Panasonic already has a fine reputation in the realm of 4K and the remarkable (but reasonably priced) HZ1000 OLED looks to cement it
- 4K OLED panel
- Supports all HDR formats
- Dolby Vision IQ for stunning contrast
- Average sound
- No next-gen console gaming features
The name Panasonic has been synonymous with top-notch, cutting-edge TVs since way back in the now-dim old days of plasma and, perhaps – for those with even longer memories – the prehistoric pre-2000s, when gargantuan CRTs metaphorically walked the earth. However, the past is the past, and in the fast-moving world of televisual tech, you’re only as good as your latest model. This is excellent news for Panasonic, because the HZ1000 4K OLED is yet another step up from its UHD predecessors.
First, although we should never get hung up on anything as shallow as aesthetics, the HZ1000 is an exceptionally good-looking TV. Its panel’s borders are so slim that it looks practically bezel-free, and its svelte profile will leave you wondering exactly where Panasonic has hidden all the tech. And packed with 4K smart TV tech it certainly is.
Picture-wise, all the promises of 4K OLED are immediately evident, with strikingly accurate colours, deep blacks and pin-sharp, pixel-perfect detail, while the inclusion of Dolby Vision IQ sees all scenes optimised based on your room’s lighting to further enhance your optical experience.
In terms of sound, the news is not quite so good. There’s a Cinema Surround Pro setting designed to emulate the effect of a full surround-sound setup utilising the two 15W onboard speakers, but ultimately these drivers don’t deliver a sound that’s on a par with the HZ1000’s visual fidelity. If you demand nothing but the best images from your home entertainment, we suspect you’ll demand nothing but the best sound too, so you’ll want to upgrade to a soundbar or surround-sound setup soon after buying the HZ1000.
Now let’s dive into the tech specs.
Panasonic HZ1000: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available:
|4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160)
|HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision
|4x HDMI 2.1
|Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Freeview Play, YouTube, Rakuten TV etc.
|DVB-T, Analogue (NTSC/PAL/SECAM), DVB-T2, DVB-S2
|Compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa devices
Panasonic TX-55HZ1000B: What you need to know
The HZ1000 is available in both 55in and 65in sizes, and both variants rest upon an attractive central pedestal stand that gives you more placement options when it comes to AV furniture. Where many 4K TVs rely on LED edge-lighting or backlighting, the Panasonic’s OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) panel has eight million self-illuminating pixels, giving it a breathtaking contrast ratio and incredible depth of colour.
Packing a comprehensive High Dynamic Range arsenal that includes Dolby Vision and HDR10+, the Panasonic’s HDR playback deepens the viewing experience even further, bringing HDR movies, TVs and games to vivid life. The inclusion of Dolby Vision IQ sees light sensors within the TV combine with metadata from Dolby Vision content to automatically adjust picture contrast to its optimum setting based on the lighting conditions within the room, making it much less likely that you’ll miss fine details amidst the gloom.
Similarly, when switched to the set’s Filmmaker Mode (created with the input of some of Hollywood’s heavyweights), the TV’s settings are automatically adjusted to the aspect ratio, colour and frame rate dictated by the creators of the content you’re watching, while the HZ1000’s Intelligent Sensing works to correct the picture as per the ambient light conditions in the room.
With extremely competent motion handling and a Netflix Calibrated mode that bypasses the TV’s processors to display streamed content closer to the way its maker intended, anything you watch on the HZ1000 is going to be as close to the original creative intent as you can hope to get on a TV in this price range.
Unfortunately, the HZ1000 has an Achilles heel in the form of its audio output. As with most manufacturers, Panasonic has taken the view that most owners will want to add a soundbar or full surround-sound system rather than rely on the built-in sound system; and you will. The Cinema Surround Pro setting does its best to deliver some semblance of surround sound, but when working with just two 15W speakers, the actuality is less than aural awe. However, thanks to Dolby Atmos compatibility, you can counteract this rather flaccid performance by streaming audio out.
There’s also a downside for fans of next-gen gaming because – despite having four HDMI 2.1 inputs – the HZ1000 doesn’t support 4K at 120Hz (aka High Frame Rate) playback or VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). For that reason, PS5 and Xbox Series X enthusiasts may want to look elsewhere for their dream gaming experience.
Taking care of the smart side of things, the HZ1000 runs on the fifth version of Panasonic’s solid MyHomeScreen OS, making for an intuitive and user-friendly experience with a host of streaming apps ready to go, while support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa means you can hook up your digital assistants to take control via voice command, too.
Overall, the Panasonic HZ1000 OLED is a well-specced TV that’s custom-built for movie and television buffs, loaded with the kinds of innovations that make Panasonic an industry leader. Not one, perhaps, for the serious next-gen gamer (though casual gamers will find no fault); but for those seeking 4K cinematic sublimity with not a pixel out of place, look no further than this slim-line stunner.
Panasonic TX-55HZ1000B: Price and competition
The 55-inch TX-HZ1000B is available now at John Lewis, priced at a rather reasonable £1,299. As mentioned above, we’d highly recommend adding a soundbar or Dolby Atmos receiver to get some serious surround sound to do justice to the superior picture, so factor in extra cost for that.
However, if spending hundreds more on a separate sound system isn’t within your budget, just £50 more will get you the Sony BRAVIA AG9 55in from Amazon at £1,349. Also an OLED, the AG9 combines pixel-perfect 4K images, stunning HDR playback and MotionFlow XR processing, and a super-smart Android OS with an equally smart sound setup. Acoustic Surface Audio+ makes the screen the speaker by using two actuators in the back panel to vibrate the screen and allow sounds to emanate accurately from their point of origin within the image – clever stuff that delivers a much wider, more immersive soundscape. Add to that two integrated subwoofers delivering powerful, well-balanced bass, and that’s both picture and sound sorted.
For next-generation gamers seeking 4K thrills, the LG CX OLED 55in weighs in at £1,198 at John Lewis. Something of an all-rounder when it comes to the TV side of things, this 4K option also will appeal highly to next-generation gamers, thanks to the fact it supports three formats of VRR (including G-Sync), alongside ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and 4K at 120Hz. Plus, at 13ms, input lag is furiously fast, making for a perfect Xbox X Series and/or PS5 partner.
If the Panasonic HZ1000 simply doesn’t float your 4K boat, then a solid alternative currently available at exactly the same price of £1,199 (down from £1,500) from Amazon is the Philips Ambilight OLED805. A 55in OLED with multi-HDR support (HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG), Dolby Atmos compatibility and Ambilight, the OLED805 delivers 4K images that are deep and detailed, with natural skin tones and crisp colours. On the audio front, the 805 features upgraded and reshaped 804 drivers and a heartily boosted bass, resulting in more than reasonable sound. Rather than targeting those HDMI 2.1-obsessed next-gen gamers, the Philips, like the Panasonic, is one for the home cinema purists.