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Panasonic Enters 4K OLED Fray With Stunning New TV

BERLIN – OLED, as it turns out, may be too beautiful to die without a fight. Up until recently, LG was the only major TV manufacturer still releasing OLED television sets in the West, but Panasonic is looking to change that with its TX-65CZ950 (€10,000) set. This 4K TV looks good, but whether it can justify its high price will be an interesting challenge.

I observed the TX-65CZ950 firsthand at IFA 2015. The device is a 65-inch curved OLED 4K TV and supports high dynamic range (HDR) content. Although the device is not yet confirmed for a U.S. release, it will likely cost around €10,000 ($11,143) in Europe and come out before the end of the year.

Early praise for the TX-65CZ950 has been spirited, to say the least, with at least one publication asking whether it is the "Best TV Ever?" From my own observations, I wouldn't go quite that far, although it's undeniably an attractive set. The curved design will admittedly split people down the middle (at this size, it's unlikely to make the picture better, and the curve arguably makes it worse for groups), but beyond that, both the resolution and color accuracy were top-notch. I watched a test video with a dancer spinning in a red dress against a blue backdrop; The colors were both distinct and rich, and the movement fluid.

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One aspect I did not enjoy as much, however, was the glare. Being in a brightly lit convention center is admittedly not the best environment for a TV, but the screen emitted much more glare than I'm used to, especially for an OLED. The curve seemed to exacerbate the issue, as one side would collect much more light than the other, regardless of where I stood.

Still, the TX-65CZ950 does have some impressive credentials on its side. Mike Sowa, an award-winning Hollywood colorist, worked with Panasonic to ensure the machine's accuracy. The TX-65CZ950 is also the first 4K OLED TV to be certified by THX, an organization that ensures high-quality audio and visuals for feature films.

Panasonic also claims that the blacks on the TX-65CZ950 are even better than standard OLED blacks, but this will be hard to evaluate until we can see two screens side-by-side.

Based on what I've seen, the TX-65CZ950 looks like a worthy, albeit expensive, new competitor in the 4K OLED market. Regardless of whether you like LG's screens, competition is good for consumers. Widespread adoption of OLED is still not an impossibility, although it will take a good old-fashioned product arms race to make it affordable and accessible for most viewers.