Panasonic has long been a leader in the premium TV space. We spent time with three new models from the 2018 Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV range.

GadgetGuy Thomas Bartlett covered the launch of the range here. He eloquently explains some of the tech from this 100-year old company. It is a good read.

In the OLED space was its 2018 FZ1000 in 55/65-inch at $4,999/$7,149 and the  FZ950U in 55/65-inches at $3,849/$5,999.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TVIn the LED space was its 2018 FX800A in 55/ 65-inch at $2,549/$3,299.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TVThere are lower cost models too – see the price list at the end.

The letter F at the beginning denotes the year 2018. Last year’s models have the letter E. All three TVs here share the same latest Panasonic technologies.

We have defined this as a ‘first look’- not a review

The TVs were in a perfectly crafted display suite at Len Wallis Audio at 64 Burns Bay Rd, Lane Cove NSW. These rooms have no reflection issues and good harmonics. All up I had a couple of hours with them.

As such this first look is limited to our initial perceptions of

  • Picture quality aided by 4K TV test patterns
  • Sound quality aided by a frequency response and decibel metre

It is hard to add that je ne sais quoi – that special thing that makes these great – without longer viewing.

First, some Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV range marketing terms

  • 4K Ultra HD means 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • 4K Upscaling means the ability to add extra pixels to 720/1080p content
  • OLED means Organic Light-emitting Each pixel is a light source and can dim independently. LG makes the panel and is similar to that used in LG, Sony and other OLED TVs. Its what Panasonic do with it that makes the difference.
  • LED means edge-lit Light Emitting Diode
  • Super Motion means 4 x 50Hz = 200Hz motion tracking
  • OLED Absolute Black filter means a filter over the screen to reduce reflection
  • 4K Pro HDR means it supports multiple HDR standards (HDR, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG)
  • Hexa Chroma Drive PRO colour management has 6-colour reproduction and a professional colour correction system for accuracy.

And more …

  • HCX (Hollywood Cinema Experience) image processor is the brains. Colour control combines with incredible black levels and a colour gamut of one billion shades
  • Dynamic LUT (Look Up Table) technology – used in Hollywood post-production studios – ensures colour accuracy.
  • Picture tuned in Hollywood describes Panasonics work with the film industry’s top colourists, image scientists and engineers to provide near reference standards in a consumer OLED TVs
  • THX and Ultra HD Premium Certification means these OLED TVs meet the stringent specifications required to receive the stamp of approval from both the UHD Alliance (Ultra HD Premium) and THX (THX 4K Display) quality control organisations.
  • My Home 3.0 is its smart TVB platform and includes voice interaction. It has Electronic program guide and personal video recording (PVR) capabilities. It includes Netflix, Amazon Prime now, Freeview Plus, ABC iView, SBS On Demand, YouTube, Bigpond Movies (and more!). Some provide 4K and HDR content.
  • Bluetooth is the ability to link to a smartphone or Bluetooth speaker/headphones
  • Wireless and cabled Ethernet Lan provides internet connectivity
  • Dynamic Blade speaker (FZ1000) is an inbuilt sound bar. If you don’t want it, FZ950 is your choice
  • Twin Tuner is two digital/analogue (DV/T) tuners for picture-in-picture or to watch one and record another.

I don’t want to sound trite in any way – each manufacturer has their terms for essentially the same thing!

How do they look?

Both OLEDs use the same panel and control electronics. As was to be expected they looked very much the same.

In the colour bar test, all colours were perfect. There was no colour overlap as seen on many LED TVs.

And no light bleed as they use individual pixel dimming, not dimming zones. This is impressive.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV
Reflectivity is an issue with OLED. You need a room free of direct light sources. The studio was darkened but had two downlights at the back. Note that the HDR enabled Samsung S9+ camera picks this up a little more than your eyes do.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

Greyscales were perfect. From pure black to white in almost perfect 3% increments. Sorry about the imperfect image!

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

Overall these two models are as close to perfection as you could ask for.

Next the LED. It is edge lit from the bottom and uses light transmission zones to do local dimming.  Again, the Samsung S9+ HDR camera picks up what the eye cannot see.

Colour bars were good but revealed a small amount of colour overlap and some light bleed. All these were within tolerance for LED.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

But full-screen primary colours revealed backlight banding. I stress that the camera sees this. Your eyes won’t.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

The camera reveals LED banding. Note HDR and other camera smarts were off.

For comparison here is the FZ1000 OLED colour test.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

OLED is perfect – no banding

Greyscale was a little more telling. Instead of the perfect gradient in OLED, the delineation became less clear as it moved to white. In other words, the brightness means you are more likely to see 5-to 10% gradients over the OLED’s 3%.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

 

How do they sound (note the term Squaker means mid-range speaker)

All tests were after a factory reset to default modes. Each test had the same signal tone and movie soundtrack. No matter what we did all recorded maximum 80dB sound. Where the difference lay was that the FZ1000 sound blade could sustain that level without significant distortion.

The FX800 LED has full-range, forward firing 2.0 speakers under the screen. 20W (2 x 10W)

The peak tone graph shows that it picks up from 1kHz (mid-range) and declines after 2kHz – a narrow band. What this means is that the speaker has a native mid-sound signature.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TVAfter Panasonic works its magic, we see the frequency response. Almost no bass, strong mids and recessed but reasonable treble. Still, a mid-signature more aimed at clear voice than movies.

The FZ950 OLED has 2.1 – 2 x Squaker, 2 x Woofer and a Quad Passive Radiator 40 W (10W x 2 + 0W x 2)

The peak tone graph is almost identical to the FX800 LED. It would not surprise me is the speakers were the same – only twice as many.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TVThe frequency response shows more work. Here we see upper bass kicking in at a respectable 100Hz, strong mids, and recessed treble. This is a warm and sweet sound signature. It more suits to movies, still with an emphasis on clear sound.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

The FZ1000 OLED Sound Blade has 2.1 – 2 x Tweeter, 4 x Squaker, 4 x Woofer and a Quad Passive Radiator 80W (20W x 2 + 20W x 2). Technics tune it.

The peak tone graph shares many similarities but shows bass from 100Hz and what appears to be tweeters kicking in at higher volumes.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

The frequency response shows some sub-100Hz bass, higher levels of mids and trebles. It is still warm and sweet (easy listening) but is trying for a ‘brighter’ and more controlled sound. This induces a little harshness at maximum volume.

Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV

Personally, while the sound from all is perfectly acceptable, I would invest in a 3.1 to 5.1 soundbar (both have Left/Centre/Right channels and a sub-woofer. The latter adds to rear speakers for better surround sound.

Panasonic 2018 Blu-ray players

The range includes

  • DP-UB320, $329, HCX processor, 4K, Upscale
  • DP-UB420, $449 as above with Dolby Atmos
  • DP-UB820, $659 with Dolby Vision 7.1 and Dolby Atmos (and the kitchen sink – the only one to buy!)
  • There is a UB-9000 reference device coming later this year at $1,649

GadgetGuy’s take. What have I learnt about Panasonic premium 4K OLED and LED 2018 TV?

Well, first some advice to Panasonic. Trying to review three TVs in a couple of hours loses all the nuances. And of course all the fun you have when you review a single TV over a week or three.

I could not fully investigate My Home 3.0. This allows further customisation of the home screen for access to on-demand or streaming services, and frequently used web browsers, apps and devices.

Nor could I sit back and enjoy the view. I know these work via Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa – Nuff said!

It was instructive to see the LED in the same room as the OLED. Frankly, I found all TVs excellent and the LED precisely performed the way I have seen other brands do. Banding, less grey-scale and more saturated colours.

As a movie buff I would invest in the DP-U820 Blu-ray Player. It decodes Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. And a thumping big Dolby Atmos sound bar – either a 5.1.2 or 5.1.4 for enhanced spatial sound.

The FZ950U OLED is my favourite. It allows you to use a soundbar. But the FX800 was impressive for a LED as well. It is probably more suited for an expansive, well-lit lounge environment.

AVAILABILITY AND PRICING

MODEL AVAILABLE RRP
OLED Models
TH-65FZ1000U July 2018 $7149
TH-55FZ1000U July 2018 $4999
TH-65FZ950U July 2018 $5999
TH-55FZ950U July 2018 $3849
4K PRO HDR UHD LED LCD Models
FX800 Series
TH-65FX800A June 2018 $3299
TH-55FX800A June 2018 $2549
TH-75FX780A April 2018 $5499
FX700 Series
TH-65FX700A May 2018 $3149
TH-55FX700A May 2018 $2049
FX600 Series
TH-65FX600A May 2018 $2749
TH-55FX600A May 2018 $1749
TH-49FX600A May 2018 $1549
TH-43FX600A May 2018 $1199
Full HD Core Models
FS500 Series
TH-40FS500A May 2018 $999
TH-32FS500A May 2018 $659
TH-32F400A March 2018 $449

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