It can actually be quite hard to find a small 4K TV, not to mention one that will also handle HDR, which is why the the 40in Panasonic TX-40DX700B will be so appealing to people looking for a telly for a small lounge, spare room or bedroom.
Not all HDR is born equal, though, and while the DX700B will handle HDR signals, it lacks the contrast and outright brightness to make them truly sing.
Not that this is in any way a bad picture, you understand. On the contrary, whatever you feed it is displayed with natural, balanced colours, oodles of detail and lovely, sharp edges. It’s particularly adept when it comes to bright, outdoor scenes, which look realistic, organic and three-dimensional, especially when they’re being streamed in 4K/HDR from Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. It’s just a shame that when it’s asked to reproduce a scene with both dark and light - a flaming torch in a cave for instance - the punch of the light has to be sacrificed for the dark, or vice versa if you’ve tweaked the settings for peak brightness.
It’s that compromise that makes Horizon Zero Dawn look a little less thrilling Here the skies can look a little over-exposed and lacking in definition, and the sunlight bouncing off a babbling brook is a little less dazzling.
But, as mentioned, the Panasonic digs up plenty of detail and renders everything very crisply, all of which makes Aloy and her mechanical adversaries look solid and lifelike. And while the input lag of 50ms in game mode isn’t going to set any records, it’s more than fast enough for all but the most sensitive of gamers. All told, if you can live without that extra level of HDR punch, the Panasonic is a fine choice for a compact gaming display.
It’s a fairly thin design, too, making the DX700B easy to find a home for and, while the toed-in feet that act as a stand give the TV a slightly bandy-legged appearance, they also help to keep the overall footprint down a bit.
Despite the neat little design, the Panasonic’s built-in speakers are perfectly reasonable, producing a solid, relatively full-bodied sound by flatscreen standards, but one that doesn’t muffle voices. As always, you’d be wise to add a soundbar or soundbase if you can, but it’s no disaster if you can’t.
Mozilla’s Firefox OS takes care of the software side and is a perfectly pleasant, stripped-back and intuitive way to interact with your TV. It’s just a shame that Panasonic’s own menus (for settings and the like) are rather ugly and cluttered. But that’s nit-picking really, and the Panasonic is overall a very likeable little TV.