How to buy the best TV
How to buy the best Panasonic TV
By Martin Pratt
Article 5 of 7
With the promise of the world's most cinematic TV and a new processor to improve accuracy and detail, it could be a good year for Panasonic. We explain what's new with its 2019 OLED and LCD sets and how each series differs.
Panasonic is sticking with OLED for its 2019 range-topping sets and it's adding a new model, the GZ2000, which will feature a new processor and has been tuned by film-industry experts.
Its TVs will include Dolby Vision for the first time. This advanced HDR format works in a similar way to HDR10+, which Panasonic's TVs also support. No TV has been compatible with both formats before.
Both these formats are competing to be the new industry standard, and the fact that Panasonic has added support for Dolby Vision could spell problems for HDR10+; Samsung is the only leading manufacturer to favour HDR10+ over Dolby Vision.
Panasonic revealed the GZ2000 at the CES tradeshow in January and we don't know much about the cheaper LCD TVs that will make up the majority of its lineup. As we learn more about them we'll update this page with information of all the models and technology in them.
For now you can find out more about the TVs that have been announced for 2019 and look at the TVs released in 2018, which are still available and cheaper than ever.
Panasonic TV technology explained
New HDR formats and processors are just some of the features you'll find in Panasonic's 2019 TVs.
HCX Pro Processor
The update to 2018's HCX Processor can be found in all Panasonic's OLED TVs. In creating its latest processor, Panasonic has drawn on its experience making reference panels for movie studios. As a result, the HCX has been approved by Hollywood, according to Panasonic.
The HCX's principal job is to create more accurate, natural colours. This makes the image quality on Panasonic's TVs closer to the filmmaker's vision. We'll see whether those claims are true when we test the HCX-equipped sets soon.
Upward firing speakers
Dolby Atmos is technology that makes the audio sound like it's coming from above you or passing over your head. It's a feature that several TVs, including LG's, support - but without dedicated speakers sending the sound over you it will only ever be simulated.
The GZ2000 range is the only one to feature these upward firing speakers and according to Panasonic it's the first TV to do so.
Wide colour spectrum
The more colours a TV can display, the more accurate those colours should be, which is why TV manufacturers consistently up the breadth of colours a TV can display on any given frame.
Wide colour spectrum works with HDR and the HCX Processor to create more vivid, natural colours.
It's not in all Panasonic's TVs, though: just the FX750, FX740 and FX700 ranges.
All LCD TVs need a backlight consisting of multiple LEDs illuminating to create the picture on screen. Local dimming refers to the areas of the backlight turning on and off. The more areas of local dimming the TV has, the more control it has over what parts of the screen are lit.
This minimises lighter colours bleeding into darker areas of the screen. Local dimming pro, which should offer the best contrast, is only found on the FX750. The FX740 and FX700 have local dimming, too, but it's not as advanced as the version in the FX750.
The reason you won't find any of this dimming technology on the OLED TVs is because they don't need a backlight.
You can find out more about how OLED TVs work and how they differ from LCD models in our guide to OLED displays.
HDR10+ and HLG
All of Panasonic's 4K sets have two versions of HDR. HDR10+, which has also been adopted by Samsung, is supported by Amazon Video, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Paramount and Warner Brothers.
HLG is the type of HDR that broadcasters will use when they launch HDR channels. It's not so useful now, but given that most of us keep the same TV for years, it's good to know that it will work with the new channels.
You can read more about the competing HDR formats and how they differ in our guide to HDR.
Panasonic's 2019 TV overview
We don't know much about Panasonic's new TVs outside the flagship GZ2000, but we'll be updating this section with every snippet of information we learn about the rest of Panasonic's 2019 range, expected in spring.
While LG, Samsung and Sony are upping the resolution to 8K for their high-end TVs, Panasonic is sticking with 4K. It's a sensible move given the hefty pricetags attached to 8K TVs and the lack of dedicated content.
The GZ2000 uses the new HCX PRO Processor, which was tuned with the help of Hollywood colourists to make the picture quality as precise as possible. The processor will also improve brightness, which is one area where OLED displays lag behind LCD ones.
HDR is still a big deal in 2019 and Panasonic's high-end TVs support more formats than ever. The GZ2000s work with HDR10+ and, for the first time, Dolby Vision. Both formats work in a similar way by reacting to each scene and adjusting contract dynamically. This is something the current industry standard, HDR10, can't do. The reason to include both similar formats is because one is likely to become the industry standard and receive more support from streaming services and movie studios in the future. Having a TV that supports both means you are covered no matter which format becomes the industry standard.
You can read our guide on HDR for more information on all the formats.
It will be the first TV to have upward firing speakers, which work with Dolby Atmos technology to send audio over your head for a more immersive surround sound experience.
One of the most interesting things about the GZ2000 is to do with the OLED panel itself. All OLED screens are made by LG, but Panasonic told us that when it was designing the GZ2000 is spent a lot more time tuning the panels. It effectively got them from LG quicker, which meant more time for R&D and tuning to make sure they could accurately live up to Panasonic's vision of Hollywood quality footage that's more true to the filmmaker's vision than any other TV.
The GZ2000s will be available in 65 and 55 inches.
There are only a few differences between the GZ1500 OLED TVs and the range-topping GZ2000s, but they could be notable, particularly where sound quality is concerned.
Both ranges have sound bars intergrated into the design of the TV. They sit just below the screen, but the one on the GZ2000s was tuned by Panasonic's audio arm, Technics. The high-end audio brand is responsible for much of Panasonic's pricey hi-fi equipment and turntables, which can cost £1,000 or more.
The other key difference is with Dolby Atmos. Both ranges support the technology that specialises in spacious sound that appears to be coming from directly above you, but only the GZ2000 has upward firing speakers that will send the sound in that direction.
With the GZ1500s, that overhead sound will be simulated by the Dolby Atmos processing technology and the effect is likely to be less impressive, but not necessarily bad.
Picture quality should be similar. The GZ1500 has the new HCX Pro processor for accurate colours and precise detail, as well as support for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.
As with all four of Panasonic's 2019 OLED ranges, the GZ1500s will be available in 65 and 55 inches. The range is exclusive to John Lewis.
Panasonic has doubled its OLED output in 2019 from two ranges to four. The GZ100s are in the bottom half of the four when it comes to specs, which is hopefully reflected in the price, too. The GZ1000s, along with the GZ950s, could be affordable OLEDs; even at launch.
Dolby Atmos is supported, so the audio should have a 360 degree feel, with sound seeming to come from overhead, but the GZ1000s don't have upward firing speakers or a sound bar integrated below the screen.
This could mean the TVs in this range have inferior sound, but we've tested plenty of TVs without sound bar bases that got five stars in our audio tests, so it's not necessarily a sign of low quality.
HDR10+ and Dolby Vision are supported and the HCX Pro processor is built in, further cementing the fact that there appears to be very little to choose between these ranges when it comes to picture quality.
The GZ1000 range will be available in 65 and 55 inches.
There's very little to pick between the GZ950 and GZ1000 ranges beyond the design. Panasonic's website even highlights that the GZ1000 has a 'premium design & finish', but the 950s don't exactly look bad. In fact they look similar to 2018's FZ802B OLED.
HDR10+ and Dolby Vision are supported, so contrast should be displayed excellently on 4K content, and the HCX Pro processor should help the images displayed on the OLED screen look as close to the filmmakers original vision as possible.
Despite not having upward firing speakers (only the GZ2000 range does) the GZ950s are still compatible with Dolby Atmos audio processing. The effect of sound coming from overhead will need to be simulated by the technology, but could still be impressive.
The range will be available in 65 and 55 inches.
The GX920 is effectively the same TV as the GZ950, but with one key difference: it has an LCD display rather than an OLED one.
It's a bit of an oddity in Panasonic's 2019 lineup. Its metallic cross-base design, reminiscent of Panasonic's 2017 TVs, is completely unlike any other model in the lineup. There's only one model and it's a whopping 75 inches.
It's the only LCD TV Panasonic is releasing that has the HCX Pro processor and that's the main difference between it and cheaper, smaller LCD TVs below it.
Peculiar GX920 aside, the GX800s are Panasonic's high-end LCD TVs. Unfortunately they don't have the latest HCX Pro processor, but they do get the HCX processor, which debuted in 2018 and was only found in OLED sets.
Hollywood-quality pictures that are as close to the filmmaker's vision is the aim of the HCX Pro and it was the aim for the original HCX, too. That means you should still expect stunning detail and lifelike colours on GX800 TVs.
Contrast should be top-notch, too. Like the OLEDs, the GX800 range supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, the two most advanced formats that can adjust contract on a scene-by-scene basis. Along with the GX920, they are the only LCD TVs that do. Not just from Panasonic's stable either: no TVs from rival manufacturers support both.
The GX800s have more in common with the OLEDs than just HDR formats: they support Dolby Atmos sound processing technology, so the audio should have a more three-dimensional feel and seem to come from all around you rather than directly from the TV.
The range will be available in 65, 58, 50 and 40 inches.
Panasonic's yearly lineup is generally smaller than its rivals' and with four OLED ranges, there isn't much room for LCDs. The GX800 is the only high-end range, other than the 75-inch GX920, and the GX700s are the only mid-range models.
They lose the HCX processor and Dolby Vision, but keep one advanced format, HDR10+. Dolby Atmos is out, too, so sound quality may suffer.
Interestingly, they don't appear to be compatible with Alexa or Google Assistant either. All the TVs above the range are, so you can control the settings, change the channel and even search for content in certain apps using your voice.
The GX700s are available in 65, 58, 50 and 40 inches.
Panasonic's entry-level LCD range supports the basic HDR formats, HDR10 and HLG, while all the other 4K models in its 2019 lineup support HDR10+, which can adjust contrast to suit each scene.
The GX550s appear to be quite basic. There's no voice control and they run an older version of Panasonic's smart system, my Home Screen.
They are available in 55, 49 and 43 inches, there's also a 65-inch model, which has it's own model number, GX560. It has a different design, but otherwise appears to be the same as the GX550s.
Panasonic's 2018 TVs overview
The table below shows the key differences between each of Panasonic's ranges. Or you can jump straight to the Panasonic TV series you want to know more about.
The angled base at the foot of Panasonic's flagship OLED isn't just a design statement, it's a sound bar, too. There are 12 speakers built in and since the TV also has Bluetooth built in you can connect your phone or tablet to play music.
As for the screen, it's an OLED panel, which means there's no backlight. The TV is thin as a result and since each bulb in the display can be turned off individually it should have excellent contrast and motion fluidity.
The TV has both HDR10+ and HLG HDR formats built in and sensors work with the HDR to adjust the brightness of what's on screen based on the ambient light in your room. As it's at the top end of Panasonic's range it also uses the HCX Processor.
Looking at the list of features on the FZ800, it appears to be the FZ950 minus the sound bar.
It's an OLED TV that uses the HCX Processor which, when coupled with HDR10+ and HLG, should be able to display vivid, rich colours.
We'd expect sound quality to take a hit when compared with the FZ950 and its 12-speaker sound bar. We'll know once we test it whether the FZ800 plays second fiddle to the 950 when it comes to image quality, too.
The FX750 range is made up of Panasonic's high-end LCD TVs. They are the only LCDs to use Panasonic's 2018 HCX Processor.
LCD TVs aren't expected to have as good a contrast as OLED TVs, but the local dimming pro technology in the FX750 series should help to minimise colour bleeding and halo effects, which is when lighter colours spill into darker areas.
As with all of Panasonic's 4K TVs, these top-tier LCD models support HDR10+ and HLG HDR formats. These will work in tandem with the wide colour spectrum system to display more natural colours on screen.
With a similar design to the FX750 TVs, there doesn't seem to be much separating these two ranges. The look is the same and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of differences under the hood either.
The FX740 range still supports local dimming, but it's not local dimming pro, which is what Panasonic calls the technology on its FX750 TVs. This could be marketing waffle and make no real difference to the picture quality.
TVs in this range have 1,600hz refresh rate, while the FX750s have 2,000hz. That doesn't mean the image on screen refreshes 1,600 times a second though, it's more likely that the TVs have some visual trickery to make what you're watching look as smooth as possible. It's debatable how much difference these improvements to the refresh rates really make, but hopefully these impressively high numbers result in excellent motion fluidity in our testing.
The FX700 range marks a big shift in design from the high-end LCD TVs and the OLEDs. Rather than a central stand, they have two separate feet. This design can be frustrating if the base won't fit on your media unit, but these are adjustable, so you can move them inwards to suit the size of your furniture.
As for the technology in the TV, it's similar to FX740. The refresh rate is still 1,600hz and it uses the same wide colour spectrum. Even the local dimming backlight technology is the same across both ranges.
While Sony, Samsung and LG are releasing no TVs under 32-inches, Panasonic is one of the few manufacturers making anything smaller. The FS500 range will be available in 24, 32, 40 and 49 inches and support HDR. The refresh rate is 600Hz so motion and contrast should be good when you're watching HDR content.
Panasonic also has the FS400 range, which includes a 32- and a 40-inch model, HDR support and a 600Hz refresh rate.