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Review: Panasonic LZ2000 OLED

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We have reviewed several Panasonic flagship TVs in the past and here is the 2022 LZ2000 flagship to challenge our current reference TV, Sony A95K. LZ2000 comes with an improved Dolby Atmos speaker system and the customized Master OLED Pro panel, now with OLED EX, that Panasonic first introduced a couple of years ago. It now finally exists in 77 inches.

We have tested the 65 inch version.

 Also read: Panasonic 2022 TV line-up


Price and retailers:

UK retailer
DE retailer

First impressions

Aesthetically, Panasonic's flagship TV is characterized mainly by its speaker system that Panasonic has put extra effort into as compared to most direct competitors. This year, the more substantial cabinet that makes up LZ2000 houses both an upward-firing speaker module and two additional side speakers placed on each side of the TV with the goal of delivering a fuller Dolby Atmos experience. The speaker at the bottom of the TV calls up fond memories of my retired Pioneer LX5090, and overall LZ2000 is designed to be a more complete TV/AV package.

Panasonic LZ2000 review

Panasonic LZ2000 in front of my Sony A9F

The additional speakers naturally take up some volume, meaning that the TV is relatively thick compared to most other OLED TVs. On the other hand most OLED TVs are equipped with an electronics box at the lower half which makes it impossible to mount them flush to the wall anyway. In essence Panasonic has just extended the electronics box to cover to full back of the TV.
Panasonic LZ2000 review
All ports on the back of the TV face the right way and can be hidden behind a cover plate, which results in a more stylish appearance if the screen is to be left free-standing in the room. The 55 and 65" models come with a center-aligned swivel stand whereas the 77" model cannot be rotated. The stand is easy to mount, unlike many other OLED TVs. There is always a certain level of tension involved with setting up a new OLED TV, as it can be quite the challenge to mount the feet or stand. While not a specific critique of the LZ2000, I do miss solutions where the feet snap into place with magnets and only require a screw to secure them. There have been only a few TVs where the design has struck me as particularly well-thought-out. That being said, the stand of the LZ2000 works fine and the TV is stable. If you prefer to have a soundbar underneath the TV and do not plan to use the TV's built-in speaker system, a Sonos Arc soundbar can be placed in front of LZ2000 without obstructing the view. However, in that case, it might be worth considering the LZ1500 model instead and saving the cost of the Atmos speakers in the LZ2000 series, as LZ1500 comes with the same 'Master OLED Pro with Luminance Booster' panel (OLED EX with a heatsink) except in 42 and 48 inches. Be aware that LZ1500 does not exist in 77 inches.

Panasonic LZ2000 review

User experience & features

While Android has been implemented in more of Panasonic's TV models, the high-end models still rely on the company's in-house Smart TV platform called My Home Screen. The updates to this system are mostly limited to the addition of new apps, but even these changes can be hard to discern from one year to the next.
"Old, familiar"
HBO Max is still not available on this TV, so you will need to connect an external device such as Apple TV 4K or a Chromecast with Google TV to access all of your streaming services. In our region, multiple local apps are also missing so be sure to check before you buy. Unfortunately, it is not possible either to stream directly to the TV using either AirPlay 2 or Chromecast. The apps that are available on the TV do not have particularly fast loading times, and for a 2022 model the smart system feels inadequate if you primary source is streaming. In My Home Screen's defence we want to highlight that, in our opinion, the user interface that lets you have app icons at the bottom of the screen rather than a full-screen interface is more functional and approachable on a TV screen. The full-screen interface that have crept into many Smart TVs in recent years seem to be mostly a way to sneak in more room for ads and "recommendations" from partners. For example, both LG and Samsung have recently switched to a fullscreen user interface (with more ads). For returning Panasonic customers, the rest of the user interface will feel familiar, as it looks largely the same as before. We sometimes jokingly say that Panasonic customers with a 10-year-old TV can still navigate a 2022 TV, which we know appeals to some buyers. There are many ways to adjust and tweak things, and perhaps a few too many outside of the advanced menus. While Panasonic's TV user interface (the non-'smart TV' part) is not worse than those of other brands, it is not particularly innovative either. Other TVs feel chaotic in their own way and no company has cracked the code to simplifying things after decades of adding additional picture and audio settings – some of which no longer apply to digital sources. Some TV makers seem to simply have hired a younger graphics designer. Overall, Panasonic's menu systems are functional and reliable, similar to the menu system on a Nokia 3210, but once you have used a smartphone, you may feel that something is missing. As one of the few TV makers on the market aside from Loewe, Panasonic places a lot of emphasis on the TV channel tuner experience. There are various options for getting a TV signal into the TV depending on your location. In addition to the standard DVB signals (DVB-S, DVB-T, and DVB-C) with 2x CI extensions, LZ2000 also supports IP-TV and some recent extensions to DVB. During our testing, we only had access to DVB-T2 but the TV guide and overall navigation of TV channels is clearly a facet that the user interface was originally designed for. It works well and we have no complaints in this regard. During testing, the TV worked well with a Sonos Arc soundbar and an Apple TV 4K box. The TV and soundbar remained connected throughout over HDMI eARC without dropouts. This is somewhat unusual, as it is not always the case with other TVs.

Operation

Panasonic has phased out the metal version of its remote control, previously exclusive to the 2000 series, and replaced it with the same version that came with the JZ1500 last year. While the weight, build quality, and button tactility are all satisfactory, there are still far too many buttons on the remote control. It is a mess. For example, the "back" and "exit" buttons have different functions depending on where you find yourself in the user interface. 

Panasonic LZ2000 test

The remote control has 5 sponsored buttons for popular streaming services, as well as a shortcut button to access the app section. However, you must look for the user-configurable 'MyApp' button elsewhere as it has been placed next to the 'Back' button. It is another clear example of why a UX designer needs to sit down with a UI designer to improve and modernize the user experience of both the hardware and software on modern Panasonic TV. Too many things have been added over the years without revising what is already there. While the remote control communicates with the TV via Bluetooth so you don't need to point the remote at the TV, the TV still requires an IR (infrared) signal to turn on. So you still need to aim the remote control directly at the TV sometimes. To control the TV with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, you can use an external smart speaker or the 'Microphone' icon on the remote control to activate Google Assistant. It is somewhat difficult to fully control the TV with voice commands, so it is likely that the on/off commands are most useful here, and primarily through external smart speakers so you can turn off the TV while doing something else.

TV audio

In terms of sound, as mentioned earlier, LZ2000 has been equipped with additional side-firing speaker units in its '360 Soundscape Pro' system from Technics. These units are located at the edges of the panel on the right and left sides and help to expand the soundstage. The effect is quite good and helps take better advantage of the potential in a good Dolby Atmos source. Along with the up-firing module, LZ2000 approaches the performance of some of the cheaper Dolby Atmos soundbars available today. The main drawback remains the slightly muddy midrange and lack of bass. The latter can be addressed by connecting an active subwoofer to the dedicated port on LZ2000 (and some other Panasonics TV models), and I would recommend doing so if you are planning to use only the TV's speaker system in your living room. It is a shame that Panasonic doesn't offer an optional set of wireless rear speakers that can be paired to its TVs. It would have been a nice addition if there was a package with a subwoofer and rear speakers to complement LZ2000's built-in speakers.
During the test, we connected a Sonos Arc soundbar to test HDMI eARC and while it is not one of the best-performing and most potent soundbars on the market, it unfortunately surpasses the speaker system in LZ2000. Therefore, our recommendation would be to carefully consider your sound preferences before choosing Panasonic LZ2000 solely based on its audio capabilities, as you pay a high premium for it as compared to other OLED TVs.

Calibration

When it comes to high-end TVs, it's always exciting to start a calibration session to see how little adjustment is needed to get accurate results. Calibrating an OLED TV is generally straightforward and easy, as most OLED TVs hit fairly close to the target values in at least one of the pre-calibrated picture modes. On Panasonic LZ2000, several picture models are spot-on for SDR. 'Filmmaker Mode' and 'Professional 2' are largely identical in terms of color accuracy whereas 'Professional 1' is optimized for viewing in a brighter room. All three picture modes are so close to the reference that you don't really need to make any adjustments. While the first two picture modes aim for the BT.1886 gamma reference (dark room), 'Professional 1' targets gamma 2.2 which is better suited for bright rooms. Demonstratively, I adjusted down the blue primary color by one notch to get below a dE of 1, but this is really an unnecessary adjustment. All you need to do as a buyer is to set LZ2000 to 'Professional 1', turn off sharpness enhancement and the ambient light sensor, and you will have more or less reference picture quality. You could also simply adjust the 'gamma' setting in the dark end to straighten the gamma curve completely. The same trend is observed when switching to HDR10, where 'Professional 1' also delivers close to perfect accuracy within WOLED's confined luminance and color range. Additionally, since you can enable game mode on all picture modes, you don't need to worry about calibrating the 'Game' mode. The TV's low latency processing is automatically enabled on the picture mode when you start a game on a console or PC that supports HDMI 2.1 ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). With Dolby Vision, you should use the 'Dolby Vision Dark' mode if you don't want the TV to adjust the picture dynamically (Dolby Vision IQ) to the lighting conditions in your living room. There are still far too many picture modes to choose from, but if you just remember 'Professional 1' and check our calibration settings in the table below, you can ignore the rest. If you need to switch between picture modes, Panasonic has put a shortcut button on the remote control that can be programmed to your favorite picture modes. This is practical if you want to manually switch between day and night picture modes. In its calibrated state, LZ2000 reaches a stable 1000 nits in HDR, as expected based on last year's model. The accuracy of the EOTF luminance curve is exemplary up until near the panel's peak luminance capability. The color gamut is as you would expect from a WOLED panel at 99% of DCI-P3 and 72% of Rec.2020, but on the other hand significantly – and visibly – smaller than the Rec.2020 coverage of the QD-OLED panel found in the Sony A95K and Samsung S95B.

Measurements

In our "measurements" section we include all measurements and our suggested calibration settings. If you want to learn more about our test methodology click here. Note: Starting in 2021, we implemented a new method for measurement of average power consumption in SDR and HDR, meaning that earlier measurements are not 1:1 comparable. Power consumption in 'Calibrated' SDR mode is measured with the screen to approx. 100-110 nits to normalize the measurement across TV models (our recommended calibrated picture settings may differ). The new method will be used in all TV reviews going forward. Note: We include calibration settings only for SDR, not HDR. For our calibration we have deactivated the ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight setting according to your environment. You may prefer to have it enabled.
Panasonic LZ2000 test

Picture quality

In our earlier reviews, Panasonic's customized 'Master' OLED panel has consistently delivered 1000 nits peak brightness for HDR and has also shown good resistance against static images. LZ2000 is no exception, and as the graphs in the calibration section conform, the TV's calibrated picture mode peaks at 1000 nits – even higher if you use 'Dynamic' mode where we measured 1200 nits. However, 1200 nits can only be maintained for a very short time and it was not easy to measure continuously, so stable HDR peak performance lies around 1000. The transition from black to white is also excellent, as long as you stick to the calibrated modes, which in HDR10 is either 'Filmmaker Mode' or 'Professional'. The light output is impressive and only QD-OLED TVs can deliver the same HDR performance. The default setting for Dolby Vision content is the IQ profile, but the picture is unfortunately too dynamic; adjusted based on factors such as the lighting conditions in your viewing environment. Our recommendation is to switch to 'Dolby Vision Dark' profile to take back control. If we look at the coverage of the Rec.2020 color gamut, which is what the HDR standards are based on, the weakness of the WOLED panel type is still that the extra white sub-pixel, which helps to boost peak brightness, also washes out the colors at higher luminance levels. WOLED with its color filters simply cannot deliver the same intensity in primary and secondary colors as the QD-OLED panel. Panasonic LZ2000 is easily one of the HDR "kings" – but only among WOLED panels. The ability to maintain high brightness also drops significantly as the proportion of the screen that is illuminated increases. At 100% coverage (full screen) with pure white, brightness drops to around 170 nits, which is not higher than on last year's model.

Panasonic LZ2000 test

When it comes to SDR content, LZ2000's bright panel allows for good brightness levels. It's worth noting that HDR content is encoded based on absolute brightness levels, while SDR content allows for more flexibility in terms of adjusting the brightness to your liking as it is coded to a relative brightness scale. This can be particularly useful when watching TV in a room with bright surroundings, such as during the Tour de France. In terms of SDR content, this legacy video format environment is dominated by HD or even SD content that must be scaled up to the display's 4K resolution to be shown in full screen. In this area, Panasonic has consistently performed well with their video processor being among the best on the market. During testing, there was plenty of "low-resolution" material to evaluate, including World Cup matches and Christmas shows. Despite the challenges, the LZ2000 performed well regardless of the source material but it obviously cannot perform miracles and make SD content look like 4K – or anything close. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Panasonic's 'Intelligent Frame Creation' (IFC) motion system, which aims to smooth out video shot at a low frame rate. On IFC's lowest setting, the system works but we prefer to turn it off and let the TV match the frame rate of the source material. This can come at the cost of motion clarity and the often frustrating stroboscopic effect that can occur especially in bright scenes in low frame rate content, for example 24fps movies and series. While Panasonic cannot be blamed for the limitations of the "sample-and-hold" WOLED panel and the low frame rate that it still used in Hollywood and elsewhere, a more effective IFC system could have provided some flexibility to the user. For example, some competitors have a low setting that reduces the stroboscopic effect without inducing the 'soap opera' effect.
Panasonic LZ2000 test
In my opinion, there have been several great game releases in 2022 and some of the console games that I currently play natively support VRR. During my 3 weeks with the TV, Panasonic LZ2000 proved that it is a great TV for playing the latest games. LZ2000 has a game mode that can be activated on top of the other picture modes, allowing for a perfect calibration to be transferred to, for example, the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X gaming experience. In addition, HDMI ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) also ensures that the input lag is low. For 4K HDR, we measured it to 14 ms. While we were unable to measure input lag in VRR mode on the LZ2000, we expect it to be even lower in this mode. I did not have time to complete Horizon Forbidden West during the review period, but I was able to enjoy the TV's impressive VRR, color reproduction, and HDR performance, which is almost uncompromised during gaming unlike LCD TV's that scale down their local dimming systems to avoid excessive input lag. "Almost" because like all other WOLED-based TVs, VRR can cause raised blacks and flicker in some game sequences. Compared to my own Sony A9F, the combination of these systems in practice means that LZ2000 delivers a markedly improved visual experience that makes it difficult for me to say goodbye and return to the pre-HDMI 2.1 era for console gaming. Unfortunately, the homogeneity of the WOLED panel was a disappointment in darker shades. During our testing, we noticed a slight dark stain on the left side of the screen (the spot in the right side is just a mirror image of me that comes into view due to the camera's long exposure time). It's important to note that the model you purchase may vary as panel variations are not uncommon. In our Sony A95K QD-OLED review, we observed improved OLED panel homogeneity but it is still too early to conclude that QD-OLED consistently delivers better homogeneity than WOLED due to panel variation. We will check again next year.
Panasonic LZ2000 appears to be particularly resistant to retention, which may also indicate that it is less prone to burn-in in the long term. We attribute this to cooling profile, or heatsink, on the back of the TV, which effectively dissipates heat away from the panel. In general, the LZ2000 is similar to Panasonic's top models from previous years, which means that upgrading to the latest model is not necessary if you already own a 2000 series or similar from a previous year. It also means that the considerations and praise from our previous reviews still apply.

Conclusion

Panasonic's LZ2000 has only a few notable updates from previous models in the 2000 series, such as the addition of extra side-firing sound channels in its Dolby Atmos speaker system located on the sides of the TV. Overall, the innovations for this year's model are minimal.
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In terms of picture quality, LZ2000 is a top contender among WOLED TVs, competing with models such as the Sony A90J and the LG G2. However, the launch of QD-OLED TVs from Sony and Samsung has added an extra layer of competition, with these models offering slightly higher brightness in primary colors. Ultimately, it is difficult to determine a clear winner among these TVs but in our opinion Sony's A95K QD-OLED has a slight edge overall. While LZ2000 excels in pictures quality, it falls short in terms of available apps and 'smart' features. We recommend pairing the TV with an external streaming device such as Chromecast with Google TV or Apple TV 4K to get a wider selection of apps and an overall better streaming experience. In other areas such as the tuner and general menu sections LZ2000 performs well and is stable in operation. Panasonic LZ2000 is a good choice for those who want a top-notch picture, but don't want to invest in extensive external sound. However, while the built-in speakers are better than average you may want to consider adding a small active subwoofer, which can be connected directly to LZ2000, to get the most out of the audio.
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Change in test parameters: In 2018, we made a change to a test parameter that relates to the features score, following years of poor practice in the TV industry. Unless a manufacturer of a given "Smart TV" can provide FlatpanelsHD with assurance that the TV platform will be updated to the next major version, the feature score will be lowered by 10 points. We hope that our initiative can help highlight the problem, start a discussion, and change the practice.

Panasonic has not been able to give us such a guarantee for My Home Screen.

Price and retailers:

UK retailer
DE retailer

Color accuracy & processing
Perfect black
Viewing angles
HDR capabilities & 1000 nits
HDMI 2.1 & eARC


MyHomeScreen not receiving updates
TV/media menus outdated
IFC system not on par with Sony's






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