Panasonic Announces New Flagship OLED TV
Panasonic’s OLED TV story up to now has been highly focused on a message of faithfully reproducing the filmmaker’s vision.
The HCX Pro processors they’ve used have been developed in tandem with Hollywood creatives through Panasonic’s Hollywood Laboratory. For the past couple of generations one of Hollywood’s most experienced and acclaimed colourists, Stefan Sonnenfeld, has provided colour tuning for all of Panasonic’s premium OLED models.
All of this ‘as the director intended’ goodness inevitably continues with the new JZ2000 flagship OLED range that Panasonic has just announced at the ongoing virtual CES. Happily, though, it turns out that Panasonic is now seeking to combine its well-established film prowess with a new level of user-friendliness and a frankly rather overdue nod to gamers.
The 65 and 55-inch JZ2000 models both feature a new, more powerful processor that sees Panasonic turning to ‘true’ AI functionality for the first time. In Panasonic’s case, this means that an AI system has applied deep analysis to more than a million images to create a vast database of picture know-how the JZ2000s can use to more quickly and accurately identify different source types in real-time.
What’s more, once the AI-created database has worked out what type of content it’s receiving, the new HCX Pro AI Processor can then also draw on its AI knowledge base to pick the best combination of picture attributes to apply to the picture. The idea being, of course, that users will have to pay far fewer trips to the TV’s set up menus to continually get the best picture quality out of their premium TV.
On the gaming side of things, Panasonic has confirmed that unlike any of its previous TVs, the JZ2000s will support variable refresh rates, automatic low latency mode switching, and frame rates of up to 120Hz - all the key features we’re now getting from the new generation of game consoles and Nvidia/AMD PC graphics cards.
Panasonic has also reduced the time the JZ2000 takes to render images when running its new Game Mode Extreme preset to just 14.4ms - a 50% reduction over the HZ2000.
There’s currently some doubt over whether the gaming capabilities extend to support full 4K at 120Hz, and we don’t yet know how many of the JZ2000’s HDMIs will be next-gen gaming-friendly. Panasonic’s answer to my questions on these two points was simply that all would be revealed - including JZ2000 pricing - in March.
The JZ2000 also delivers a couple of potentially significant audio innovations over 2020’s HZ2000 flagship TV. The most eye-catching of these is the addition of two substantial side-firing speakers, designed to add more horizontal detail and scale to the already strikingly large soundstage the HZ2000 was able to achieve via its combination of built-in Dolby Atmos audio decoding and physical (rather than virtual) upfiring speakers.
It turns out too that the new AI system works on sound as well as vision. So, for instance, if it detects that you’re watching some sort of sporting event, it will set the sound into a virtual stadium mode. Or if you’re watching a documentary or talk show, it will set the sound to emphasise vocals.
One last positive new step for the JZ2000 is its onboarding of the new HDR10+ Adaptive HDR system. This combines HDR10+’s dynamic HDR data streams with input from the TV’s built-in light sensor to optimise HDR10+ pictures for the light levels in your room. This new feature joins the HZ2000’s support for the similar Dolby Vision IQ system.
Looking, finally, at key features, the JZ2000 continues from the HZ2000, the most important one is the proprietary hardware design that enables these flagship Panasonic TVs to output much higher levels of brightness - both across the whole screen and for HDR ‘peaks’ - than regular OLED TVs can. Let’s not forget, either, since it’s an approach we wish all TVs would follow, that the JZ2000s will join their predecessors in supporting all the current HDR formats, including HDR10+, Dolby Vision, standard HDR10, and HLG. There’s no political picking and choosing as there is with many other brands. So no matter what format a particular source might use, the JZ2000 will always be able to get the best from it.
I’ve spent the past 25 years writing about the world of home entertainment technology. In that time I’m fairly confident that I’ve reviewed more TVs and projectors than any other individual on the planet, as well as experiencing first-hand the rise and fall of all manner of great and not so great home entertainment technologies.