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Panasonic FZ802/FZ800 review: OLED at its best

Vincent Teoh
10 Jul 2018
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2,299
inc VAT

Panasonic's FZ802 isn't just one of the most affordable OLED TVs, it's also one of the very best – and image quality is out of this world

Pros 
Class-leading colour accuracy, both before and after calibration
True blacks and wide viewing angles
Low input lag
Cons 
Shadow detail slightly indistinct
No Dolby Vision support
Intermittent stutter with 24p 4K HDR Blu-rays (very subtle and rare)
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We’ve been waiting patiently for Panasonic to release its two new OLED TV series for 2018, and they’re finally here. The FZ802 we have here is the more affordable of the two, sitting one rung below the flagship FZ952. Both ranges use the same OLED panel and picture processing, so image quality should in theory be identical, with differentiating features being the Technics-tuned soundbar and swankier remote control supplied with the FZ952. The Panasonic FZ802 is available in two screen sizes, namely the 55-inch TX-55FZ802B (which we're reviewing today) and the 65-inch TX-65FZ802B.

Panasonic FZ802/FZ800: What you need to know

The TV is marketed as the FZ800 in the rest of the world, with the UK getting the FZ802B version due to the inclusion of Freeview Play. The Panasonic FZ802 features a UHD (ultra high-definition) resolution of 3840x2160 pixels, the latest WRGB OLED panel from LG Display with Absolute Black Filter, Panasonic's latest HCX video processor, HDR support for the open-standard HDR10, HLG and also HDR10+ dynamic metadata formats, as well as Ultra HD Premium and THX certifications. Panasonic continues to offer its My Home Screen Smart TV portal, currently version 3.0 which is impressively responsive and easy to use.

Panasonic FZ802/FZ800: Price and competition

The Panasonic TX-55FZ802B retails for £2299, making it the least expensive 55in 2018 OLED television on the market at this time of writing (July 2018), although its main competitors (LG OLED55B8, £2499; LG OLED55C8, £2699; and Sony KD-55AF8, £2499) do have one trump card: they’re compatible with the Dolby Vision dynamic metadata format which boasts more widely available content than the open-standard HDR10+ version that the FZ802 supports.

Panasonic FZ802/FZ800: Design and connectivity

In contrast to some of the more flamboyant competition, Panasonic has opted for an unfussy yet elegant design. The FZ802 sits on a central stand with a black metal rectangular base which is reassuringly heavy. The rectangular base doesn't take up much space at all, so you won't need to go out and buy a wider AV rack separately on which to place the television. Framed by a plain black bezel, the OLED panel itself is very thin, though the bottom two-thirds of the chassis has to bulge out at the back to house the TV's components and power supply.

The connections are found on the left rear of the display. Like last year's Panasonic OLEDs, there are four HDMI sockets, but only HDMI inputs 1 and 2 are the full bandwidth HDMI 2.0b ports that support Ultra HD content at higher bit depth, frame rate or chroma resolution. Panasonic also provides plastic covers to hide the screws and connections for achieving a cleaner look.

Being the more affordable, entry-level OLED range, the Panasonic FZ802B ships with a cheaper remote control that's not backlit, and whose rubber buttons don't provide satisfying tactile feedback.

Sound quality is typical of a flat-screen TV and nothing to write home about. If you want good sound quality out of the box, then the pricier FZ952B promises both superior audio and comes with a premium backlit remote with brushed metallic finish.

Panasonic FZ802/FZ800: Picture quality & gaming responsiveness

Among all the TVs we've reviewed in 2018, the Panasonic FZ800 delivers the most natural-looking colours – with the most realistic skin tones – both out of the box and after calibration. Black level is typically superb as you can expect from OLED, but with the factory settings there's minor black crush going on, causing shadow detail to look a touch murky. Upscaling from sub-UHD resolution is very good, and the bonus is that overscan can be disabled for SD content too.

Panasonic offers both motion-compensated frame interpolation and black frame insertion to reduce motion blur on the TX-55FZ802B, though the latter can be fatiguing due to flicker with the 50Hz content we get in the UK. Last year's Panasonic TVs with HCX2 processor including the EZ952 and EZ1002 OLEDs suffered from motion stutter with 25 frames per second content... fortunately this issue is all but fixed on the FZ802. Some smokey/ misty dark scenes and face movements in 24p 4K Blu-rays can still exhibit stutter, but it's very rare and subtle.

Sporting a 2018 OLED panel, screen uniformity on our Panasonic 55FZ802 review sample is as good as we've seen from a consumer OLED TV. There's still some vertical streaks characteristic of OLED on full-field slides just above black, but they are not apparent in real-life viewing. Bright uniformity is excellent too, with no sign of dirty screen effect or colour tinting. Another bonus is that the anti-reflective filter on the Panasonic 55FZ802 is much improved: where last year's EZ952 exhibited a noticeable magenta tint when hit by sunlight, the FZ802 no longer suffers from the same issue.

For HDR, peak brightness measured 725cd/m2 on a 10% window on our 55-inch FZ802 review unit after calibration. DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage was 99%, in line with what WRGB OLED panels are capable of producing over the past couple of years.

Panasonic has relaxed its ABL or Automatic Brightness Limiter algorithm compared with last year's EZ952, but it's still slightly more aggressive than LG's 2018 OLEDs. In general, high brightness scenes will still look brighter on the LG especially with the help of dynamic tone mapping, although the gap has reduced significantly this year.

There's a new [HDR Auto Brightness] function in the user menu, which we found was tied to the TV's inbuilt ambient light sensor. When watched in a bright room, engaging [HDR Auto Brightness] would brighten the entire picture to make HDR more watchable. But if the room is pitch black or dimly lit, enabling [HDR Auto Brightness] only has a very subtle effect, boosting the brightness of very bright objects without affecting the rest of the image.

Panasonic has lowered the input lag on the FZ802 to 22ms in both 1080p SDR and 4K HDR modes, which makes it one of the snappiest TVs on the market for playing games, delivering an immersive experience when combined with OLED's true blacks, vibrant colours and near-instantaneous pixel response time. When displaying HDR games, the Panasonic TX-55FZ802 ignores 10,000-nit metadata so very bright highlight detail may be clipped, but at least the picture won't look too dim. 

Panasonic FZ802/FZ800: Verdict

Easily the undisputed leader in colour accuracy, the Panasonic TX-55FZ802B brings improvements over its predecessor (the EZ952) with better screen uniformity, tint-free anti-reflective filter, more impactful HDR and even lower input lag. Its picture quality is breathtakingly beautiful, even without without calibration – if you can live without Dolby Vision, it’s one of the finest OLED TVs money can buy.

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