OLED pixels switch much faster than LCD ones. How much faster? Closer to 0.01ms.

It’s all about latency

All that’s fine, but it doesn’t make too much difference to gamers. What makes the real difference is the latency. That’s the time between when the TV or monitor receives the signal and when it displays it on the screen. If you’re playing a first-person shooter, you will be at a significant disadvantage if there’s a delay. And, remember, there is always a delay.

Back in the olden days with cathode ray tubes, the delay was almost zero … maybe a millisecond or so. But with some flat panel TVs I’ve measured latencies of up over 200ms. That’s one fifth of a second, but that’s rare. From my measurements, a modern UltraHD TV with its standard movie-appropriate picture settings typically delays the image by somewhere between 100ms and 150ms.

Consider that the average person’s response time to images – when you start to move after you see something happen on the screen – is around 250ms. Adding fifty per cent to that makes it hard to win games.

The new TVs feature an improved “Games” picture mode. This speeds things up enormously. Panasonic was a little coy on matter, but I wrested a figure of about 20ms from them. I shall try to test one if I get a chance. But if true, that’s impressive. Games modes on consumer TVs tend to exhibit a latency closer to 40ms.

There was a reason there were two side-by-side TVs at the Panasonic 2019 AV launch. Both were showing the same game play via a HDMI splitter. After a while they switched off “Game” picture mode on one of the TVs. Bang, it was clearly visible how hugely it lagged the gaming-ready TV.

Better sound

Panasonic also showed off three soundbars – all three come with subwoofers – and a new entry-level UltraHD Blu-ray player, the $279 DP-UB150. That brings the Panasonic UHD BD player line up to four models, including the magnificent $1,649 DP-UB9000. That one has now had Control 4 functionality added. That won’t matter to most consumers, but those who have automated systems could well benefit.

Panasonic 2019

The soundbars certainly lifted the quality of the sound from the TVs and have the added benefit of supporting Chromecast. That makes using them with things like Spotify easy.

Some of them also support Dolby Atmos. But that means they support the Atmos signals and can decode it. It doesn’t mean they can produce a truly impressive surround field. For the most part, the sound was full, clear and well balanced, but it all sounded like it was coming from the direction of the TV, not from all around the room.

So, there you have it: the Panasonic 2019 AV launch showed evolutionary improvements all around in the Panasonic product collection. In their various categories they remain in the top tier with one exception. The Panasonic DP-UB9000 UltraHD Blu-ray player isn’t merely in the top tier. It is the top tier.

Read more about these various products at Panasonic’s website here.