Panasonic has bet heavily on OLED technology in its televisions. We tested a few weeks ago the top-of-the-range model, the EZ1000 in 65-inch version. Now we want to see what the second in the ranking offers us, this EZ950, which we will test in 55 inches. A much more manageable size, and at a much more affordable price: 2,500 euros , and it can be found below that. In addition, we already anticipate that it offers an image quality that has nothing to envy its older sister.
It is the best technology for home television sets intended for film buffs. The only possible disadvantage compared to other technologies (LEDs) is the maximum possible brightness. This affects those who watch the TV in a lot of ambient light, for example in a very bright living room during the day. And the eventual retention of images due to wear of the screen substrate. This can affect gamers who use the television a lot with the console and do not take action.
But for everything else, OLED is the winning technology . It reaches levels of brightness that have little to envy already to LEDs (up to about 1,000 nits). Its colors have an extraordinary naturalness and vividness. They are very flat and thin screens that can be viewed from extreme angles without losing colors or contrast. And that, its contrast, is literally infinite, because its blacks are perfect. It is their strong point and what makes them ideal for moviegoers, with dim ambient lighting.
As is well known, the base of these screens comes from LG and also equips Sony, Loewe or Bang & Olufsen. Then each one makes their selection or has their own requirements, and above all each one applies their control electronics. It is the key in these televisions that share the physical screen. Panasonic uses its Studio Color HCX2 processor and has earned a reputation for selling the best home-calibrated televisions on the market. It is something very important that ensures that we are getting the best out of an outstanding screen. And is that a bad adjustment, a wrong calibration, ruin the best screen.
4K UHD and HDR
Those acronyms define this Panasonic in addition to its 55-inch OLED screen. We now have Ultra-HD resolution as usual, that is 4K or 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. With OLED each one of those 8.3 million pixels is an organic diode. It can be turned on and show its color (there is green, red and blue layer) with different intensity, or it can be turned off. That is what gives them the ability to offer such good contrast , as there is no other source of light. And since there is no other "layer" (lighting) they are thinner and look better at an angle. Years ago the fan favorite technology was plasma, now it's OLED. Panasonic had the best plasma screens and now, with its decision for OLED technology, it maintains its policy.
As for HDR, or High Dynamic Range (high dynamic range), it is a standard that concerns brightness. It ensures that the screen will be able to reproduce the images in full brightness and color as the producers left them. Be it a sporting event, a series or a movie, HDR compatibility allows us to see what was recorded at home . The Panasonic EZ950 supports HDR10 standards and the new Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), but not Dolby Vision. It is the only thing that is missing, and in principle it will not arrive even with a firmware update. It is true that it is not yet clear what practical advantage this specification will have (in theory it is better). More on a TV like this so well calibrated at source, but ”¦ if someone wanted something to the last in all aspects, Dolby Vision is not here.
It is not enough to choose a good screen, Panasonic uses its own "tricks" to get the best out of it. The EZ1000 had its own Absolute Black filter that absorbs ambient light (reflections). It also eliminates the magenta hue that affects other OLED displays in high ambient light conditions. The EZ950 does not have it, but you have to look closely to see that magenta tone (we took several photos until we were able to detect it).
Magenta reflection on the EZ950
Panasonic includes its HCX2 Studio Color image processor as discussed earlier. This processor has a 3D "map" of possible adjustments to always get closer to the ideal of "Delta Zero". Ie an ideal calibration gray levels never deviate to any basic color. When this is achieved the contrast and the colors are perfect at any level of brightness. Thanks to the HCX2 processor this television offers reference images that would be useful in a study.
Ideal for advanced hobbyists
But aside from that proprietary processing ability, the Panasonic OLED has tools to allow for a very fine final calibration. The EZ1000 allowed a very advanced user to upload their own calibration mapping to the memory of the HCX2 chip. It is practically unique and shows how Panasonic has thought about advanced users, or professional calibrators. The EZ950 doesn't go as far , but the calibration is still a step beyond any other commercial TV. Hobbyists who even have their own probe, tuning their televisions to the max, will enjoy it.
As for the ability of the Panasonic as a Smart TV, it maintains the My Home Screen system (Firefox OS). You can configure favorites for different users, and a quick access button to a specific application from the remote. This system allows access to 4K HDR content through your media player.
The remote controls are two, metallic, one touch and the other with more buttons. The simplified includes that touch surface and a microphone to accept spoken commands. The other, very complete, is excellent, with backlighting, well organized. A luxury. It is also possible to download a control App on the mobile and use it with the television, and being Bluetooth it is also possible to connect a keyboard or / and mouse.
Connections without fail
The design of the EZ950 is much more ordinary than its sister EZ1000. But maybe we like it better: the EZ1000's single foot has never felt so solid. The EZ950 stands tall with its desktop stand, and its rear chassis seems to let the electronics breathe well. From behind we have access to the connection register , behind a rigid plastic cover subject to pressure. The EZ1000 had practically the same, its design did not remain behind ”¦
In terms of connections , nothing is missing , and they are the same as in the EZ1000. IC card slot for payment, for SD, three USB (one 3.0) and four HDMI (all HDCP 2.2 for 4K). Also the antenna inputs (one of each type), the optical digital output and the plug for the Ethernet network. The TV has WiFi anyway. And finally a proprietary dual jack connection for component AV input or composite video. The adapter cable comes in the box in case we need it (increasingly rare). Two HDMI and USB come out perpendicular, which is a problem for those who hang it on the wall, pay attention to that.
As for the built-in sound, it is less spectacular than on the EZ100 with its signature Technics bar. But we do not miss better sound , really. Assemble four speakers with a 10W stage each, that is to say a total of 40W. And to those four "active" speakers are added four passive radiators that enhance the bass. Everything is mounted at the rear but in practice we will see that it is very satisfactory.
Panasonic 55 EZ950 OLED
|screen||55 inches 4K UHD 3,840 x 2,160 pixels|
|Technology||OLED (LG panel), Panasonic HCX2 processor|
|Sound||Internal DD / DTS decoder, two speakers per channel with 40W total (2x10W + 2x10W)|
|HDMI connections||4 x HDCP 2.2 (1 ARC)|
|Other connectivity||3 USB (1 is 3.0), Ethernet, Wifi, Bluetooth|
|Tuners||DVB-T2 / DVB-C / DVB-S2 (double)|
|Recording||Via USB, disk or exclusive dedicated memory|
|Antennas||Satellite, Cable, Terrestrial. CI 1.3 slot|
|Dimensions||1,230 x 766 x 275 mm (with desktop stand)|
After having tested the spectacular EZ1000, we were afraid that the EZ950 would leave us less impressed. If you have to try two, it is always better to try the highest of the range later ”¦ Well, the truth is that it was not like that. We have already anticipated it when describing it, but really the Panasonic EZ950 seems to us an outstanding television . In some respects, it even sold us more than its more luxurious (and expensive) sister. We can affirm without hesitation from the outset that it is a "best buy" even if it has some less refined aspects.
Let's start with the display of DTT channels in standard resolution. The OLED screen and the Panasonic processing achieved results sincerely unthinkable a short time ago. The best thing is that the view gets used to it quickly and stops perceiving faults, because this screen does not exaggerate them. Only when you switch to an HD channel (even DTT) do you remember that you were seeing images in a resolution much lower than what the television is capable of. And that is another step beyond HD, of course. In DTT HD what does happen sometimes is that the broadcasters fail to maintain the "standard" of homogeneous quality, and that is visible. Connections in the news, mounted images, some advertisements ”¦ when you broadcast in HD, gentlemen, you have to take better care of those things. And when 4K comes as standard, it will be worse.
A UHD TV like this Panasonic is a microscope that does not forgive such failures. But at the same time it emits images so beautiful , with a contrast, color and softness, that you enjoy what they throw at you ”¦ And when you switch to HD“ real ”with Blu-ray, things start to be worthy of being admired.
THX and Professional modes
Without custom calibration, THX pre- calibrated picture modes were our best allies. There are two, for rooms with light or in darkness, and both are very well suited to those uses. And the same happens with the Professional 1 and 2 modes, also preset very correctly. Of course, it is convenient to review brightness and contrast to our environmental conditions, and review the options for improving moving images.
In that Panasonic has also done a great job , we suppose thanks to the famous HCX2 processor. There are several settings to achieve smoother images, without reaching the undesirable “soap opera effect” that causes so much debate. Look for the interpolation, which has several settings, one customizable, and you will see that it is possible to have smooth images without that effect. Some things with others as more time I spent watching the Panasonic was quite close (just over two meters). Even so, I always enjoyed his image without fatigue, on the contrary, I always wanted another chapter, another movie.
We already commented in the Panasonic EZ1000 test that menus and applications were not our favorites. Nothing changes here, because it is the same My Home Screen (Firefox) system. Frankly we think that with the good product that Panasonic has, they should make a leap in usability . The menus are somewhat cumbersome (and slow), and the applications and their use, the same or worse. And it's not a lack of habit, because I use a Panasonic TV every day ”¦ But in the end I preferred to connect a Fire Stick and use it instead of my own system.
I'm sure this has made them lose sales in stores where you can test multiple televisions with the remote control. When you discover how agile other menus move ”… the image has to convince you a lot to choose this TV. What is fast, in another sense, is the "Game" mode. Reduce the lag and console fans will be in for a treat: playing games on that screen , with that answer, is “… great.
The national distributor left us a unit of its excellent Bluray UHD reader, in addition to the televisions. It is one of the leading models on the market , with fast loading of movies. Connected by HDMI, the most advanced mode had to be activated on the television for the player and screen to agree. Thus, we could be calm and the images of the (few) UHD discs that we had would reach us in all their HDR splendor.
Panasonic UBD900 Player
If we had already enjoyed it before, the visual spectacle when taking full advantage of this technology is tremendous. Suddenly it makes sense to go back to see a movie that (we thought) we knew well. New details in scenes, impressive lighting effects ”¦ with a TV like this it's hard not to get hooked.
We tested the exclusive 65-inch Panasonic EZ1000 and it left a very good taste in our mouths. But this EZ950 has left us even more impressed . In addition to a much lower starting price, it is currently on the market at really interesting prices. The sound it offers is perfectly valid for everyday life (programs, news or sports). And if we want more, his is to set up a separate system, which is what many fans already have.
The aesthetic is very discreet but elegant, we do not see it out of place anywhere. Even their support gives us more confidence ”¦ The menus or the application system do not convince us so much, to see if Panasonic gives a change. But it is the closest thing to having a professional monitor calibrated at home. Excellent color and contrast images: that is what a reference television has to offer us above all, right? Highly recommended .