Although it may not have as much “pull” as the Korean manufacturers, the Japanese firm Panasonic continues to launch high-quality televisions. Especially when we talk about models located in the high range. As evidenced by the new Panasonic FZ950, a 4K OLED TV that achieves impressive image quality . A television that arrives ready to become a tough rival to the Samsung Q9F, the Sony AF8, the LG OLED E8 or the Philips OLED 973. And, as we will see now, there is no shortage of arguments.
In addition to great image quality, it has powerful sound thanks to the bar designed by Technics. It also sports a beautiful glass design with premium finishes. And there is no lack of a Smart TV system that, although it is not as complete as that of its rivals, offers the majority of applications that users are looking for. All this with a fairly competitive price, always remembering that we are talking about high-end devices. I have had the opportunity to test the 65-inch model of the Panasonic FZ950 and in this review I will tell you all its secrets .
Panasonic FZ950 datasheet
|Diagonal||65 inches (also available in 55 inches)|
|Resolution and technology||4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), Ultra HD Premium, THX certified display, HDR10 +|
|Dimensions (with base)||144.9 x 90.9 x 33 cm (65 inches)|
|Weight (with stand)||36 kg (65 inches)|
|Support||Elongated bracket to position the soundbar|
|Operating system||my Home Screen 3.0|
|Apps||YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video, Plex|
|Control||Classic remote, touchpad remote and TV Remote app|
|Sound||Technics Soundbar, 80W (20W x 2 + 20W x 2), Cinema Surround Pro|
|Connections||4 x HDMI, 2 CI, SD Card, RCA In, Digital Audio Out (Optical), Headphone Out, DVB-T / T2 / DVB-S2 / DVB-C, 3 x USB, LAN, Composite|
|Wireless connectivity||WiFi and Bluetooth|
|Price||55 inches: 2,300 euros|
65 inches: 3,600 euros
It will attract the attention of your guests
If you are followers of the Japanese manufacturer, surely the design of the Panasonic FZ950 is familiar to you. And it is that this new model follows the same line that we saw in the Panasonic EZ1000 last year.
We start at the front. We have a panel with virtually invisible edges between the four sides . At the bottom we have a few millimeter edges, on which the brand logo is located. There is no doubt that the screen is the main protagonist.
A leading role that it shares with the huge sound bar that we have at the bottom. This is placed on the support , almost literally, since the installation consists of simply "dropping it". The soundbar is connected to the TV using a small special cable that, once plugged in, goes completely unnoticed.
To place the television on the furniture we have a pedestal type support. The "neck" that connects this bracket to the panel is quite thick and sports a matte black color. In reality, you can hardly see anything, as it is almost hidden behind the soundbar . This support is wider than that of last year's model, I understand that to give a little more stability to the whole. The truth is that the television is perfectly positioned on the furniture. At no time does it give the feeling of instability.
At the back, as is usually the case with OLED TVs, we clearly identify two different parts. The top shows a nice black glass finish , very premium. However, the lower part is somewhat less showy.
In it we find the electronics area, so it gets quite fat. We will be about 5 centimeters thick. The housing is made of plastic, with a rough touch to the touch . The power connector is on the right side (looking at the TV in front of the screen) and the rest of the connectors are on the opposite side.
Good connectivity, with some "but"
The latter are covered by a lid to hide them . But here I must make a stop. When removing the cover we have all the connectors that we have reviewed in the technical sheet. However, only some are placed horizontally . The rest are placed in the front position, which means that, if we have to use them, the lid can no longer be put on. It is something that I do not understand, since the idea of the cover is good to have a cleaner back, but useless as soon as we have several devices to connect to the television.
In lateral format we have two HDMI ports, a USB port and the tuners . The rest of the connections, such as the important network connection or the digital optical output, are in the front position. For example in my case I could not put the cover, since I had to use 3 HDMI ports.
And speaking of HDMI connectors, I must give Panasonic another "touch". Of the four HDMI ports, only HDMI 1 and HDMI 2 have full bandwidth . What does this mean? In my case, for example, that when I connected the PS4 Pro to HDMI 3, the HDR did not recognize me in games. With the aggravating circumstance that the ARC port is precisely HDMI 2. Since we only have two “full” HDMIs, they could have placed the ARC protocol in another of the HDMI ports. This, which has frustrated me a bit personally, the majority of users may not be affected in the least. But you must know it to take it into account.
Finally comment that the Panasonic FZ950 comes with two included controls . The first is a complete controller, possibly one of the best on the market. It has a very elegant metallic finish , direct buttons to the most common services and a specific button to illuminate the keys, something that I have not seen in any other model.
The second command, however, is not overly useful. It is a more compact, although quite thick, controller that has a large central touchpad . It is not a very ergonomic controller and honestly, the touch control did not work as expected. It is somewhat imprecise and in the end it pays to use the arrow keys instead of the touch part.
Cutting edge technology
Before entering to assess the image quality achieved by the television, we are going to review the technical characteristics of the Panasonic FZ950. We have a 10-bit OLED panel with a 4K UHD resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.
The TV is equipped with the second generation HCX processor . This is capable of working with HDR10 and HLG images, but also with the HDR10 + dynamic metadata system. It does not support Dolby Vision as Panasonic is one of the main companies supporting the HDR10 + system.
The Panasonic FZ950 features more layered Lookup Tables (LUTs) , which translates into greater precision in color handling. Also, these tables are now dynamic . In other words, the TV adjusts the colors based on the luminance of the image displayed on the screen.
Panasonic has been insisting for some years that their televisions display the picture as intended by the content creators. To do this, according to the manufacturer, its high-end models have been tuned by Hollywood experts . So, taking this into account, for the tests I have used the picture modes that the television includes, without any modification.
4K HDR image
And now that we know what “inside” this TV, let's see how this translates into image quality. I give you a little spoiler: the image quality that the Panasonic FZ950 achieves is impressive . The photographs don't do it justice.
We have a lot of picture modes available, but I've personally done most of my testing by switching between THX Cinema Day and THX Cinema Night modes . I have also used Cine Real, very similar to THX Cine Noche.
4K HDR image
First, the black level is sublime . It's true that virtually all OLED TVs boast an impressive black level, but Panasonic has taken it a step further. It makes some very dark scenes more defined and the image has a little less noise than in other OLED models.
At the opposite extreme we have the brightness. According to Panasonic, the FZ950 has a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits , a fairly high figure for an OLED TV. The truth is that when viewing images I have not noticed too much difference with OLED televisions from other manufacturers. But it is enough to watch TV in bright conditions.
The commented extended LUT tables are noticeable when working with colors. Panasonic tends to prioritize the truest image over the most striking image, just like Sony does. Thus, the colors shown are pleasant, without excessive saturation, with a very natural tone .
This does, which remains a little spectacular, in the long run it is much better. Something similar to what we see in current mobiles happens. AI systems tend to saturate colors for more impressive images. But we actually have less realistic images, in which elements such as the blue of the sky or the green of the grass show an unreal color. The Panasonic FZ950 opts to display a more realistic image, less saturated, which is appreciated when you use the TV for a long time .
Full HD image from Blu-Ray
Handling of moving images is excellent too. I have not detected any type of failure in fast scenes or sports. On the other hand, we have a completely sharp image , both in 4K movies and in images with Full HD resolution.
The same thing happens that I commented with the color. Panasonic opts for subtlety, with a very good sharpness but without looking excessive, artificial. I have also verified that the television does a great job of scaling with DTT images , with a much cleaner image than seen in other models.
Lastly, no problem with viewing angles . OLED technology once again proves that it is the ideal if we are going to have viewers located in a position very close to the screen. From any angle we will have the same image quality, without loss of saturation or brightness.
Soundbar tuned by Technics
Now let's talk about sound. The Panasonic FZ950 is equipped with a Dynamic Blade soundbar . This has been tuned by Technics, Panasonic's specialist audio branch.
Inside this audio system we have no less than 12 speakers , which allows for great sound. It is a powerful system, offering a dynamic and very well balanced sound. Get clear dialogue in shows and strong bass in movies and series.
It offers several sound modes that try to offer the feeling of being in a surround system. Among them I want to highlight the " Cinema Surround Pro " mode , since it manages to open the sound field and place the effects on the back in a very interesting way. I'm not saying that it can replace a complete 5.1 system, far from it, but it does a great job on a day-to-day basis and for watching movies if we don't want to pull external equipment.
Smart TV with the right apps
Panasonic once again insists, one more year, with the My Home Screen system . This time we come to version 3.0, with a design very similar to that seen in other years.
Let's be honest, it's not the best Smart TV system on the market. But the truth is that, for the vast majority of users, it will be enough. We have access to the 4K and HDR versions of Netflix and Amazon Video, as well as the YouTube app . It also has a web browser and RTVE applications, present in all systems.
For the rest, many applications that, at least in Spain, do not have much value. Personally, I have missed an application for IPTV and the on-demand television options from A3Media and Mediaset.
As for the menus, they have become somewhat out of date . If we click on the Start button, the shortcuts to the most used applications (configurable) appear on the screen. To see the rest of the applications and options we will have to click on the Apps button.
Its design is what we have seen for several years at Panasonic. Large circles arranged in a horizontal line in the quick menu and as if it were a mobile when entering the full menu.
The setup menus, on the other hand, are very comprehensive. Perhaps too much, since seeing so many configuration options can overwhelm less experienced users. But true to form, Panasonic offers us a great setup system for those of us who like to "fiddle" more .
Conclusions and price
We come to the end of the analysis and we have to draw conclusions. I'm going to make it very easy for you: the Panasonic FZ950 is one of the best OLED TVs of 2018 . I cannot say that it is the best, because I have not been able to test the proposals of LG and Sony, but it sure is very close to being it.
We are facing a television with exceptional image quality . A natural, subtle and refined image, but with that extra "punch" expected from OLED televisions. It comes excellently calibrated from the factory and has a Game Mode with a fairly low input lag.
Along with its great image quality, the FZ950 has a soundbar that delivers really good results . Its weak point may be its Smart TV section, but I would not rule out this TV for it. My Home Screen is a simple system, but with which we can access Netflix and Amazon Video, two of the services most demanded by users.
As for the price, we are within the usual in the high range. The 65-inch Panasonic FZ950 that we tested is priced at 3,600 euros . If we want it in 55 inches, its price is 2,300 euros.