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First look: Panasonic's 2023 TVs including MLA OLED, miniLED LCD

12 Jul 2023 | Rasmus Larsen |

Panasonic's flagship OLED TV with MLA technology deliver a significant boost in brightness while the company's miniLED LCD are more of a mixed bag. Here is what FlatpanelsHD saw.

At a recent event in Berlin, FlatpanelsHD had a chance to see Panasonic's full TV line-up for 2023. There are four new OLED TV ranges and multiple new LCD ranges including Panasonic's first miniLED model MX950.

Panasonic will use multiple TV operating systems in both OLED and LCDs this year including Google TV and MyHomeScreen, and FireTV in one LCD range. As for new features and the different models we refer to our previous articles from the time of unveiling while we in this article report our first impressions after seeing the new TVs.

MLA OLED looks great

We have already reviewed the first OLED TV with MLA (Micro Lens Array) technology, LG G3, so it is not surprising to see Panasonic's first OLED with MLA deliver a similar boost in brightness. This improvement was clear just by looking at the new TVs that were lined up, all showing the same HDR content. With HDR content, brightness peaks in the picture are higher and bright colors more intense for an overall larger color volume. For example, in one demonstration orange sparkled with more realistic intensity in the front headlights of a car while nature scenes looked better overall due to brighter blues in the sky and greener leaves and grass in daytime scenes.

Panasonic 2023 OLED

Spot the MLA OLED. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

There is no doubt that MLA represents a significant step forward for WOLED, which Panasonic will continue to use exclusively in 2023 rather than adding QD-OLED to the mix. What is surprising, however, is that the MLA panel will not be utilized in Panasonic's 77-inch MZ2000 which appears to essentially be a LZ2000 from 2022 with updated software. Only the 55 and 65-inch MZ2000 will feature MLA technology. You may be able to see the differences (MLA OLED bottom, 77" top) in this video but I would add that the differences in peak brightness and color saturation at high luminance were even more pronounced when standing in front of the TVs.
Based on what we have seen so far, we expect Panasonic MZ2000 (in 55 and 65 inches) to once again be one of the top-performing TVs this year. As for the other OLED models, MZ1500 has the modified brighter OLED EX panel that was used in last year's flagship models while MZ980 has a regular OLED EX panel. We did not spend much time with these models as we do not expect major change in picture quality. The 55 and 65-inch MZ1500 and MZ2000 have a swivel stand. Here is a short video introduction from Panasonic to the 2023 OLED line-up.

MiniLED looks fine but...

Panasonic took the opportunity to compare its first miniLED LCD TV, MX950, to an edge LED LCD TV, so naturally it looked better. MX950 uses miniLED zone dimming to improve blacks, peak brightness, and brightness control. Panasonic would not confirm how many dimming zones it has other than saying that the number is "similar to competitors". Based on what we could see from the short demonstration, it was not a lot but definitely more than a standard zone dimming LCD TV. MX950 looked fine but I was not too impressed with picture quality due to visible blooming, crushed shadow details and poor viewing angles, and in my opinion it would be a mistake to consider it a direct successor to DX900 from 2016 – the same year that gave us Sony's Z9D.

Panasonic miniLED LCD

Panasonic miniLED LCD (left) and edge LED LCD (right). Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Panasonic miniLED LCD

Panasonic miniLED LCD (left) and edge LED LCD (right). Photo: FlatpanelsHD

The problem with many of these "average" miniLED LCD TVs is that while they are better than regular LCD TVs, they do not match similarly priced or cheaper OLED TVs in terms of picture quality. For example, Panasonic's MZ980 OLED looked way better. Both MX950 and the MX940 that is a non-miniLED extension into smaller screen sizes have 100/120Hz LCD panels with HDMI 2.1 inputs while the other LCD ranges are 50/60Hz panels without HDMI 2.1. What is more interesting here is the choice(s) of TV platform.

Panasonic 2023 LCD

Panasonic's 2023 LCD TV line-up. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

MyHomeScreen, Google TV and FireTV

The new high-end OLED and LCD models run MyHomeScreen 8.0, which is Panasonic's own platform – an evolution of Firefox OS. It has most apps but not all apps. Many local apps are missing. In the mid-range you have the choice between Google TV and Amazon's FireTV, or Fire OS if you will. Panasonic did not provide a clear answer as to why it uses a total of four TV platforms (linux in the cheapest models) but it likely has to do with the fact that Panasonic is no longer assembling its own TV models. Instead, it now has multiple assembly partners. The Google TV models are a natural extension of Panasonic's earlier Android TVs while FireTV is new territory for Panasonic. MX800 is, as far as we are aware, the first 85-inch FireTV on the market. Unlike most other FireTV models, Panasonic MX800 comes with a custom remote control. Here is what you can expect:

Diablo IV partner

Panasonic's 2023 TVs are still limited to two HDMI 2.1 ports and since the company has not yet moved to the MediaTek Pentonic 1000 chip Dolby Vision gaming is limited to maximum 4K 60Hz. Other than that Panasonic supports all of the relevant gaming features including 4K 120Hz input, HDMI 2.1 VRR, AMD FreeSync, Nvidia G-Sync Compatible, and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). It also has a 'Game Control Board' menu with convenient access to gaming features and further reduced input lag, according to the company (we did not see a measurement).

Panasonic 2023 OLED

Panasonic's new 'Game Control Board' menu on the MZ980. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

I should add that Panasonic's 2023 models still have the ability to power on over HDMI even when CEC is not supported by the host device, typically a PC. Panasonic put a lot of emphasis on gaming at the launch event and even announced a partnership with Blizzard to become the official TV partner for Diablo IV. It positioned the MZ980 OLED as its value-for-money gaming TV with excellent picture quality. If you are curious, here is what Panasonic had to say on the matter:

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