Panasonic leads the way when it comes to truly cinematic telly, though it’s lacking a couple of features
From $2,420 panasonic.com
Panasonic rightly makes a big deal of its Hollywood connections. Not only does it have an R&D lab that’s a stone’s throw from the Walk of Fame, but all the OLED screens you buy at home have been finely tuned by Tinsel Town creatives, resulting in huge appeal for movie lovers. In fact, it’s probably the best OLED TV ever made. But not all of it…
Well, Hollywood is nothing if not nice to look at, and build quality on the FZ950 is exceptional, with a slimline bezel and the best finishing this side of Harry Kane. It also comes with a dedicated soundbar, tuned by Technics audio engineers, which is similarly sleek. The TV is available in 55-inch (tested here) and 65-inch models. Size aside, the screens are essentially identical.
Before we go into detail about high-end video, there’s extra good news: the set does a great job with upscaling HD channels. There’s no sense that you’re slumming it with sub-2160p fare, as long as the quality of the original is good. Of course, 4K HDR is better, and if you’re watching a disc or stream at this quality there’s a depth to the FZ950’s colour that’s nothing short of mesmerising.
However, with SDR content the cinematic viewing modes dramatically reduce panel luminance (down to as little as 30 per cent), and shouldn’t be used in anything other than fully dark room conditions. That’s an important point to consider about this TV. As soon as you pop on a film, it looks the business… provided you choose the right image preset.
The Normal mode is the best option for watching in rooms with average
ambient light. Using Dynamic can oversaturate colour, but some content (animation, for example) can look divine. When displaying 4K HDR content, all the set’s image presets lock to full panel luminance and contrast. The True Cinema mode beautifully replicates the image characteristics of a Hollywood mastering monitor, but requires near-dark viewing conditions to really impress.
Lack of Vision
HDR support covers HDR10, HLG and HDR10+, the new open standard developed to challenge Dolby Vision for the most advanced HDR image. Dolby Vision itself isn’t supported, which isn’t a deal breaker, but with HDR10+ not really having any support yet, it does mean you miss out on the best possible viewing option.
Fortunately, you probably won’t mind, because with amazingly rich, dark images from its OLED screen, and impressive brightness when needed, it looks stunning. Motion handling is also decent, so with 4K HDR sports becoming more widely available, this will do nicely. The FZ950 also makes for a superb gaming display, provided you use the Gaming mode to cut lag.
Sound quality is excellent for a flatpanel TV. The speaker bar uses four woofers, a quartet of mid-range drivers, two tweeters and a quad passive radiator for deeper bass. Its stereo presentation is first class. There’s no Dolby Atmos, but outside of that it really cuts the need to buy a dedicated soundbar.
Speaking of Dolby Atmos, support for it is lacking entirely from this TV. There’s no decoder, so you can’t route Dolby Atmos from either a connected set top box or the internal Netflix client out to an Atmos sound system. This maybe the single biggest issue we have here: Atmos is incredible, and although there are ways around not having it, this is not ideal.
You get four HDMI inputs, but while all are 4K HDCP enabled, only two are full bandwidth. That means you can’t run the highest-end 2160p 10-bit source into HDMIs 3 or 4. The built-in operating system works well, and you’ve got streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ITVHub, All4 and loads more.
In many ways, the FZ950 is the best performing OLED screen we’ve seen this year. Its colour performance is extraordinary, while detail and HDR really shine. It also boasts a superior sound solution out of the box, and has a great smart platform. However, the lack of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support means it’s not a slam dunk against rival OLED panels, such as LG’s OLED C8 and the jaw-dropping Sony AF8.
But if you want a 4K TV to suck the finest possible detail out of movies from Casablanca to Ragnarok, the Panasonic FZ950 is like having your own personal screening room.
Sizes 55- or 65-inch Panel OLED 3840x2160 Speaker output 80W Connections 4x HDMI 4K, 3x USB, Ethernet, SD card, CI slot, WiFi, optical audio, headphone jack Dimensions 1228x785x330mm (55-inch) Weight 29kg (55-inch)