It used to be that turning the TV on was a straightforward process – but now it's much less simple, and much more smart

It used to be you’d turn on the TV (and the picture would appear instantly). Then you’d choose between five channels. The remote control changed the volume, channel and not much more.

But things changed with the arrival of smart TVs, hundreds of channels, streaming services, phones that could throw high-quality movies from their tiny screens to the TV’s big one and radically improved picture quality.

So operating your TV grew more complicated and today the TV’s operating system is almost as important as the picture quality. The new 50-inch TV from Panasonic introduces an operating interface that’s simple but attractive. The Firefox system has graceful, flat icons to guide you to the source (such as DVD player, games console, Netflix or iPlayer) or channel that you want, and there are apps including an internet browser, Accuweather and a calendar with several functions. The success of Firefox is that it makes things straightforward, not confusing and is quickly navigable. The smart features on the TV also include the facility to stream what’s on the TV screen to your smartphone or tablet so you can watch in several rooms simultaneously.

The TX-50CX802 is a beautifully designed TV with pleasingly slim bezel and discreet styling – a metallic frame and curved-back stand. If there’s a fault, it’s that it won’t fit on every piece of furniture. The stand has legs at either end, meaning that unlike a central stand, it won’t stand on a table or other surface that isn’t at least as wide as the legs. Not a deal-breaker, but check the width of your table before you buy.

The most important part of any TV is the picture quality. This is a UHD or 4K set, that is, the screen has four times the pixel count of a full HD TV. UHD at its best is breathtaking, and this is UHD at its best.

Not least, that’s because this is a 10-bit panel where most TVs use 8-bit panels. I won’t bore you with the geeky technical details – what that really means is it’s capable of reproducing much more colour gradation, leading to more realistic, faithful colours given the right source picture.

The TV has Panasonic’s 4K Studio Master system which processes video in different ways from some TVs. Whatever the technology, the results are spectacularly good. And set to get better: features such as HDR playback are still to be turned on. HDR (High Dynamic Range) is similar to the process found on many smartphone cameras which combine multiple images taken at different exposures so that shadows have plenty of detail and skies aren’t blown out and white. Results are dramatic and exciting. But that’s for the future – even now the picture is outstanding.

Of course, though this is a 4K screen, there’s still precious little native 4K content to watch on it, growing though it is. Most of what you’ll watch is stuff that’s been upscaled, and this is another of this TV’s strengths. It can create a picture that looks flawless, even though it’s adding the extra resolution itself.

Sound is decent, even if not match for a dedicated soundbar. But it’s sharp and detailed, with vocal clarity and plenty of beef.

The price, for a 4K TV this size, is pretty good, too: it’s £1,499 from John Lewis, for instance.

Overall, with a combination of a stunningly good picture, good sound and a fun, inviting and easy-to-use interface for its smart TV capabilities, this is a tremendous TV with a lot to offer.