Having whet our appetite back at the CES in January with early details of its new LZ2000 flagship OLED TVs, Panasonic has now taken the wraps off the rest of its extensive OLED range – as well as a few of its key LCD models.
Starting with the newly unveiled OLEDs, the LZ2000s will be joined by LZ1500s, LZ1000s, LZ980s and LZ800s. As with last year’s range, the step-down LZ1500s will join the LZ2000s (except for the 48 and 42-inch models) in getting one of Panasonic’s premium Master OLED Pro panels, with the brand’s always impressive high brightness technology.
In fact, Panasonic claims that the LZ1500 will, along with all of its new OLED TVs, deliver even more brightness than their equivalent 2021 models.
The 65 and 55-inch LZ1500s will also stand out from their cheaper new Panasonic OLED siblings thanks to a Dynamic Cinema Surround Pro audio system, which supports the LZ1500’s Dolby Atmos decoding with a built-in woofer for enhanced bass.
The LZ1500 range will be available in 65, 55, 48 and 42-inch sizes. Sadly there’s no mention of a 77-inch version, though, meaning anyone wanting to get Panasonic’s unique OLED talents on a really home cinema sized scale will have to step up to the 77-inch LZ2000.
Stepping down to the LZ1000s (available in 65 and 55-inch versions), you lose the really high-brightness panels, but still get a Master OLED set up which, according to Panasonic, can provide ‘deeper, silkier blacks for a more cinematic feel’ than the regular OLED panels provided on the LZ980 and LZ800 ranges.
The LZ980s (available in 65, 55, 48 and 42-inch sizes) share a Cinema Surround Pro feature with the LZ1000s, which essentially seems to unlock Dolby Atmos playback, while the LZ800s (which are UK-exclusive models available in 65, 55, 48 and 42-inch sizes) lose the Dolby Atmos support.
There are a number of general OLED features worth mentioning, too, that apply right across the new Panasonic OLED range. Starting with the fact that all of Panasonic’s 2022 OLED panels combine – in Panasonic’s words – “Panasonic’s technical accuracy, made possible by Japanese engineering and knowhow, with the colour-tuning skills of [renowned Hollywood colourist] Stefan Sonnenfeld”.
All of the new OLEDs carry sensors able to detect the ambient colour temperature around them and adjust the picture accordingly, building on the Auto AI mode feature Panasonic introduced on its 2021 OLED TVs. While these sensors are present across the new Panasonic OLED range, the premium models equipped with Panasonic’s flagship HCX Pro AI Processor will adjust colour tones with extra accuracy and realism based on ambient light conditions.
As noted when we talked about the LZ2000 a few months back, all of the 2022 Panasonic OLEDs will now feature a Netflix Adaptive Calibrated Mode designed to recreate the mastering conditions Netflix uses for its home-grown content. They’ll also benefit from the latest (7th) generation of Panasonic’s My Home Screen smart interface, the biggest change of which appears to be much-enhanced accessibility thanks to quick menu access to voice guidance; enhanced voice control; audio descriptions; audio dialogue enhancement; and hard of hearing subtitles.
Panasonic’s latest OLEDs recognise, too, the ever-increasing importance of gaming to the TV story. All of them will get Panasonic’s Game Mode Extreme set up, for starters, which delivers the key HDMI 2.1-related features of high frame rates and variable refresh rates up to 120Hz in full 4K resolution. The VRR support stretches to AMD FreeSync Premium too, and Panasonic is promising that a new 60Hz Refresh Mode will dramatically reduce latency and input lag for 60Hz gaming.
Panasonic’s 2022 OLEDs will even follow in the footsteps of Samsung and LG in offering a new Game Control Board, which presents key gaming settings and information in a specially designed interface overlaid over the picture so that gamers don’t need to quit their game to access it.
Game Control Board inclusions will be information on the game signal (including frame rate, HDR metadata and chroma subsampling data); access to a Dark Visibility Enhancer that lets you finely adjust the brightness and shadow detail of only the darkest parts of the picture; a choice over whether the TV or the console does HDR dynamic tone mapping; and different ‘Viewing Modes’ for different game types.
The two premium LCD ranges Panasonic is willing to talk about so far (apparently there are still a few things to iron out with its more entry level LCD models) are the LX940 and LX800s. The first thing to say about these is that the LX940 flagship LCD series won’t be sold in the UK; they’re for mainland Europe only. Their main stepping up points over the LX800s (which WILL be available in the UK) are their use of what Panasonic calls an HDR Cinema Display Pro panel, with more brightness and colour range, and a superior HCX Pro AI processor.
Most of the LX800 range (the 75, 65 and 55-inch versions) still get a brighter-than-typical ‘HDR Cinema Display’ panel, though the 50-inch and 43-inch models only get a less HDR-friendly ‘Bright Panel Plus’ screen.
The LX800s only get the HCX Processor, without the Pro AI trimmings, and crucially fail to join the LX940s in supporting 4K/120Hz and VRR gaming features. The LX800s also feature a less powerful audio system than the LX940s – though neither of these LCD series, it seems, is equipped with Dolby Atmos sound.
One thing that’s not clear at the time of writing is which of Panasonic’s LCD TVs announced to date will have IPS panels, and which will have VA panels. If Panasonic is willing to share this information, I’ll update this article accordingly.