Panasonic Jumps The Gun, Reveals 2 New OLED 4K HDR TVs Before CES 2018
Stephan Jukic – January 7, 2018
CES 2018 isn’t kicking off fully until this coming Sunday and apparently, Panasonic just couldn’t wait that long to start showing off its newest and (presumably) best ever 4K HDR OLED television models. These are the FZ8000 and FZ950 series and as we now know, they’ll be coming out in 55 inch and 65 inch size ranges as the flagship TVs of the 2018 Panasonic television lineup.
In 2017 Panasonic offered up a pretty flaccid selection of products for last year’s CES so it’s understandable that the company would be excited to beat the news headline rush of CES itself in announcing its brightest, shiniest new consumer electronics products for this year so far. After a CES 2017 event in which only one OLED TV was released along with a couple new 4K Blu-ray players and little worth mentioning beyond these two, the dual OLED 4K HDR television announcement we got last night is a nice sign of newfound productivity from the company.
These new OLED TVs are going to be accompanied by at least three 4K Blu-ray player models for 2018 as well so Panasonic’s robust beginning to this year isn’t limited to just televisions.
Moving back to the OLED TVs themselves, both will get their own 55 and 65 inch releases and both will feature all new OLED display panels which are expected to surpass the performance of what was released by Panasonic in 2017. They might even outperform some rival OLED TV displays for this and last year, but we’ll have to see how that plays out when all is reviewed and measured.
The pricier of the two, the FZ950 will come out with the model numbers TX-55FZ950 and TX-65FZ950 and the FZ8000 will be released in two models as well, the TX-55FZ800 and TX-65FZ800. Both of these TVs will come with full high dynamic range support and include Panasonic’s proprietary HCX picture processing engine for high quality upscaling, motion handling and rendering of other crucial HDR 4K TV picture quality specs. Panasonic also plans to continue production and sales of last year’s EZ1000 77 inch giant of an OLED 4K TV for the sake of fully rounding out its OLED size range for this year.
We assume that the new models will at least slightly outperform the 2017 OLED though. With LG’s 4K HDR OLED TVs (which sell much more on the U.S market) this has been the case right from their first ever release in 2014 –each year’s successive lineup has been at least a bit better at all major picture quality specs than the models of the previous year.
Also Read: Our Comprehensive review of LG’s OLED C7 4K HDR TV, one of the best OLED Deals of late 2017
Giving favor to the likelihood of improved performance in the 2018 FZ models are some additional details about their new features: The improved HCX picture processing engine is going to also include what Panasonic is calling a Dynamic LUT (look-up Table) which will essentially take a given display image and break it down into a series of numbers representing contrast, brightness, saturation and so forth so that each of these settings can be corrected and improved dynamically as content plays back on the TV screen. This processing will be done on a millisecond-to-millisecond basis by the HCX processor for a constantly optimal level of picture quality, HDR rendering and overall content display regardless of source. Most importantly, the Dynamic LUT is supposed to improve how well the FZ950 and FZ8000 TVs handle HDR10/HDR10+ high dynamic range content during playback.
Yes, that’s right, another feature of the two new TV models is that they will support the newly developed HDR10+ high dynamic range standard right from their release date. Unfortunately, this also apparently means that they will NOT come with Dolby Vision support even though certain other Panasonic 4K content products do support Dolby HDR. Nonetheless, HDR10+ is expected to be a significant improvement over HDR10 and in most respects, it’s supposed to perform almost as well as or just the same as Dolby Vision already does. Panasonic is at least showing that it’s seriously committed to its joint venture with Samsung, Fox and Warner Bros in promoting the open source HDR10+ format’s further expansion.
In most display metrics and general picture handling specs, the FZ950 and FZ850 are expected to be mostly identical and we believe this. LG’s OLED TVs for 2017 almost all performed equally across the board regardless of price as far as their color rendering, peak brightness and infinite contrast were concerned, so it’s likely to be the same with OLED from Panasonic’s TVs as well.
Where they will differ mostly however is in the quality of each model’s audio. The FZ8000 model will come with built-in speakers while the pricier FZ950 will include a Dynamic Blade soundbar speaker system that promises some serious performance with its 80 watts of sound power, 20-watt tweeter and 40-watt woofer.
Just how good HDR10+ looks on a brand new OLED 4K high dynamic range TV like either of these models is something we’ll have to wait to see. Pricing and precise release date information on the two Panasonic TVs is also obviously enough not available quite yet, though the company has said that they’ll start shipping in the spring.