Panasonic pushes the picture envelope with premium FZ950 and FZ800 HDR10+ 4K OLED TVs

posted on Sunday, 7th January 2018 by Steve May

Panasonic  4K  OLED  HDR  CES 2018 

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Panasonic has unveiled two new OLED TV models at a pre-CES press briefing held in Hollywood. Its new TX-FZ950 and TX-FZ800 screens will launch spring 2018, in 55- and 65- screen sizes. Both will support HDR10+ dynamic metadata, but not Dolby Vision. Panasonic says it intends to further broaden support of HDR10+ to “other products.” The smart money suggests that HDR10+ compatibility will feature on the brand’s lower cost 2018 LED LCD screens, but that has yet to be confired. The benefits of HDR10+ are said to be significant on cheaper HDR sets with limited peak brightness.

The new TX-FZ950 and TX-FZ800 OLED screens are built around the latest 2018 panels, which reportedly herald small incremental improvements over the brand’s 2017 offerings. In the UK, the TVs will be named TX-FZ952 and TX-FZ802, to signify that they use a Freeview Play tuner. Last year’s EZ1002 model lives on, but only in its 77-inch guise. Both new models will ship with Ultra HD Premium and THX certification.

Panasonic OLED TV FZ950_65_Front

At the heart of the new screens is a second generation HCX image processor, which introduces a number of refinements designed to improve image quality. The most dramatic of these is a Dynamic LUT (Look Up Table), which significantly improves the accuracy of bright colours. Working with an expanded colour Look Up Table, the set analyses a histogram of the incoming signal, updating colour information constantly.

Until now, LUTs are fixed to the colour space used by the source; on these sets the HCX processor automatically monitors the average brightness level of a scene and uses picture analysis to dynamically load an appropriate LUT.

A comparison with a 2017 EZ1000 revealed a picture with far more visual pop and zing. ‘It’ll get even better. We're still tunning the image,’ declared Paul Williams, Assistant General Manager. To improve colour accuracy in shadows, Panasonic has also included additional layers of LUT data at much darker levels.

Panasonic OLED TV FZ800_65_Front

Panasonic has also extended the range and reduced the interval between calibration steps at the darkest end of the RGB and gamma scales. The TX-FZ950 and TX-FZ800 (pictured above) both support ISF calibration settings and new calibration points at 5 per cent and 2.5 per cent luminance.

To ensure that the screens match the director’s creative intent, Panasonic has been working with Hollywood giant Deluxe and its post-production studios Company 3, EFILM and Encore. Currently sixty EZ1000 Panasonic OLED TVs have been installed in Deluxe’s post production bays, as a consumer reference screen.

Unlike their OLED predecessors, there is no difference in picture performance between the two models. They share identical panels, Absolute Black Filter and HCX image processing. The key differences only relate to onboard sound options.

The FZ950 ships with a new version of the ‘Tuned by Technics’ Dynamic Blade speaker. “Our research shows that not all buyers of premium OLED TVs have a separate sound system to use with them,” European marketing manager Craig Cunningham told Inside CI. “They are looking for a sound solution like this.” The soundbar boasts eight multiple speaker units (four larger woofers, four squawkers and two tweeters, plus a quad passive radiator to boost bass) and 40 per cent increased volume.

Cunningham also confirmed to Inside CI that the TVs would continue to use the My Home Screen smart platform. “Its simplicity is a major attraction for users,” he says. Cunningham adds that there is now a clear divide between the premium end of the TV market, which has migrated to OLED, and low cost LED LCD TVs. He describes the middle ground of premium-priced LCD TVs as a “No man’s land.” 

Further information on Panasonic’s TV plans will be released at the brand’s dealer convention in February.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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