CES 2018: Panasonic announces FZ950 & FZ800 OLED 4K TV line-up with HDR10+
Panasonic have announced four new OLED models across two ranges at a special event held in Los Angeles.The manufacturer's presence at CES has been significantly reduced in recent years, especially when it comes to TVs which they no longer actually sell in the US. However they did hold a special press event in LA where we got our first chance to take a look at their new OLED line-up.
Panasonic's continued commitment to OLED doesn't come as a surprise from a company that has always strived to deliver the best possible image quality. The 77-inch TX-77EZ1002 continues from last year and is joined in 2018 by two new ranges, the FZ950 and FZ800 (FZ952 and FZ802 in the UK). The FZ952 comes in two versions, the 55-inch TX-55FZ952 and the 65-inch TX-65FZ952, whilst the FZ802 also has two models, the 55-inch TX-55FZ802 and the 65-inch TX-65FZ802.
The new FZ950 and FZ800 ranges feature the latest OLED panels, combined with the newest generation of Panasonic’s Hollywood-tuned HCX video processor. The four new models will also be the first OLED screens available in 2018 which support HDR10+ dynamic metadata technology. In addition the FZ950 range is complemented by the addition of a ‘Tuned by Technics’ Dynamic Blade Speaker, similar to the one included with last year's TX-65EZ1002.
Panasonic’s OLED range uses panels provided by LG Display but then adds their own image processing techniques built up over decades of TV development. To ensure that the technical accuracy of the screens matches the industry standards and the content creators' intentions, Panasonic are continuing to work with Hollywood specialists Deluxe and its post-production studios Company 3, EFILM and Encore. And before shipping, Panasonic will seek Ultra HD Premium and THX certification for all its new OLED screens.
The FZ950 and FZ800 boast the latest and most powerful generation of Panasonic's proprietary HCX 4K video processor, which is designed to deliver accurate and impactful high dynamic range (HDR) images. The new processor’s increased levels of control are combined with OLED's incredible black levels and a wide colour gamut of almost 100 per cent of the DCI colour space. As a result colour reproduction, especially in areas that are particularly difficult to reproduce, such as dark shadows and bright highlights, is even more accurate.
The biggest change to the HCX processor is the introduction of a completely new ‘Dynamic LUT’ system. LUT (Look Up Table) technology is used extensively in professional post-production and broadcast facilities in Hollywood and beyond to ensure colour accuracy. Until now, LUTs were fixed according to the colour space used by the source; with this innovation, the HCX automatically monitors the average brightness level of a scene and uses AI to dynamically load an LUT appropriate to that scene. Panasonic claim this will bring significant improvements to mid-brightness scenes, making them look much more natural. To improve colour accuracy in shadows, Panasonic has also included additional layers of LUT data at much darker levels than previously. This means that along with improving the roll out from pure black, the colours in the shadows will also be more accurate.
In response to requests from Hollywood’s professional users, Panasonic has extended the range and reduced the interval between calibration steps at the darkest end of the RGB and gamma scales. This can be adjusted by the user via the TV's Colour Management System (CMS). The FZ950 and FZ800 support Imaging Science Foundation (isf) calibration settings and new calibration points at 5 per cent and – in an industry first – just 2.5 per cent luminance, providing the greatest control to users where it is most needed, just above complete blackness in low-lit scenes. These new industry-first calibration points will also be supported by Portrait Display’s CalMAN software with AutoCal functionality.
Unlike last year, all of the new 2018 models will include an Absolute Black Filter, which helps ensure the purest, most accurate black levels by absorbing ambient light in order to eliminate reflections – which is especially beneficial in brightly lit rooms.
Panasonic's new OLED TVs will be the first to support HDR10+ dynamic metadata technology which will offer benefits to viewers by optimising the tone mapping on a scene-by-scene basis. HDR10+ is an open, royalty-free, dynamic metadata platform for High Dynamic Range (HDR), created by 20th Century Fox, Panasonic and Samsung. Once the HDR10+ license program is open, the three founding companies will incorporate HDR10+ technologies in all future Ultra HD movie releases, selected TVs and Ultra HD Blu-ray players, and other products.
Panasonic’s OLED TVs will, of course, also support HDR10 – the standard HDR format, which is featured on the UHD Blu-ray format and across 4K HDR content from streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. In the case of Amazon, the new OLEDs will also support HDR10+ and there is support for Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), the HDR format compatible with TV broadcasts, which are expected to expand in the near future.
Finally, Panasonic has added a new Dynamic Scene Optimizer function, which uses AI to mimic dynamic metadata when playing an HDR10 source on its new 4K TVs. Furthermore, a new Auto HDR Brightness Enhancer function allows viewers to preserve the creative intent perceptively by adjusting manually or automatically how HDR content looks in a brighter room.
In the case of the FZ950, Panasonic has also developed an ultra-slim new sound system, sporting a ‘Tuned by Technics’ logo. The Dynamic Blade Speaker uses audiophile grade Hi-Fi components and uses no less than eight multiple speaker units (four larger woofers, four squawkers and two tweeters, plus a quad passive radiator to boost bass) and 40 per cent increased volume compared to last year. The Dynamic Blade Speaker was developed in conjunction with engineers from Technics – Panasonic’s acclaimed audio brand – who were involved at every stage of the process, from mechanical and electrical circuit design through to sound tuning.
For gaming enthusiasts, Panasonic's FZ950 and FZ800 screens will offer their quickest-ever response times, with a dedicated Game mode for faster image processing designed to deliver crisp, finely detailed images, even with fast-moving 4K and HDR games that require quick reaction times.
Finally, Panasonic’s new OLED screens are designed to the highest standards using only premium materials that follow Panasonic’s ‘Art & Interior’ ethos. The FZ950 and FZ800 have been fashioned using dark metallic finishes, with no visible seams and appear to float above their stands, which also elegantly hide their new sound systems.
Pricing and availability of the FZ950/952 and FZ800/802 will be announced at the Panasonic European Convention in February.
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