What is the Panasonic FZ802
Perhaps the most significant of these is the inclusion of HDR10+. Panasonic is at pains to stress the open source, royalty-free nature of the format but the flipside to this is that Dolby Vision remains off the cards. Standard HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) material are also supported, however. Panasonic has also tweaked the performance to better support the HDR requirements of gamers and combined this with their ‘quickest ever’ response times. The problem with HDR10+ is the distinct lack of content available in the format and this is still the case in the closing months of 2018.
Panasonic’s major area of differentiation from the competition remains the picture processing and the FZ802 builds on the already strong offering from last year. The latest version of the company’s HCX processing engine has been fitted and this offers a very high degree of control over colours on screen combined with a notional ability to display over one billion distinct colours, amounting to almost one hundred percent of the DCI-P3 colour space.
This has been partnered with a new Dynamic Lookup Table system that should further enhance colour accuracy. This includes the ability to determine colours at much darker shades than was previously the case and this has been combined with improved fine adjustment at the lower end of the RGB and gamma scales. As well as being adjustable via ISF, this can also be done via Portrait Display’s CalMAN software with AutoCal functionality.
This review sample has been provided by Panasonic UK and will be used by AVForums over a few months to see what the long-term usability and performance is like. It will also be used in comparison testing for reviews of other TVs.
So, now that the price has significantly dropped since launch, does the Panasonic FZ802 offer value for money and the type of performance we have come to expect from the brand? Let’s find out…
Design, Connections and Control
The FZ802 sits on a traditional looking metal stand with a large and heavy metal base. It connects to the panel via a metal neck positioned at the central rear area of the base and this connects to the central bottom area of the panel. There are some cable guides within the rear of the stand neck for cable management as well as some covers to hide these. The rear of the panel has the same minimalist approach as the front with just the connections and fixed power cable breaking up the lines. The rear section containing the connections, speakers and electronics sits out approximately 44mm from the panel and covers two-thirds of the rear of the TV. There are cooling slots to the top of this.
To the side, we have a USB 3.0 slot, RF terrestrial connector and two Satellite tuner connections along with a LAN port, CI slot and SD card. There are also two, full bandwidth, HDMI 2.0b ports which will accept 4:4:4 60P 4K signals.
The rear-facing connections include two HDMI 2.0 slots that will accept 4K 30P signals, two USB 2.0 slots, legacy RCA connections and a digital audio output. HDMI 2 is ARC compatible. The power cable is hardwired at the right side of the rear panel.
Controlling the FZ802 is a traditional plastic Panasonic remote control that has a very familiar layout. This is a step down from the metal remotes provided with the FZ952 but it is perfectly functional and is not missing out on any features (apart from the backlight).
It has a gunmetal grey style finish to the plastic face and it sits neatly in the hand with a decent weight to it. While plastic, it does have nicely raised buttons which are easy to use and don’t feel rubbery. There are direct keys for Netflix and Freeview Play along with a Home button and direct TV guide access buttons. The directional and enter keys are towards the top of the unit and everything is well thought-out and logical. It might be a traditional plastic remote but it serves its purpose and will be familiar to anyone who has used a Panasonic device in the last decade.
Functionality and Features
Clicking Live TV opens up the Freeview Play tuner and lets you browse Live TV. This service is incredibly intuitive to use with easy browsing of Now and Next cards using the directional keys on the remote. There is also a Discover bar which drops down from the top of the screen when you press the Freeview Play button on the remote control. This gives you direct access to a quick look guide, catch-up, search and recommendations.
Selecting Apps opens up the Application page, which is broken down into sections. The top part of the page contains the Freeview Play catch-up apps, such as iPlayer, ITV, All 4, Demand 5 and others like UKTV Play. You can also open up the Freeview explore application from here.
Below this section is the Apps Market along with preloaded items such as Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube, which are 4K HDR capable. iPlayer is also UHD HLG compatible for selected content, like David Attenborough's Dynasties. Other video-on-demand services are available on the Panasonic system through the store access.
Clicking on Devices from the home screen does what you would expect and brings up the various sources connected to the TV via HDMI or other connections. You can also pin any of these items to the Home screen so you have direct access just by pressing the Home key and then selecting what you have pinned there.
The menu system on the Panasonic FZ802 is intuitive to use but may also look a little daunting to new users at first. You can access everything you need to control or adjust for the TV's parameters, although it is possible to get lost within the maze of settings available. I personally do not have a problem with this layout and most AVForums members would be the same, but I also accept that normal consumers don’t always need this level of adjustment or may find the whole approach intimidating. Perhaps a basic menu on default would ease that issue, with an advanced option available that has to be activated.
Calibration controls are plentiful with excellent picture presets to add adjustments and ISF professionals can also lock them so calibrated settings cannot be accidentally erased. You can also add the presets you want to see when pressing the picture button on the remote control, so it only shows you what you have selected. So, for example, if you select THX and Professional 1, only those presets will be shown when you select picture on the remote. The FZ802 is also Ultra HD Premium certified and has full ISFccc certification, including a full suite of calibration controls and a new 12-point white balance line-up under the advanced menu.
The panel is a 2018 LG Display supplied unit.
Intelligent Frame Creation is also available for those who want to enhance the image smoothing of content they watch with various settings available, including black frame insertion (BFI). This is available in the options menu along with game mode. BFI works but with low frame rate images like 24fps and our 50Hz broadcast system, flicker is really noticeable and in our opinion it is unwatchable. Game mode is designed to lower the input lag for fast gamers to enjoy; we will be testing this later in the review.
Panasonic also released a firmware update on the 30th of October 2018, which now enables its 2018 range of European 4K Smart TVs to work with the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa devices. With this update, users can use their voice to turn their TV on and off, change the channel, adjust the volume, and much more.
Finally, the FZ802 is a 2018 OLED TV and features the latest the technology has to offer including various forms of High Dynamic Range content. The main feature for Panasonic is their support for the open source HDR10+ format that is also supported by Philips and Samsung when it comes to TVs. This is a dynamic metadata system that promises per scene adjustments to make sure the HDR content is being shown as intended within the capabilities of the TV in question. However, finding actual content that can be verified as HDR10+ is extremely difficult. Amazon is supposedly using it but as the FZ802 doesn’t tell you what type of HDR signal it is receiving there is no way to tell if that is the case. We really like the fact that LG OLED TVs display a small logo at the top right of the screen telling you exactly what type of HDR signal it is receiving. It would be cool if other manufacturers, like Panasonic, could introduce the same type of feature to make it easy to see exactly what the TV is doing.
The FZ802 also supports standard HDR10 material and the broadcast friendly Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) flavour currently being used by the iPlayer for the recent Dynasties wildlife series. The FZ802 does not and will not support Dolby Vision. This may be an issue for some users as that format continues to go from strength to strength with hundreds of TV series and films in Dolby Vision now available via streaming, on-demand and 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. Will you be missing out by not having Dolby Vision on the FZ802? Only you can answer that question, but we wouldn’t be put off from owning the FZ802 and not having access to it as, though there are differences between Dolby Vision and HDR10, they are subtle most of the time and HDR10 is not bad at all performance wise.
Out of the Box Measurements
The Rec.709 colour gamut saturation tracking was also very good (top right). Almost all the points are correct with just a slight hue drift on green and magenta that shows up on the graph but it is not visible to the vast majority of viewers with onscreen content. Overall, it is another impressive set of results from Panasonic with the FZ802B.
Moving to the Rec.709 saturation tracking (top right) and once again we have a reference level result with all the points where they should be and DeltaE errors well under one, with no visible errors. This means that Rec.709 HD content will have excellent greyscale and colour accuracy to bring you the image as it was mastered and intended to be seen.
The colour gamut saturation tracking for DCI-P3 inside Rec.2020 (top right) is also very good with just a couple of points having any issue with hue or saturation. DeltaE errors were under five, which is very good for an out of the box preset. This provides the FZ802 with a very accurate colour performance for HDR content and with the tone mapping employed, we get a very consistent and punchy image. We measured BT.2020 coverage at XY 71% and UV 75% with DCI-P3 at XY 96% and UV 99%. Peak brightness in this accurate mode was 720 nits on a 10% window, which is also very good for an OLED panel. It will go much brighter in the far less accurate modes but we don’t see the point in that as why would you want to watch films that don’t look their best? One curious thing we noted was with the peak brightness tracking, as the FZ802 does get slightly brighter with a 10% window the longer you leave it, before the ABL finally cuts in and it drops off. It has no impact on performance, but was a curious trait we noted during testing. We also noted that there was no issue at all with black crush in SDR and HDR viewing that had been a slight issue with the FZ952 when we reviewed it earlier in the year.
Panel Uniformity, Viewing Angles and Image RetentionThe Panasonic FZ802 uses a 2018 LG display panel with Panasonic’s own video processing and chipset behind the panel. We didn’t see any issues with panel uniformity and there are no dark edges, vignetting and dirty screen effect (DSE) issues with this panel. At 2% black, we did see panel banding, which is common on all manufactured OLEDs, but this is not visible with day-to-day use and normal viewing material. Sports viewing is also spot on with no signs of banding within camera pans over areas of the same colour, such as pitches.
As it is an OLED TV we also do not have any issues with viewing angles, as the image remains bright and consistent even to the most extreme angles, with no obvious colour or contrast shifting. This is a strength of OLED when compared to traditional VA panel LED LCD TVs which tend to suffer from very noticeable issues from around 30 degrees viewing angle.
Image retention is an issue with OLED TVs and how much of an issue depends on the use of the panel and the viewing modes used. Some light retention is possible when watching news channels with bright or colourful logos, or in our case using HDR text patterns sometimes leaves a slight trace. In these cases, the retention will disappear after some use and the Panasonic also has its own mitigation technology that cleans the screen in standby. Burn-in is something entirely different and is permanent damage to the panel with a static image burnt into the panel. This is extremely rare and I have only personally seen it once with an early prototype screen that had been used to display the company logo 24 hours a day over a long trade show event. I have yet to see any examples in person with modern OLEDs.
Users need to be aware that there are risks of image retention and think about how their use of the screen may add to this risk. Certainly, I have been running several OLED TVs on a regular basis with some gaming and news channel viewing and have yet to see anything that hasn’t disappeared in a few minutes to an hour of use. Many forum members also have very positive feedback with using their screen over months and years without any major issues, so as long as you are aware of the risks and what might cause issues, you can make a decision based on your potential use. But it is not a common issue with normal use for TV and movie viewing, so it is a balance against your usage scenario. I personally have no issues buying an OLED TV.
Black Levels and Contrast PerformanceThe Panasonic FZ802 is an OLED TV and as such it has a tremendous black level performance with superb shadow detail retrieval in SDR and HDR mode. The slight issue we did pick up on with the FZ952 slightly crushing blacks is not present here with our review sample. The FZ802 easily hit our 120 nit target for SDR calibration as well as a peak brightness of 720 nits in the most accurate HDR settings, with black levels at 0 nits which means the on/off and ANSI contrast results are infinity.
With this superb contrast and dynamic range, we get images in both SDR and HDR that have incredible depth and pop, with stunningly accurate colours. Being self-emissive technology on a per-pixel basis also means that you can have peak whites right next to deep backs with no haloing or blooming you would potentially get from an LED LCD FALD backlight. This is the real strength of OLED when compared to the far brighter LED LCD screens. Best used in a pitch black room for movie viewing, OLED technology gets around the lack of absolute brightness, but offering a fantastic dynamic range with strengths in the lower reaches of the image brightness, where our eyes are more drawn to changes in brightness, than with super bright highlights. This is where OLED gets its unique image quality.
Motion handling and video processing performanceAs we would expect from Panasonic image processing, scaling and motion are very good indeed.
With motion, we saw no issues at all with 24fps material where there was no induced judder or image blur that wasn’t already part of the source material. We had IFC switched off for this content and all our tests were passed with flying colours. With 50i broadcast material, there were no obvious issues seen with news tickers or frame skipping, with motion on interlaced material looking very clean. We did notice the odd frame issue with BBC iPlayer content that we have seen with other review TVs and long termers we have here, but nothing that is a result of the Panasonic FZ802’s performance, it’s the app that has the issue here. Other apps were perfectly fine, with film and TV show content looking good with no motion issues.
The scaling performance was also first rate with no issues seen with HD content at all. With SD there is some noise reduction required to clean up issues and some channels do look decidedly soft, but again this isn’t really the fault of the FZ802. SD broadcast channels can look incredibly bad at times, but that is on any 4K TV.
Black Frame Insertion (BFI) is available on the FZ802 and you find this, not in the IFC menus, but in the options menu next to the game mode. We didn’t find BFI to be very pleasing to watch at all as the flicker is too obvious and can make viewing uncomfortable very quickly.
Moving on to IFC (Intelligent Frame Creation) and we have four options to choose from with Custom, Min, Mid and Max. In Custom you can experiment with the two controls when watching video-based material to get motion looking smooth without adding in obvious SOE (Soap Opera Effect) in some cases. It is worth experimenting for use with fast-moving sports and video-based TV shows, but with film and drama, we would suggest switching it off completely. Be aware that all picture modes ship with IFC set to min.
Input LagLike the FZ952, the FZ802 measurements for SDR and HDR input lag was 22ms and this is certainly fast enough for the vast majority of gamers. We also found that, with HDR gaming, the FZ802 was nice and bright with no issues with aggressive ABL or image dimming or clipping. Gaming is good fun and fast.
Sound QualityUnlike the FZ952 there is no soundbar as part of the FZ802 design and this is the major difference between the screens. If you don’t need a soundbar then the obvious choice is the FZ802, so how does it sound?
Using downward firing speakers, the sound quality is what you would expect from such a panel. Volume is good with a nice weight to the sound and good stereo separation. Bass is nothing to shout home about, but treble and high frequencies are well controlled and dialogue is always intelligible. It won’t add any drama to your movie soundtracks, but buyers will likely have their own standalone audio solution if that content is important. As a living room TV, the audio quality is very good for normal viewing.
Panasonic FZ802 Picture Performance
Out of the Box Performance – SDRDynamic mode – This certainly lives up to its name with bright and over the top colours. Gamma is bright and detail is missing from faces, making everyone look like they have had Botox. Motion is also on full from default so the image has lots of Soap Opera Effect (SOE) and whites are blue. This mode is best avoided.
Normal mode – This is actually a better solution for brightness than the Dynamic mode, but it is also still far from being accurate. Whites are blue but there are some details now back in faces and skin tones look a little more natural. The FZ802 ships in this mode but it has most of the image processing features turned on along with IFC, so SOE is a problem here too. If you want accuracy, and that is one reason you buy the Panasonic, use the modes below and not this one.
THX Cinema/ Professional 1 & 2 – These modes are the most accurate to the industry standards out of the box, but have subtle differences in the way they are set up. THX Cinema has the least amount of processing switched on as default, including IFC, and it has accurate image quality. You could use this mode for all your evening viewing and switch to THX Bright mode for daytime hours when there is more light in the room.
Professional 1 and 2 are also incredibly accurate out of the box and for this review we used Professional 1. Be aware that image processing and IFC features are switched on as default, so you will need to switch those off if you use this mode. As you can see above in the measurement area, out of the box results were astonishingly good and the FZ802 produces an incredibly natural and accurate image with SDR content. Skin tones are extremely accurate and lifelike with plenty of detail on display from facial lines to pores in close-ups. Colours look utterly natural and are some of the best OLED TV colours we have seen this year. They are not as intense as the LG and Philips screens, but rather they look a little more natural and nuanced, although differences are only really noticeable when seen in comparisons.
Add the image accuracy to the excellent motion with 24fps movies and you have one of the most cinematic TV pictures we have seen this year. Blacks are stunning with just above black detail is also looking superb. Shadow details are not crushed at the lower end, so the image takes on a great degree of depth. The image quality really is first class with SDR content out of the box.
Out of the Box HDR 4KSwitching up to HDR content and the Panasonic continues to impress with its cinematic look to images. Brightness and peak highlights are strong and vivid, especially when contrasted against the deep blacks and shadow detail retrieval the FZ802 is capable of. It cannot compete with the brightness and impact of the Samsung Q900R we reviewed just before the FZ802, but it offers a different take on HDR that has more inky blacks and contrast, along with pixel-precise dynamic range, as opposed to a FALD backlight with zones. Each technology has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Using our go-to 4000 nit mastered favourites, Pan and Blade Runner 2049 on 4K UHD disc, we were not surprised by the outstanding images the FZ802 is capable of producing. The real standout for me, personally, is the colour accuracy mixed with mid-tone details and shadows that pull you into the image and create superb depth and accuracy. As the raft in Pan is about to be attacked by a huge crocodile in the darkness, and we are in the shadows with just three flaming torches for light, the detail within the darker reaches of the image is sumptuous with copious amounts of depth and texture that adds in realism. Flames have detail and tonality with them, rather than just bright yellow objects. It’s all very impressive and you start watching one demo clip and end up watching right through to the end, even with a really bad film like Pan. We also didn’t find any issues with tricky HDR content such as the New Vegas scenes in Blade Runner 2049.
Calibrated PerformanceThe differences between calibrated and out of the box performance in the most accurate image preset are very small. We would always suggest a professional set up as it isn’t just about calibrating the image, but your entire video chain, however, for those on a budget you can rest assured that out of the box performance is very accurate indeed.
Once calibrated, we revisted our favourite test scenes and films and were knocked out by the quality on offer from the FZ802. It really isn’t a step-down model when compared to the FZ952, the only difference is the soundbar, so you don’t ever need to feel like you are missing out on something. SDR and HDR images are stunningly cinematic and accurate, which is the whole point of the Panasonic range this year. Hollywood to your Home is very true.
In comparisons with the Philips 903 and LG C8, the Panasonic just has that more natural look to its colour reproduction and tone, it just feels more nuanced and real. Skin tones are especially good and the black levels and shadow detailing simply add a realistic depth to images. The BBC Dynasties documentary in Hybrid Log-Gamma looks stunning on the FZ802, with superb dynamic range and pop to the image. Grasses and plants look natural, yet colourful and the tiger's fur is superbly detailed with the colours and shadows adding depth and dynamics. Brightness is also consistent throughout with no signs of abrupt changes in scenes or ABL dimming down the image. Overall, the FZ802 is one of the best we have seen this year.
- Stunning out of the box image accuracy
- Excellent black levels and shadow details
- Superb natural colour reproduction
- Excellent image sharpness and motion
- Very good HDR performance that is also very accurate
- Good sound quality for TV viewing
- Excellent input lag
- Only two full bandwidth HDMI inputs
- No Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos support
Panasonic FZ802 (55FZ802) Review
In terms of 2018 OLED TVs, each manufacturer has added their own touches to what is essentially the same LG Display supplied panel and, as such, we have been given a number of excellent models, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. There are so many positives with the FZ802 but let's start with what is probably the negative that might cost it the most when it comes to sales, and that is the lack of Dolby Vision. So, is it a big deal? At the start of 2018 I would probably have argued that it wasn’t a must-have feature and in terms of performance against HDR10 content, the differences are subtle, with tone mapping on all HDR10 capable TVs getting much better as the year has progressed. But as the year has passed we have also seen far more Dolby Vision content being released on disc and via VOD and streaming services. This might just affect the priorities of anyone looking at picking up the FZ802.
However, the Panasonic is still the most cinematic of all the OLED TVs I have lived with and reviewed this year with stunning accuracy, deep blacks and the most natural looking colours. And, given the current pricing, you could find yourself with a bit of a bargain when it comes to performance vs. value. It comes highly recommended.
What are my alternatives?There are quite a number of 55-inch OLED TVs that offer image quality that is close to the FZ802 as well as other features. The AF8 from Sony is roughly the same price point and offers similar image quality and the Acoustic Surface technology along with Dolby Vision support, although the Android Smart system is not quite as reliable.
You also have Philips and the OLED803, which is their OLED without the soundbar and again similar in price to the FZ802. It has Ambilight and the brightest HDR we have seen from an OLED TV in 2018 and it also supports HDR10+ but not Dolby Vision.
Finally, you have a choice between two LG screens. The LG B8 is the most cost-effective high-performance OLED TV on the market offering Dolby Vision and every other flavour of HDR, except HDR10+, along with stunning image quality and the choice of two table stands depending on the model suffix. Or you could have the slightly more advanced A9 processor in the 55-inch LG C8 which offers probably the best all-round package with WebOS smart TV, all the HDR flavours bar HDR10+ and excellent sound and image quality.
The choice of OLED TVs has never been so comprehensive or competitive.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
SDR Picture Quality
HDR Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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