Pana­sonic FZ950

Pana­sonic leads the way when it comes to truly cin­e­matic telly, though it’s lack­ing a cou­ple of fea­tures

Australian T3 - - TESTED -

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…

Star ap­peal

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.

Plugged in

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)

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