Panasonic HZ2000 OLED TV Review

The McLaren Senna of OLEDs

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £3,299.00

What is the Panasonic HZ2000?

The Panasonic HZ2000 is the company’s new flagship 4K OLED TV and incorporates the latest customised Master HDR OLED Professional Edition panel. Other new features include Filmmaker Mode with Intelligent Sensing, Dolby Vision IQ and improvements to the Calman auto-calibration software. The HZ2000 is available in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes.

The Panasonic HZ2000 retains all the features from the GZ2000, with support for 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) with wide colour gamut (DCI-P3/Rec.2020) and high dynamic range (HDR10, HDR10+, Hybrid Log-Gamma and Dolby Vision). It also includes the same HCX Pro Intelligent processor and the built-in upwards firing Dolby Atmos speakers.

Related: What is Dolby Atmos?

The HZ2000 uses the latest version of Panasonic’s customised Master HDR OLED Professional Edition panel which has been engineered to deliver up to an extra 20 percent of peak brightness compared to regular OLED TVs. Average brightness levels have also been increased significantly and contrast handling improved, resulting in increased dynamic range. Heat is dissipated by the design of the heatsink attached to the rear of the panel, which helps with the increase in brightness and helps reduce any risk of image retention.

The HZ2000 also includes Filmmaker Mode, but Panasonic adds its own Intelligent Sensing feature. This uses sensors in the TV to detect the ambient lighting conditions in the room and dynamically adjusts the picture accordingly. This then matches the impression of viewing the content in an ideal darkened environment even if you are sitting in a well-lit living room so viewers will see all the details the content creator intended, even in very dark scenes. Filmmaker Mode with Intelligent Sensing supports content in HDR10+, HDR10, HLG, and SDR.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000


Panasonic has also included the Dolby Vision IQ feature, which extends the benefits of Dolby Vision beyond HDR using dynamic metadata and the light sensor to intelligently optimise the picture quality by informing the TV what type of content is being shown to ensure images are displayed exactly as they should be so colours and details are not lost, regardless of lighting conditions.

Panasonic has added expanded calibration options that allow viewers to control more aspects of their viewing experience, with the transitions out of black adjusted to even higher levels of precision by the inclusion of the first calibration points at 0.5% and 1.3%. Viewers will also, for the first time on Panasonic TVs, be able to calibrate Dolby Vision content using Portrait Display’s Calman software.

In terms of audio features, the HZ2000 uses upward-firing speakers and a forward-firing soundbar that are tuned by Technics and which feature the proprietary JENO Engine to deliver what Panasonic calls 360° Soundscape Pro. Dolby Atmos compatibility adds to the immersive effect allowing the multiple built-in speaker units to produce a spatial soundstage with appropriate Atmos content.

The HZ2000 uses the latest iteration of Panasonic’s smart TV OS, My Home Screen 5.0, with new features such as presenting thumbnails of featured content to make choosing a TV show or movie a more intuitive affair. The HZ2000 also has Freeview Play with all the terrestrial TV catch-up apps available, along with VOD services from Netflix, Prime Video and more.

The HZ2000 is one of the most expensive OLED TVs released in 2020 so can it justify the cost versus the performance on offer? Let’s find out.


Design, Connections and Control

The Panasonic HZ2000 looks very similar to the previous GZ2000, with the same almost bezel-less screen, ultra-thin chassis and metal construction.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000


It also has the forward-firing soundbar and upward-firing drivers that allow the HZ2000 to deliver Dolby Atmos immersive audio. The soundbar is tuned by Technics to offer the highest possible audio quality.

The HZ2000 also sits on a fixed rectangular stand that is heavy and sturdy, feeling more in keeping with a TV of this stature, than the less solid feeling round stands (with swivel), on the HZ1000 and HZ1500 models.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

The connections are the same as last year, although Panasonic has included support for eARC (enhanced audio return channel) and ALLM (auto low latency mode) on the HDMI inputs. However, the company's failure to fully embrace HDMI 2.1 will disappoint gamers, with no support for VRR (variable refresh rate) and 4K/120Hz.

  The HZ2000 also sits on a fixed rectangular stand that is heavy and sturdy, feeling more in keeping with a TV of this stature

The connections are on the rear and are sideways and rearwards facing. Sideways we have a CI slot, a headphone/subwoofer output, two HDMI 2.0b ports with eARC/ARC on HDMI 2 and a USB 3.0 port. Below these are an RF and two satellite antennas and a LAN port.

Rearwards we have another two USB ports and two further HDMI 2.0b ports. There are also component and legacy video and audio inputs plus a digital audio output.

Related: What is HDMI 2.1?

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

The remote control is the high-end brushed silver metal design with a backlight for use in a dark viewing room. It fits the price point and market-level of the Panasonic HZ2000 and has an intuitive design and button placement with a nice weight to help it sit neatly in the hand.

Voice control is also available since the HZ2000 works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, allowing users to operate certain key TV functions.

Measurements

Out of the Box

As we always do with our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen.

We use Calman colour calibration software, a Murideo Seven Generator and Klein K-10A meter for measurement and calibration.

We used the new Filmmaker Mode with the light sensor switched off for image consistency and checked that all other picture processing was switched off, as it should be. This mode should give the most accurate out of the box settings to the industry standards.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000


Looking at the Greyscale and we have an incredibly accurate result for an out of the box preset, which is the idea with Filmmaker Mode. The Greyscale is not perfectly flat, but looking at the DeltaE errors we can see that they are two and below which is well under the visible threshold of three, so there are no errors seen on screen with film and TV content. Gamma also tracks well at BT.1886 so, for an out of the box preset, the Filmmaker Mode on the HZ2000 is accurate.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000


Moving to the Rec.709 HD colour gamut we can see that, once again, Filmmaker Mode is very accurate with minimal issues or errors within the saturation tracking chart. Red is a smidge oversaturated on the chart and green has a slight hue lean towards blue, but again DeltaE errors are well under the visible threshold of three so, for most viewers, there are no visible inaccuracies within TV and film content we watched in Filmmaker Mode.

Calibrated

As you would expect, the HZ2000 has a full suite of calibration controls including new steps in the Greyscale calibration for the low end of the scale at 0.5% and 1.3%. You can calibrate manually using the controls, or with Calman Autocal and we did so with both approaches and obtained near-identical reference results.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

And looking at the Greyscale you can see that we have indeed obtained reference results with no errors above 0.3, which is well below the visible threshold of three. Things were invisible and accurate out of the box, but calibration just pushes the results even further.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

And the same goes for the Rec.709 HD Colour Gamut with reference results once again and DeltaE errors of 0.8, so there were no visible errors seen in any TV or film-based material we watched on the HZ2000. Well done Panasonic for once again showing how much care and attention is taken with its LUT approach to image accuracy.

HDR Results

Panasonic does a lot of additional work with the panel it purchases from LG Display, the nature of which it will not fully disclose for obvious reasons. It does a lot of engineering and applying a large heatsink helps dissipate heat away from the panel while it pushes the brightness within HDR content to gain up to 20% more output. Taking care of the heat also helps mitigate any issues with image retention as heat is usually one aspect that can cause the issue. This engineering and development also help with producing a more natural video white than the usual cyan white you get from WRGB OLED panels. As always, we measured the peak brightness vs. window size.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

As you can see we managed to measure a peak brightness of 838 nits on the industry-standard 10% window in the most accurate HDR picture mode to D65 (Filmmaker Mode). The HZ2000 also measured this peak brightness from 1, 2 and 5% windows before the ABL cuts in and we end up with a full white field result of 130 nits. These results will vary slightly between panels, screen sizes, equipment used to measure and picture modes, so bear that in mind when comparing between reviews.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

The HZ2000 was also accurate with PQ EOTF tracking to ST.2084 with a consistent track and then hard clip. With 1000 nit content it tracked the standard before hard clipping at 838 nits and with 4000 nits mastered content, there is a slow roll-off that tries to retain specular highlight details.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

Both approaches track the standard correctly and produce exceptionally good HDR results.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

The DCI-P3 within BT.2020 colour gamut results are also very good but not quite wide enough to cover the full gamut, but very few TVs can do that as things stand. Red is a little oversaturated in the saturation tracking graph, but everything else is there or thereabouts when it comes to 75% stimulus and below. This translates into very good colour saturation within HDR content viewed on the HZ2000 with no obvious issues seen within actual viewing materials.

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

We measured BT.2020 coverage at 72% XY and 78% UV. P3 measured 96% XY and 99% UV.


Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

Performance


We tested the 55-inch version of the HZ2000 but performance should be similar on the 65-inch HZ2000 as they use the same type of features and panel.

Gaming performance is good with current console platforms and ALLM is available on the HZ2000 with an input lag of 22ms. HDR gaming is also very good with no dimming of the image due to aggressive ABL or tone mapping and if speed is also not an issue for most gamers, the Panasonic is decent enough. But gaming is not the main focus of this high-end OLED TV.

  The benefits of the panel improvements are in reinforcing the HDR image with a little more headroom than typically available with an OLED panel

'Hollywood to the Home' has been the marketing mantra from Panasonic for a few years now and that is certainly the case with the HZ2000. Filmmaker Mode with Intelligent Sensing is the go-to picture preset for SDR and HDR content, which gives you completely accurate greyscale, gamma/PQ and colour gamut performance to the industry standards, so you will be seeing content as it was intended to be seen. The Intelligent Sensing side of things does work well for those watching in daylight or a well-lit room, but for dim room viewing you should switch the light sensor off.

Dolby Vision IQ
is also available on the HZ2000, but when DV IQ is selected some menu items are greyed out and switched on as default. These greyed out items change the image quality.

  Motion is noticeably improved on the Panasonic OLEDs this year

The issue is that Noise Reduction, MPEG Remaster and Resolution Remaster are switched on to Min and greyed out. IFC Min is also switched on within the Intelligent Frame Creation menu and greyed out. Unlike the LG CX where you can get around these issues and switch them off - on the Panasonic HZ2000 there is no way to defeat the greyed out menu items. We don’t know who made this decision - either Panasonic or Dolby - but whoever it was, we need to ask them to consider changing this approach and fixing it via a firmware update. It is hard to believe the 'Hollywood to the Home' message of the creator's intent when we see picture presets like this that can not be defeated to switch off unwanted picture processing and tampering. While we wait to see if Panasonic changes this approach, users can use Dolby Vision Dark mode which has no processing applied and set the panel luminance for the viewing environment.

The panel uniformity is excellent on the HZ2000 with almost invisible bands on a 5% window with no dark patches found anywhere around the screen. The very fine bands are not visible in any TV or Film content when used as normal. The panel is clean at all brightness levels with no dirty screen effect or vignetting. The beauty of the Panasonic custom professional panel is that whites are accurate to video white and are not cyan like other WRGB panels.

  These greyed out items change the image quality

The video processing from the HCX Pro Intelligent processor also did a fantastic job of upscaling with no ringing or fuzziness seen with scaled content from 576i and HD 1080i/p. SD TV channels are beyond saving, but good quality SD from DVD does look sharp and detailed. HD content is easy enough to scale and we didn’t see any issues at all with the Blu-ray and streaming content we viewed on the HZ2000 over our four-week testing period.

Motion is noticeably improved on the Panasonic OLEDs this year and the HZ2000 manages to produce the goods with 24fps material looking excellent with IFC switched off and the correct pulldown. There were no signs of induced judder within 24fps content we viewed and we also didn’t notice any frameskip in the vast amount of content we viewed. It is still possible to see a slight micro stutter in very rare cases with tricky content, but it is so fleeting that we don’t consider it an issue, however, it would be nice if Panasonic could one day solve the issue.

If you want to experiment with motion for video and fast-moving sports viewing there are a number of choices that gradually increase the soap opera effect (SOE) and artefacts. We found the Max setting was too much for most fast-moving content with objects appearing to have false edges and trailing introduced. There is a Custom setting with adjustment of Blur Reduction and Film Smooth so you can find the right settings to suit your preference. As always we recommend switching off IFC for film and drama content shot at 24fps.

 ... all of that image quality goodness does come at a high price

Black Frame Insertion (BFI) is available as a separate menu option under the IFC menu and here we have choices for Off, Min, Mid, Max and Auto. While Max and Auto were found to have too much flicker for viewing over long periods of time, the new way that BFI works this year makes Min and Mid selection very watchable, but it does reduce overall image brightness. The timing for the insertion of black frames is now varied and, for most viewers, this will mitigate the usual issue of flicker and produce very plasma-like motion, unsurprising given Panasonic’s expertise in the field. While we didn’t notice any obvious motion resolution gains, motion is perceived to be smoother and without SOE when IFC is switched off and BFI is switched to Min or Mid. You should refrain from using BFI with HDR content due to the drop in brightness.

We started out testing with a few days of viewing in the best out of the box settings. This was Filmmaker Mode (FMM) with the panel luminance set to our viewing conditions. All other image processing is defeated in FMM which makes it the best option for movie purists and those who want to see the content as it was intended.

  The picture quality in SDR and HDR is simply stunning with the best just above black and colour performance from all the contenders this year

SDR content on Blu-ray looks superb with fantastic dynamic range thanks to the individual pixel switching capabilities of OLED. Blacks are inky deep as you would expect with no signs of any flashing with low bitrate content. Just above black is excellent and this is where Panasonic with its clean blacks and just above black retrieval stand above every other OLED TV out there, as things stand in 2020. This ability mixed with first-class shadow detail retrieval and mid-tones gives the image amazing depth and texture. Colours are incredibly accurate and natural with a nice balance and fluidity along with no signs of gradational banding in sunsets or tricky colourful surroundings. Skin tones look sublime and life-like with a cinematic sheen and superb motion rounding off what can only be described as close to perfect SDR image quality. And that is with the out of the box FMM. To be honest, with the accuracy on offer out of the box the calibrated performance was not night and day, in fact, it was more or less identical.

But the main event for the HZ2000 has to be the Custom Professional OLED panel, which is where the development in picture quality has been made. This is the reason you make the leap to the flagship model. But if you’re looking for instant WOW factor you may be slightly disappointed. As we keep saying within our reviews and podcasts, the peak brightness figures are only one part of what makes up a great HDR picture and other factors are equally important. So in the initial side by side testing, it may not be immediately obvious where the benefits of this panel brightness help with image quality. The HZ2000 is not a massive step up in the brightness stakes with every piece of content and this did lead to some negativity following some reviews of the GZ2000 last year. The importance of the Custom Pro OLED panel is sometimes described in such a way that it gives a false impression of what it is actually doing in terms of HDR image quality, it’s not all about being dazzlingly bright.

 ... it does produce a wide and expansive soundstage with superb dynamics for a TV-based system

With HDR10 content the HZ2000 produces some of the best HDR images yet seen from an OLED with subtle improvements in the way the tone mapping is applied and detail is visible in the peak specular highlights. The image is balanced and you never feel the ABL kicking in during bright scenes or the image appearing dim because the tone mapping is trying to display an incredibly bright object in one particular scene, lowering the rest of the image as a result. The benefits of the panel improvements are in reinforcing the HDR image with a little more headroom than typically available with an OLED panel and adding this to the excellent mapping of content that helps portray images as accurately as possible, given the capabilities of OLED and this panel. So yes, you can retrieve more details in the brighter areas of the image married to the superb blacks, shadows and mid-tones to create a superb dynamic image with pixel-perfect contrast performance.

Dolby Vision content is also excellent on the Panasonic HZ2000 with the same strengths as with HDR10 mixed with the more detailed dynamic metadata from DV. There are obvious improvements within the very bright specular highlights with detail visible in areas where HDR10 content would hard clip, and image depth is superb with strong, stable blacks and excellent shadow details. Colours are strong but natural and fluid, whites are white without the WRGB cyan push, and skin tones are superb with the entire image taking on a cinematic sheen Panasonic does better than everyone else. Plus, motion remains strong with no issues visible.

If you are looking for the best possible image quality from an OLED TV for movie watching, the HZ2000 is that TV, at a price.

 ... first-class shadow detail retrieval and mid-tones gives the image amazing depth and texture

Just like last year, the Panasonic TX-55HZ2000 has a full-on Technics tuned audio system which consists of a front-firing soundbar at the bottom of the panel and upward-firing drivers for the Dolby Atmos height channels. There are no rear channels so the sound is very much front-heavy, but it does produce a wide and expansive soundstage with superb dynamics for a TV-based system. Dialogue is full and clear with excellent steering across the front, with effects appearing to come from above and to the front. Another interesting advantage of the Panasonic approach to sound quality is the switchable headphone output to a subwoofer out with crossover adjustments. This means that you can add any external subwoofer you like to the HZ2000 and fine-tune the crossover with the TV speakers accurately. I used a BK Monolith and the results were excellent adding a real weight and depth to the sound quality without going over the top.

Verdict

The good

  • Stunning accuracy out of the box in Filmmaker Mode
  • Superb SDR and HDR picture quality
  • Just above black is exceptional
  • The custom pro panel is superb
  • 840 nits peak brightness
  • Dolby Vision and HDR10+
  • Motion is very good
  • Calibration controls and Autocal
  • Very good sound quality
  • Quality remote control
  • Decent smart TV system

The not so good

  • Expensive
  • Dolby Vision IQ has picture processing applied and greyed out
  • No HDMI 2.1 inputs
  • Not a gaming TV

Panasonic HZ2000 OLED TV Review


Having now seen most of the OLED contenders in our testing room this year from Panasonic, Sony, LG and Philips, the HZ2000 produces the ultimate in picture quality for movie viewing in a dim room, so they have managed to live up to their own ‘Hollywood to the Home’ hype. The picture quality in SDR and HDR is simply stunning with the best just above black and colour performance from all the contenders this year.

However, all of that image quality goodness does come at a high price. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that the Panasonic is substantially more expensive than the vast majority of its peers, so is the jump in image quality that noticeable to justify the price?

Well, that is a question only you the reader can answer in respect of what you require from a TV set. If you are a movie viewer who wants the absolute accuracy in OLED picture quality to the industry standards then this is the TV for you, if you can afford it. It does offer the most impressive image quality aligned to how content is intended to be seen, along with a Technics tuned Dolby Atmos sound system with upwards firing speakers in a complete package. If you are not fussed about image accuracy, extra HDR dynamic range and director's intent, then there are numerous cost-effective OLEDs on the market that will produce images to suit those who want bright, vivid and overly colourful images.

The HZ2000 does not have HDMI 2.1 inputs but does support 2.1 features over HDMI 2.0b, namely ALLM (Automatic Low Latency Mode) and eARC. Gaming input lag is a respectable 22ms which should be fast enough for most casual gamers with excellent image quality with HDR games. Obviously, if you must have HDMI 2.1 then the HZ2000 is not the TV for your needs.

This is a flagship TV which has seen extensive engineering to push the technology and that offers the goods for those who are looking for the last word in image quality, along with an impressive sound system. The Panasonic TX-55HZ2000 produces the best image quality I have seen from an OLED TV for movie lovers and is the Best in Class for that use.
Best In Class

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

.
9

Colour Accuracy

10

Greyscale Accuracy

10

Video Processing

.
9

SDR Picture Quality

10

HDR Picture Quality

10

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
9

Picture Quality Calibrated

10

Sound Quality

.
9

Smart Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease of Use

.
9

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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