Panasonic FZ952/FZ950 OLED TV assessment

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There’s an excellent purpose that Hollywood video editors grasp on OLED TVs – they merely outmatch the rest in the marketplace. 

And whereas LG and Sony actually have their deserves on this space (the previous is the biggest producer of OLED panels in the complete world, in any case), Panasonic is actually no slouch on this enviornment. All you have to do is have a look at the Panasonic FZ952, the most recent OLED reference TV from Panasonic, to see why. 

Licensed UHD Premium with an identical seal of approval by THX, this 4K mannequin is offered in each 55- and 65-inch screens sizes (TX-55FZ952B and TX-65-FZ952B respectively) however known as the FZ950 in territories exterior the UK the place it doesn’t have a Freeview Play tuner, this OLED champion bristles with the tastiest TV tech that Panasonic can dish up.  

Design

Regardless of having a panel shared by lots of the high OLEDs this 12 months, the FZ952 is cosmetically uncompromising. A distillation of final 12 months’s EZ1002 OLED, it as soon as once more encompasses a separate sound bar, aka the Dynamic Blade Speaker. Nonetheless, this time, the design is barely completely different. The soundbar bolts to the central pedestal, and is tethered, through a chunky cable, to a connector positioned beneath the display screen’s brand. It cuts a particular silhouette, which units it aside from many different flatscreens.

Whereas the TV and Dynamic Blade speaker will sit neatly on appropriately vast AV furnishings, the panel additionally comes with another mounting equipment, which allows the soundbar to be bolted in a downward orientation for wall mounting. There’s numerous heavy metallic concerned within the mount, however somewhat neatly, snap-on modesty panels disguise the nuts and bolts. The top end result really appears fairly neat.

Connections are hidden behind a pop-off panel. There are 4 HDMI inputs, one with ARC; all are 4K HDCP enabled, however solely two are full bandwidth. Consequently, you may’t run Sky Q 2160p with 10-bit color into HDMIs three or 4. There’s additionally trio of USB ports (one a quick v2.zero for timeshifting onto an exterior drive), an SD card reader, element and phono stereo audio inputs, a digital optical audio output for exterior sound system use and Ethernet, to complement the on-board Wi-Fi.

The TV ships with two remotes, each acquainted from earlier Panasonic flatpanels. There’s a reassuringly hefty IR distant management, with a premium hairline end and devoted Netflix button, and a less complicated Bluetooth contact distant. 

Design TL;DR: With a slender bezel and slick bolt-on soundbar, the all-black FZ952 wouldn’t look misplaced in Bruce’s Batcave. 

 Good TV (Panasonic My Residence Display screen) 

There aren’t any large change to Panasonic’s good platform this 12 months. My Residence Display screen (right here in its third iteration), derived from the unique open supply Firefox OS, refers to itself merely as Residence throughout the tutorial and stays refreshingly lean.

A trio of buttons (Reside TV, Apps and Gadgets) present quick entry, however if you’d like extra, you may add on-screen shortcuts for different providers or inputs.

Freeview Play ensures a full vary of catch-up, together with BBC iPlayer, ITVhub, All4, My5, BBC Information & Sport and UK Play. The BBC iPlayer app helps MPEG Sprint and is suitable with Auntie’s Reside 4K streaming World Cup trial. As well as, there’s Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Rakuten TV, YouTube Chili Cinema. 4K and HDR is supported the place accessible. 

Good TV TL;DR: Clear and minimalistic, Panasonic’s good portal doesn’t strive too exhausting to be intelligent – and we find it irresistible for that. Freeview Play gives the catch-Up you want, and all key streaming providers are onboard, too.

HD/SDR Efficiency 

Straight from the field, this OLED impresses. HD SDR pictures are sharp, vibrant and naturalistic. The menus supply a wealth of presets – Regular, Dynamic, Cinema, THX Cinema, THX Vivid Room, True Cinema, Customized, (ISF) Skilled 1 {and professional} 2 and Sport – with deeper changes you received’t really feel a necessity to go to. The set’s image efficiency relies upon considerably on which preset you choose.  

The Regular viewing mode (sometimes called Commonplace by different manufacturers), is your best option for many content material, when goggle-boxing in rooms with common ambient mild. The Dynamic mode tends to over saturate colors, however can really look somewhat fetching, as does Sport. 

If you wish to take the wind out of the FZ952’s sails, choose both the THX Cinema or THX Vivid Room modes, or the 2 Skilled 1 and Skilled 2 modes. These subdue color and distinction, and usually are not beneficial.

Panel luminance is variable, and indicative of efficiency. Within the Regular and Cinema SDR defaults, it sits at 60%. Dynamic and Sport modes up this to 100%. THX, however, drops panel luminance to only 30% (dim, dim, dim), restoring it to 60 for THX vivid Room. True Cinema can be simply 30%. Skilled modes have panel luminance set at 60 and 30 respectively.

The set does an attractive job with Sky Q HD,  OTT streams and Blu-ray. There’s oodles of element and texture, and a richness to hues which is eye-catching. The Flash has by no means appeared flashier.

HD/SDR Efficiency TL;DR: All method of HD content material advantages from this set’s color efficiency and distinction vary. Each Regular and Dynamic presets actually ping

The sets soundbar can be completely removed if you'd rather use a third-party model

The units soundbar might be utterly eliminated in case you’d somewhat use a third-party mannequin

4K/HDR Efficiency 

The set’s UHD efficiency is fabulous, with excessive frequency element fantastically introduced.

When fed 4K HDR, all image modes lock distinction and panel luminance at 100%. Preset variations then come all the way down to color depth, sharpness and color temperature. The Cinema mode, which is unwatchable in a reasonably lit room with HD, is somewhat extra helpful with HDR. The True Cinema mode, expertly tuned to copy the identical image traits of a Hollywood mastering monitor, solely actually convinces in close to darkish viewing circumstances.

Broad color constancy borders on astonishing. There’s a degree of nuance and richness to its pictures that I don’t suppose I’ve seen pulled from 4K Blu-rays earlier than. Panasonic’s second era HCX Studio Color video processing can take a lot of the credit score for this. New Dynamic LUT (Look Up Desk) know-how, which always analyses the image data with the intention to enhance the accuracy of vivid colors, is clearly working some magic right here.

HDR help covers HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ though the latter stays an unknown high quality. There’s no packaged media accessible, and whereas ostensibly Amazon streams a few of its HDR as HDR10+, it’s not flagged so you actually can’t inform what you’re watching. Will HDR10+ ever actually develop into ‘a thing’? It’s removed from clear in the mean time.

The set’s HDR efficiency represents an enormous leap from what we noticed final 12 months from Panasonic. I measured peak luminance round 750 cd/m2 (aka nits) utilizing a 10 per cent HDR window, however decreasing this to a smaller 5 per cent window noticed peaks bounce to round 900 cd/m2. Given that the majority specular highlights are small and fleeting, it’s clear this set has no drawback dealing with HDR materials (which frequently doesn’t come wherever close to this).

However HDR isn’t nearly vivid peaks, it’s additionally crucially about close to black efficiency, and this set does a marvellous job differentiating element inside shadows and low mild scenes. Panasonic’s Absolute Black Filter lends pictures great depth. Who wants 3D when there’s such spatial delineation on present?

Lastly, in Recreation mode, the set gives a low picture lag efficiency of 21ms, in all probability sufficient to keep up an edge in Fortnite. IFC movement dealing with impresses, as long as you retain to the Min setting. Don’t use the Black Body Insertion mode.  

4K/HDR Efficiency TL;DR: Panasonic has critically upped the ante this 12 months in relation to HDR efficiency. Able to vivid specular highlights and very good low degree element, it completely nails 4K UHD. 

Sound

The set’s Dynamic Blade soundbar as soon as once more tuned by Technics, is definitely even higher than the model provided with the EZ1002. This revised enclosure options 4 woofers, a quartet of mid-range drivers, two tweeters, and a quad passive radiator to spice up bass. Mid-range readability is definitely higher than final 12 months’s providing, enhancing dialogue. It goes appreciably louder, too. 

If the FZ952 does sonically disappoint, it’s as a result of it lacks a Dolby Atmos decoder. In contrast to rival screens from Sony and LG, it will probably’t bitstream out Atmos audio to an appropriately outfitted sound system. This implies no Atmos from the Netflix shopper, or re-routed from linked sources, similar to a Sky Q or BT TV set high field. 

Different panels to ponder… 

There are wealthy pickings available on the rarefied finish of the TV market. When you hanker after a premium  large model OLED. LG has a bafflingly big selection of fashions. All bar the most affordable use the identical panel and picture processing tech, so make your choice based mostly on value, audio possibility and design. The LG C8 is a superb all-rounder, with a formidable specification. All key HDR flavours are supported (excluding HDR10+) and there’s Dolby Atmos audio. The rival Sony AF8 has a comparable roster of options, however provides an acoustic floor sound system, whereby the panel itself produces audio. 

Verdict

The FZ952 is a luscious OLED TV that places image efficiency first. Its color dealing with is class-leading, and HDR skills are a match for any of its rivals. Actually, it simply may supply the perfect image efficiency that I’ve seen on a 4K OLED to this point. 

The FZ952 isn’t the whole package deal, missing because it does Dolby Imaginative and prescient and Atmos compatibility, nevertheless it wins extra arguments than it loses. We suspect you’ll recognize the straightforward sophistication of its good platform, the standard of that low-lag sport mode, and the sheer musicality of the Technics soundbar. 

The FZ952 4K OLED TV is a bonafide knockout.



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