rather bizarrely offers thumbnails of random videos from YouTube and on the Viewster app).

Info Pane is worth skipping, though I'm pretty sure 90% of users of the TX-50CX700 will never once notice it, apart from by accident.

Happily, the Firefox OS is powered by a quad core processor, which makes everything speedy and a joy to operate. Ditto the remote control, which apart from the rather too easy-to-access placement of a Netflix shortcut (which I engaged by mistake about six times) is fantastically simple to use.

However, there was a couple of flies in the ointment during my review.

Oddly for a Firefox OS TV, the web browser is poor. Let's put that in perspective; we have never seen a good web browser on a TV. However, the Firefox effort changes nothing, which was slightly unexpected.

Though the TX-50CX700 claims to play everything from AVI, MKV and MP4 to WMV, FLV and 3GPP video files – as well as almost every audio file format you've ever heard of – the USB sticks we inserted into its side were consistently not recognised, and never once appeared on the Devices list.

However, I did manage to get an SD Card to engage, from which I managed to play a vast swathe of video files including 4K video files in the MP4 and TS format, though not uncompressed MOV.

As a bonus, the TX-50CX700 can record from Freeview HD channels to a USB stick or HDD, and trade files back and forth via the Swipe & Share feature on a phone or tablet installed with Panasonic TV Remote 2 app for iOS or Android.

Swipe & Share also lets you second-screen live TV and recorded TV from the TX-50CX700.

Sound quality

The TX-50CX700 does have two 20W speakers, and though they're nothing special, provide more than enough punch for everyday TV watching.

Forget the quasi-surround mode – it doesn't work and only serves to increase the volume of background noise in soundtracks – instead head for the music preset, which is easily the most detailed.

Vocals sounds fine whatever the preset used, and the volume can be pushed up to near maximum levels without much distortion. However, as usual the TX-50CX700's speakers lack the mid-range required for movies, so I would recommend using its optical digital output and hooking-up a home cinema or a sound-bar.

It's there for a reason.


While the TX-50CX700 is good value overall, I'm sure almost all potential buyers would be more easily swayed by a fourth HDMI input, especially considering that almost all of this TV's competitors will have just that.

Still, that's a small criticism for a TV as fully-featured as the TX-50CX700.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and He also edits two of his own websites, and that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),