How to buy the best Panasonic TV
Panasonic has the smallest range of the main four manufacturers (LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony) but every year it delivers exciting new technology in its OLED and LCD sets.
In this guide we'll highlight the differences between Panasonic's ranges and explain the technology that makes them tick.
Panasonic TV technology explained
New HDR formats and processors are just some of the features you'll find in Panasonic's TVs.
HCX Pro AI and Intelligent Processor
Panasonic's latest processor, the HCX Pro AI, will power its flagship OLED from its 2021 range, the JZ2000.
The Intelligent processor is also found in the HZ2000 from 2020. Panasonic drew 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 Pro sets soon.
Dolby Vision IQ
HDR (see below) is designed to improve the contrast of whatever you're watching, but we sometimes think it makes things worse. Our most common complaint is how the deeper blacks and brighter whites can obscure detail. Since HDR normally goes hand-in-hand with 4K, it's a crime to cover up the extra detail the higher resolution affords.
Dolby Vision IQ offers a solution by using the light sensors in the TV to adjust contrast based on your room's ambient light. We'll know how well this works when we test Panasonic's high-end 2021 TVs, but it's a good solution in theory.
It's strange to think that when you watch a film on your TV that it may not look the way the people who made it intended. That's why the likes of Martin Scorsese, Ava DuVernay and Rian Johnson put their weight behind Filmmaker Mode, which disables TV-added effects that can compromise that original vision.
It should make for a more cinematic experience as motion-smoothing effects are blocked. In our tests we tinker with picture settings to get the best picture from each TV and motion-smoothing is something we often turn off ourselves. For anyone who doesn't want to delve into the deep recesses of TV picture settings, the Filmmaker Mode should be a welcome addition to Panasonic's high-end TVs.
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 new channels.
All LCD TVs have a backlight consisting of multiple LEDs that illuminate to create the picture on screen. Local dimming refers to the areas of the backlight turning on and off. The more specific 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.
The reason you won't find any of this dimming technology on OLED TVs is because they don't need a backlight; instead, OLEDs have individual organic cells behind the screen, which produce their own light source.
Dolby Atmos is technology that – in theory – makes the audio sound like it's coming from above you or passing over your head. It's a feature that TVs from several brands, including LG's, support – but without dedicated speakers sending the sound over you, it will only ever be simulated.
Panasonic's flagship 2021 JZ2000 OLED has dedicated upward firing speakers and some pointed to the side, so it should be capable of some truly expansive sound.
Panasonic's 2020 TV overview
We've tested the majority of Panasonic's 2020 range. Find out how they differ below and use the links to head over to our full reviews.
Panasonic HZ2000B OLED range
Panasonic aims its high-end TVs at people who like to tweak the picture settings. But even before you get your hands on a HZ2000, it will already have been tuned to make it a TV that does justice to a filmmaker's original vision.
It means that if you want the best picture with zero fuss, the HZ2000 should deliver. For those who want to tinker, it offers a range of options, including being able to adjust the look of Dolby Vision HDR content. This is something no other TV can do.
Dolby Vision IQ and Filmmaker Mode are included, too.
Backlit TVs, such as LCD models, are generally brighter than OLEDs, but Panasonic says the HZ2000 OLEDs will be 20% brighter than rival models.
Read our reviews if you want to see if Panasonic's top-tier range is as good as it claims.
Panasonic HZ1500B and HZ1000B OLED range
These two similar ranges have one key difference: the sound. The 1500B range has an integrated sound bar at the base, whereas the 1000B range looks far more traditional with hidden speakers behind the screen.
A criticism often levelled at modern TVs is poor, thin sound. By giving the speakers more room, the 1500B should have richer audio.
Picture quality should be similar between the two ranges. Both use the same HCX Pro Intelligent processor and support the same HDR formats.
Read our reviews of these ranges to see how much difference that integrated sound bar makes to the audio.
Panasonic HZ1500B reviews
Panasonic HZ1000B reviews
Panasonic HX800B 4K LCD range
These mid-range LCD sets tick a lot of high-end boxes. They support HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, which are both advanced formats capable of adjusting contrast to suit each scene. Dolby Atmos is supported, too, so audio should feel more expansive and full.
They have a full array backlights, which sit behind the screen for more control over what areas of the screen are lit. This should improve contrast and help avoid the sort of colour banding that we see on inferior TVs, where areas of colour can look blocky – like ripples in a pool.
Read our reviews to see if the HX800B's high-end features make them an excellent mid-range choice.
Panasonic HX580B 4K LCD range
The cheapest Panasonic TVs sit in the HX580B LCD range. There are some pleasant surprises we didn't expect to find in a low-end range, including Dolby Vision. This advanced HDR format is favoured by Netflix, so the HX580B should look good when you're streaming 4K HDR content.
Some other things we expected to see are missing though. There's no PVR for recording programmes onto a USB hard drive, and you can't control any aspect of the TV with your voice.
That said, we've seen a fair few basic TVs in 2020, and some have managed to impress us. Are Panasonic's the pick of the bunch?
Panasonic's 2019 TV overview
Many of Panasonic's older models are still available to buy new; read on to find out more about the technology in each range and whether it might be worth opting for an older set.
Panasonic GZ2000 OLED
The 4K 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 should also improve brightness, which is one area where OLED displays lag behind LCD ones.
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 previous industry standard, HDR10, couldn'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.
It was 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 it spent a lot more time tuning the panels. It effectively got them from LG quicker, which meant more time for research, development 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 are available in 65 and 55 inches.
Panasonic GZ1500 OLED
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 integrated 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 is 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 are available in 65 and 55 inches. The range is exclusive to John Lewis.
Panasonic GZ1000 OLED
Panasonic 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.
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 are available in 65 and 55 inches.
Panasonic GZ950 OLED
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 and 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 is available in 65 and 55 inches.
The GX800s are some of Panasonic's high-end LCD TVs. Unfortunately they don't have the HCX Pro processor, but they do get the HCX processor, which debuted in 2018 and was initially 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 contrast 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.
Panasonic's yearly line-up is generally smaller than those of 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.
Panasonic's entry-level LCD range supports the basic HDR formats, HDR10 and HLG, while all the other 4K models in its 2019 line-up 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.