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How to buy the best TV

How to buy the best Panasonic TV

By Martin Pratt

Article 5 of 7

With the promise of improved contrast and the biggest colour range ever on an LCD TV, it could be a good year for Panasonic. We explain what's new with its 2018 OLED and LCD sets and how each series differs.

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Panasonic is sticking with OLED for its 2018 range-topping sets and it's doubling the output with the new FZ800 and FZ950. With four new 4K ranges sitting alongside them, there are plenty of TVs to talk about.

As well as new designs, there are also improvements to the technology inside the TVs, including the addition of HDR10+, HLG, brighter screens and the 'Hollywood-approved' HCX Processor.

We won't know how much difference that HCX Processor makes until we test the TVs, but we can look at how each series differs and see what extra features you get on the TVs higher up the range.

Panasonic TV technology explained

New HDR formats and processors are just some of the features you'll find in Panasonic's 2018 TVs. 

HCX Processor

In creating its latest processor, which you'll find in its OLED TVs and LCD FX750 range, 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.

Only the OLED TVs and the FX750 LCD range get the HCX chip.

Wide colour spectrum

The more colours a TV can display, the more accurate those colours should be, which is why TVs 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.

Local dimming

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 is only found on the FX750, which should offer the best contrast. 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 would 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, and 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 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.

Panasonic FZ950 

 

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.

The FZ950 will be available as 55- and 65-inch screens.

Panasonic FZ800 

 

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.

Like the FZ950, the FZ800 will be available in 55- and 65-inch screens.

Panasonic FX750 

 

The FX750 range is made up of Panasonic's high-end LCD TVs. They are the only LCDs to use Panasonic's new 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.

The FX750 TV will be available in 49, 55, 65 and 75 inches.

Panasonic FX740 

 

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.

TVs in FX740 line up will be available in 49, 55 or 65 inches.

Panasonic FX700 

 

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.

It seems as though design is the only thing that separates the FX740 range from the FX700. We'll know once we test these TVs if there are any differences between the sound and picture quality.

The FX700 range will be available in 49, 55 and 65 inches.

Panasonic FX600 

 

A lower refresh rate of 1,300Hz and no local dimming are the key differences between FX600 range of TVs and those above it.

It shares the adjustable base design of the FX700, but only on the 49-, 55- and 65-inch versions. The feet are locked in place on the 43-inch model. 

The fact that the FX600 range is the only 4K series to include a TV smaller than 49 inches is telling of the market trend towards larger TVs. This shift in the market is mirrored by Sony, which has two 43-inch 4K TVs on offer in 2018 and Samsung, which only has one.

Panasonic's full HD TVs 

 

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. 

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