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Panasonic GZ950 4K OLED TV Review

Is this the most accurate bargain of the year?

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £1,799.00

What is the Panasonic GZ950?

The Panasonic TX-55GZ950B is the entry-level screen in the company’s 2019 OLED line-up and comes with a whole host of features to make sure you get Hollywood to your home. The 2019 line-up consists of the GZ950 and GZ1000 which are identical apart from the stands and the GZ1500 adds a speaker bar. All three are identical in terms of features and picture quality. The GZ2000 is the flagship and adds in a custom professional OLED panel and upwards-firing Dolby Atmos speakers.

The GZ950B features the HCX Pro Intelligent Processor which is designed to deliver accurate images to the industry standards, so you can view content as the creator intended. Panasonic engineers have tuned the panel and the processor to deliver superb black levels with just above black details and a neutral white balance that removes the traditional WRGB cyan tint.

Adding to the picture quality line-up is full support of both dynamic metadata Dolby Vision and HDR10+ systems, as well as HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), HLG Photo and HDR10. There is also a full suite of Calibration tools, as well as CalMAN AutoCal support. The GZ950B is also THX-Certified with two picture modes for day and night as well as ISFccc ready Professional modes. A Netflix Calibrated mode is also available.

Dolby Atmos
audio is supported via speakers built into the TV but unlike the GZ2000 there is no soundbar or upwards-firing drivers. However, you can add a subwoofer to the TV audio system using the switchable headphone jack and there are crossover and volume selections within the menu.

The 55GZ950B features Panasonic’s new My Home Screen 4.0 that allows users to tailor the TV user interface to their own preference. There's a redesigned GUI and support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, allowing users to operate the TV just using their voice.

The GZ950 is available as a 55-inch priced at £1499 and a 65-inch at £2199 at the time of this review in early November 2019. They could, however, be found for less by shopping around online.

Panasonic GZ950 Video Review



Design, Connections and Control

Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

The Panasonic TX-55GZ950B is a simple design that is minimalist and sharp. The panel sits on a stand that has a heavy flat plate and a rearward-facing pole that connects to the rear centre of the panel. This raises the panel around two and a half inches from the mounting surface giving you plenty of room to place a soundbar beneath the screen. The panel has a Panasonic logo in the centre of the bottom bezel and a 1mm metal strip surrounds the bezel-less screen. There is an LED power light also visible on the bottom left of the panel.

Around the back, we have the connections which are sideways and rearward facing. There is a plastic cover that can be used to hide the connections, but this is not usable when you have cables using the rearward-facing ports. There is also some cable management through the rear of the stand.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

Sideways facing connections consist of a common interface slot, a headphone and subwoofer 3.5mm jack, two HDMI 2.0B slots, a USB 3.0 slot, RF and Satellite antennas and an ethernet port. Rearwards, we have two further USB 2.0 and HDMI 2.0b ports, composite RCA and stereo RCA and an optical digital out.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

The remote control supplied with the GZ950B is a silver plastic affair and the keys are all laid out in a logical and intuitive manner. The remote fits with the overall design and market position of the TV.

  ...a simple design that is minimalist and sharp

Measurements

Out of the Box

As we always do within 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.

Calibration is a goal for some users, but for the majority, this is not an option, so actually knowing how accurate the out of the box presets are is very important in any honest TV review.

We see absolutely no point in assessing and reviewing TVs in only the perfectly calibrated picture modes as this doesn’t reflect what the vast majority of buyers will experience with the TV. Calibration and measurement are important for the overall assessment of the TV, but we don’t only focus on the calibrated performance here at AVForums.

The marketing push this year from Panasonic is Hollywood to the Home, so we expect the out of the box professional modes to be accurate to the industry standards. After testing three Panasonic OLEDs so far this year we also expect most purchased sets to get close to accuracy even taking into account the possibility of panel variance.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

The greyscale tracking is very good with just a slight lack of blue, and green is just a smidge too high, but the DeltaE errors are two and under, which is well below the visible threshold of three. This means that most users shouldn’t see any errors on screen or any tint to whites. Gamma also tracks very well to the BT.1886 standards, so for an out of the box picture mode the Professional 2 setting is accurate.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

Moving to the Rec.709 HD colour gamut and, again, almost all the points are accurate with just a hue error for magenta taking the shine off things slightly. However, this is very similar to all the Panasonic OLED TVs we have measured so far this year and the error will be unseen by the majority of viewers with our DeltaE errors under the visible threshold of three, so well done Panasonic. The graphs could have looked a little more accurate but, with such low DeltaE errors, the issues in the graphs are actually unseen with viewing material.

Calibrated

Like the previously reviewed GZ2000 and GZ1500 OLED TVs, the GZ950 has full manual calibration control available along with CalMAN AutoCal. We used both approaches with the GZ950.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

As you would expect, following the accuracy of the out of the box results, we were able to get reference looking charts once calibrated. Gamma and greyscale tracking are superb with DeltaE errors all well under one, which is well below the visible threshold of three. Indeed, our average DeltaE error was 0.19, so real reference results are possible.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

Now with the Rec.709 colour gamut, we were able to get excellent results that are reference level with our average DeltaE errors at 0.21 and the maximum error at 0.3, so absolutely as low as you can get under the visible threshold of three. For SDR, the Panasonic GZ950 is supremely accurate when calibrated.

HDR Results

We measured the GZ950 out of the box in the most accurate picture mode for the D65 white point at 671 nits on a 10% window, which is the industry standard testing method. When displaying a full screen white the brightness drops to 144 nits but it has a relaxed ABL circuit so the panel doesn’t suddenly reduce brightness as scenes change to one full of white light, it is more gradual and not as visible to the eye as some rival screens from Sony and Philips.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

As we always point out, the Peak Brightness is just one small part of what makes up an HDR10 image and other factors like dynamic tone mapping have a greater impact on performance.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

The PQ EOTF follows the standard to just over 600 nits where it then rolls off towards 670 nits before a hard clip at 80% stim. The greyscale tracking is also excellent at D65 and this all starts to build up a very good HDR10 performance.
Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

The DCI-P3 colour gamut cover is also very good and while the GZ950 doesn’t quite reach the full gamut size, it is fairly accurate from 75% and below when looking at the saturation tracking chart. The only issue we see is with a slight hue error in magenta but this is not seen within on-screen HDR10 content. Overall, the Panasonic TX55GZ950B produces an excellent HDR performance for an OLED. We measured BT2020 at 71% XY and 74% UV along with P3 coverage of 96% XY and 99% UV.

  ...it has a relaxed ABL circuit so the panel doesn’t suddenly reduce brightness as scenes change to one full of white light

Performance


Just like every other Panasonic OLED we have measured and tested this year, the GZ950B is incredibly accurate to the standards out of the box and calibrated with SDR content. It also produces an excellent HDR image with HDR10, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ content, with stunning black levels, class-leading just above black detail retrieval and superb colour hues and tones. All that is really lacking from the GZ950 is the extra brightness of the flagship GZ2000.

The panel uniformity was excellent, just like the other Panasonic screens we have tested, with no banding or blotchiness seen at 5% stim, and no dirty screen effects seen in brighter areas of the image. Upscaling was also superb with excellent detail and edges without any ringing or other artefacts being visible and the motion was also very good indeed with IFC switched off. We also didn’t see any examples of black flickering in poor compressed material that can be seen on competing screens. Our GZ2000 review gives you the full details on why that is the case.

SDR looks incredibly dynamic and cinematic with superb upscaling and motion with 24fps material. The pulldown is correct so motion is correct with no induced judder seen and 1080P Blu-rays look incredibly sharp and detailed without any back door processing being applied. Colours are superb and look very natural and lifelike with stunning skin tones. The Panasonic look is indeed very cinematic with SDR content.

 All that is really lacking from the GZ950 is the extra brightness of the flagship GZ2000

HDR content also looks superb with excellent tone mapping preserving detail in the bright reaches of the image, with black levels, shadows and mid-tones also adding depth and scale to the image. The dynamic range is superb with pixel-level accuracy and the ABL circuit is relaxed so sudden changes in image brightness don’t cause visible changes or dimming of the overall image. We also didn’t encounter any issues of posterisation within HDR images or other image artefacts.

As with the GZ2000 review, we put the GZ950 in direct comparison with a Sony BVM-X300 studio mastering monitor and, with SDR content, they were very close in terms of image quality but with HDR content the differences were more apparent with some colour tones and hues, and overall peak brightness. But the ‘Hollywood to your Home’ message from Panasonic is valid and the OLED TVs this year are incredibly accurate.

Even when directly compared to its peers, the GZ950 on every occasion matched or even bettered the performance seen. Against the flagship GZ2000 we couldn’t separate the screens in SDR with each looking identical to the other with superb image brightness, sharpness and detail. Colours also looked identical, which is what we expected to see. When we moved to HDR content both screens remained very similar in the majority, with the GZ2000 offering a little more brightness in the highlights, along with visible detail that the GZ950 clipped. The GZ2000 also had a touch more depth thanks to a generally brighter underpinning, but the GZ950 tone mapping was also a touch brighter which robbed it of some depth and added clipping at the brighter end of the scale. But given the price difference between the two screens, the GZ950 holds its own against the flagship.

We also compared the GZ950 against the LG C9 where it offered a slightly better colour performance and white tone in HDR with a smidge better motion. However, the C9 with its custom tone mapping and dynamic tone mapping pro was also impressive and we struggled to really separate the two when it came to SDR performance. We also tested the GZ950 against the Philips OLED+934 and again the differences with SDR were minimal. With HDR, the Panasonic wins out with a brighter and more dynamic image and accurate colours; where the 934 is redder in the whites and has a darker tone map. But again, we are splitting hairs here.

The gaming performance is also strong on the GZ950 with ALLM available through the menus and an input lag time of 22ms making the Panasonic fast for most gamers. The My Home Screen version 4 is also an excellent smart TV and OS system that provides all the major catch-up service under the Freeview Play banner, as well as HDR 4K playback from Amazon, Netflix and YouTube apps. The menu system is also a little long in the tooth, but is perfectly functional and has every option you may need in setting up and everyday use.

Sound quality from the GZ950 is also adequate for a built-in system and you can add a subwoofer to gain even more weight via the switchable headphone socket. You also have volume and crossover selections available in the menu system.

 Overall, we were impressed by the accuracy and image quality on offer when you consider the price point of the GZ950

Verdict

The Good

  • Superb accuracy out of the box
  • Reference levels of accuracy when calibrated
  • Dolby Vision and HDR10+ playback
  • Stunning dynamic range performance
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Very good OS and smart TV system
  • Netflix Calibrated mode
  • Subwoofer output via switchable headphone out
  • THX Certified
  • Very good build quality

The Bad

  • No HDMI 2.1
  • Sound quality is lacking

Panasonic GZ950 4K OLED TV Review


Where we struggled with the value for money assessment with the GZ2000 flagship, the GZ950 is a far easier TV to score. It is an absolute bargain for those wanting image accuracy for viewing film content in a dimly lit room and where you have an existing off-board audio system.

The image quality with SDR is sublime and cinematic with superb colour reproduction to Rec.709 and reference greyscale results. Motion is also excellent with superb upscaling for HD content to the panel's native 4K resolution.

HDR10 playback is also superb and is only slightly different from the brighter GZ2000 with highlight detail. The GZ950 tends to clip those highlights more readily and with a slightly darker tone map but, in all other respects, it matches the very best HDR currently available via an OLED TV. Dolby Vision is also excellent with the dynamic tone mapping of the system making sure that where detail is clipped in HDR10, it is present with the Dolby Vision mapping. Colours are also superb with excellent skin tones and the shadow details within the darker reaches of the image are sublime, adding real depth to the image.

So, Panasonic lives up to the “Hollywood to your Home” marketing with the GZ950 offering superb image accuracy with SDR and HDR content. The current pricing at the time of this review in early November 2019 also makes this one of the best value propositions at the 55 and 65-inch screen sizes. The OS and Smart TV system also stand up well with no issues regarding speed or reliability and for gaming, we get an input lag of just 22ms, which is also excellent.

The sound system is perhaps the weakest link with the GZ950, but at the current price point, you can easily add an aftermarket soundbar or surround system to round off the package.

Overall, we think the GZ950 offers superb value for money when it comes to a quality OLED TV with excellent panel uniformity, video processing and accurate image quality in SDR and HDR. Movie fans will love the cinematic images it produces and while it might be lacking some features available on its peers, such as HDMI 2.1, it also produces one of the best images we have seen at the price point out of the box. We don’t envy anyone choosing which OLED TV to buy at this level of the market, but we do consider the Panasonic GZ950 to be a Best Buy.

Best Buy

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

.
9

Colour Accuracy

10

Greyscale Accuracy

10

Video Processing

.
9

Picture Quality

.
9

SDR Picture Quality

10

HDR Picture Quality

.
9

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
9

Picture Quality Calibrated

10

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Smart Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
9

Ease of Use

.
9

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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