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Panasonic GZ2000 OLED TV Hands-On: Come for the Picture, Stay for the Sound

LAS VEGAS - Panasonic means business with its latest OLED TV, shown off at CES 2019, the sumptuous Panasonic GZ2000. It’s a television with a number of headline-grabbing world’s firsts.

But where much of the focus will be on the TV’s (currently) unique ability to support Dolby Digital and HDR10+ content, it was its speaker setup that had me picking my jaw up from the floor.  

Panasonic has managed to attach some up-firing speakers to the back of television, in a surprisingly svelte manner. This brings the speaker tally on the TV to the magic number 7, which is what you need for Dolby Atmos, and boy does it sound good.

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I had a number of demos of the Panasonic GZ2000, showing off the picture and audio quality and I was utterly impressed throughout. Panasonic has thought long and hard about ways to improve its OLED TV.

Display: Fantastic visuals

Panasonic is under no illusion that its panel is the same that’s used by myriad other manufacturers (made by LG Display) but it’s tinkered enough with its own processors, adding an updated HCX Pro Intelligent processor, and algorithms to get the best quality it can. This was most apparent when I had a demo of its Intelligent Clear Motion technology.

In the footage I saw, it significantly reduced the blurring around a fast-moving object, in this case a man on a bike, so that the halo effect you sometimes get around said object had all-but gone.

Panasonic admitted the footage was an extreme case (and the bad halo-ing I did see was coming from its 2018 OLED range) but it showed off how far this technology has come in just a year. 

There are some big improvements in brightness, too, with Panasonic quoting a 30 percent increase. Couple this with OLED’s natural tendency to be bright and the GZ2000 is a joy to watch stuff on, particularly a fast-moving scene from Wonder Woman which showed off the TV’s wide color gamut.

For reference, there were two variants of the GZ2000 set up: one showcasing footage in HDR10+ and the other Dolby Vision. There wasn’t much between the two formats, not that I could see, but it wasn’t a fair comparison as the footage on each was different.

Having both HDR formats on board is more about Panasonic making sure that it has the, somewhat confusing and rather fragmented, HDR market sewn up.  Regardless of what the studios have chosen when it comes to HDR, this OLED means that you don’t need to pick a side to watch decent HDR content.

The TV, thankfully, also supports the older HDR10 format, too. The screen quality on the GZ2000 is so good, Panasonic has wooed some of Hollywood’s finest to put their name behind the technology. Both director Joseph Kosinski (who is helming the upcoming Top Gun sequel) and colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld (Man of Steel, Wonder Woman) are using these TVs as their reference sets.

Sound: Simply epic

You can’t hit cinematic heights without decent audio, though, and the Panasonic GZ2000 has this and more. Perhaps to appease this particular limey, Panasonic showed me a Leicester City Premier League match to showcase the difference between its new up-firing speakers, compared to a soundbar.

The sound coming from the GZ2000’s speaker setup was massive, with the crowd reaction overhead and the ball whizzing past our ears. Compared to the soundbar, it was a much bigger and detailed soundscape. 

It’s important to note that this demo was not showcasing Dolby Atmos but Panasonic’s own 'sound field' generation that resamples audio to make use of the up-firing speakers.

It was really impressive and great to see these speakers working when Dolby Atmos-supported audio isn’t being piped through, given the scarcity of this in the home at the moment. But when an Atmos demo was shown, the sound was epic.

Outlook

First impressions, the Panasonic GZ2000 OLED TV range is worthy of its flagship status. Panasonic has decided against launching an 8K set, although it has signed up to be part of the 8K Alliance, and instead is focusing on the here and now of 4K.

Or, should that be the hear and now? As this TV is an absolute audio and visual treat. The Panasonic GZ2000 OLED TV range is set to launch in the Summer, in 55 and 65-inch sizes, with pricing to be announced.