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Review: Panasonic MZ2000 (MLA OLED)

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A bit late in 2023, we finally received Panasonic's latest flagship, MZ2000, which takes over the torch from the 2022 LZ2000 that we reviewed earlier. MZ2000 again boasts a potent sound system and this year it features LG's OLED panel with MLA (Micro Lens Array) technology, providing higher brightness than in the past.

Panasonic MZ2000 comes in 55, 65, and 77-inch. We have tested the 65-inch version. Be aware that the 77-inch version does not feature the brighter MLA OLED panel.

 Also read: Panasonic 2023 TV line-up


Price and retailers:

UK retailer
DE retailer

First impressions

For those of you who have never unboxed a Panasonic TV before, they come in impressively large boxes that could easily accommodate a model size larger. Upon unpacking, I had to double-check that it was indeed an MZ2000 because the TV looks identical to LZ2000 on the outside, which is not necessarily a bad thing – the TV looks decent enough – but it has not required much to get MZ2000 ready for the market. The defining feature of Panasonic's 2000 series remains the sound system, which houses both a potent speaker beneath the TV, top channel, and two side-firing channels for Dolby Atmos. The latter two were an addition we first encountered on LZ2000 from 2022. The stand is placed in the middle of the screen, allowing the TV to be rotated slightly to each side (55" and 65" only). The central placement also allows the TV to be placed on a relatively narrow piece of furniture. Unlike many competitors, mounting the stand is an easy task (for 2 people) and does not require the TV to be laid down in the process.
The flip side is, of course, that good sound takes up space, and MZ2000 is therefore not exactly the thinnest TV on the market. On the other hand, many competitors still have a bulge at the bottom of the TV, which essentially makes the TV slim at the top only and makes it impossible to mount the OLED panel flush to the wall. The exception is some of the latest high-end design models from LG and Samsung, which, however, have to make sacrifices on sound. Philips and Sony land somewhere in-between with OLED908 and A95L, respectively. On the back, you will find correctly oriented HDMI ports, including two HDMI 2.1 ports with 4K 120 Hz HDR and VRR support, and two less equipped HDMI ports, limited to 4K up to 60 Hz. Unfortunately, one of the two HDMI 2.1 ports is reserved for eARC, so if you want external audio connected, it will cost you one of the HDMI 2.1 ports. With the current line-up, you cannot find the MLA OLED panel in models other than the 2000 series. If you step down to MZ1500, you still get the speaker at the bottom, but not the Atmos units at the top and side. As a note on the tested unit, it should be mentioned that we noticed a whining tone coming from the back of the TV, audible within a few meters if the sound level from the movie/content was low. It may be specific to our sample. We have not noticed it with previous samples.

Panasonic MZ2000 review

User experience & features

MZ2000 is built on MyHomeScreen, but as announced at CES 2024, Panasonic will switch to FireTV with this year's new flagship. As such, Panasonic has seemingly opted for choice offering both Google TV and FireTV, making the MyHomeScreen models seem somewhat dated. We have looked at MyHomeScreen several times before, and there is nothing new to report. Several apps are still missing – including HBO Max and many regional or local apps – making it very difficult to recommend Panasonic to buyers without access to a media box like Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, or Nvidia Shield. I refer to our review of LZ2000 for a closer look at MyHomeScreen. There is really nothing new of substance to report in MZ2000 compared to LZ2000. We are looking forward to getting our hands on a sample with FireTV later this year – it is just unfortunate that we have had to wait so long and that Panasonic has kept an outdated smart platform alive for so long.

Operation

MZ2000 comes bundles with Panasonic's plastic remote control – the same remote from LZ2000 and JZ1500. It fits nicely in the hand, has comfortable keys, but there are simply too many buttons. I am not normally an advocate for backlit keys, but on Panasonic's cluttered remote, it would actually be useful to have some light when navigating the many small (and ambiguous) buttons in the dark.

Panasonic MZ2000 review

We must be cautious not to draw hasty conclusions, but during the demonstration of FireTV, Panasonic unfortunately still used this clunky remote, so one could fear that the arrival of a new, more "lean" operating system does not extend all the way to the physical link of the user experience, namely the remote control.

TV audio

Normally, when I test TVs at home, the TV's own speakers get a chance to show their worth for a week or so, after which they have to make way for my soundbar, Sonos Arc. In many cases, even our kids complain about poor sound from the tested TVs, so it usually does not take a trained ear to hear what one is missing out on. With MZ2000, I chose to keep my soundbar on standby most of the time and only connected it to get a reference frame and test MZ2000's eARC port.
As with LZ2000, MZ2000 has a fair number of Dolby Atmos speaker units built into the frame, and unlike a soundbar, Panasonic's Atmos units may even have a slight advantage in terms of the height channel, which is located at the top of the TV rather than being integrated with the other units in the soundbar. The most convincing Atmos aspect with MZ2000 are the side-firing units that provided quite a nice effect. They contribute to a widened soundstage and an overall better effect. The top channel is always problematic, and here you do not get quite as much effect, but it is still enough to lift the sound upwards to help fill the room, although "overhead" sound is mostly absent. If you are considering buying a TV and adding a mid-range soundbar, then MZ2000 may actually match or exceed it in terms of clarity and especially Dolby Atmos. Where it might fall short is in bass, where the lack of a dedicated subwoofer comes into play. Fortunately, MZ2000 supports wired external active subwoofers. In contrast to the soundbar + subwoofer bundles, MZ2000 lets you connect any conventional soundbar that fits your living room – as such it is not tied to whatever a manufacturer deems worthy. This lets you explore the market for used subwoofers, too, so overall I think Panasonic has taken a nice approach here. I will, however, reiterate my complaint from earlier models and appeal to Panasonic to add support for dedicated rear channels – preferably wireless. Adding rear speakers would really enhance the experience, and other some audio manufacturers already offer such wireless solutions. This would make Panasonic's flagship TV one of the few (besides B&O) where we could refrain from recommending external sound.

Calibration

As before, Panasonic's 2000 series is one of the most accurately calibrated displays you can buy, and there is hardly any need to adjust the TV to achieve accurate pictures. However, finding the picture mode that delivers the best picture can be a jungle, if you do not have experience with Panasonic TVs or the measurement equipment required. There are simply too many picture modes to choose from, so many that it can feel overwhelming. Professional 2 and Filmmaker Mode are intended for dark rooms, whereas Professional 1 is optimized for bright rooms. Use one of these if you are in doubt. What is new in MZ2000 compared to the predecessor LZ2000 is the use of LG Display's MLA OLED panel, which significantly boosts brightness for HDR use. We have previously tested LG G3 and briefly had access to Philips’ OLED908, and both hit brightness levels over 1500 nits calibrated. In calibrated mode, MZ2000 also hits around 1500 nits, which is 50% higher than LZ2000 – an impressive improvement. It is definitely a visible difference compared to older WOLED panels, but still only on par with our new reference from Sony, so even though the MLA OLED panel has improved, it is only barely keeping up with QD-OLED. If you switch to one of the more aggressive picture mode, such as Dynamic, MZ2000 can reach a peak of up to 2000 nits – albeit only up to a 2% window, after which it tapers off. Another area where WOLED cannot keep up with QD-OLED is in color gamut, which is hindered by the fact that the white subpixel on WOLED dilutes the RGB colors at high brightness levels. QD-OLED does not suffer from this limitation. As a result, WOLED will not be able to deliver as saturated colors in HDR highlights, which will be noticeable to most people in an A/B comparison.

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. 100-120 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.

Picture quality

In the calibration section, I revealed that MZ2000 hits significantly higher peak brightness for HDR content compared to its predecessor, confirming the performance of the MLA OLED panel. In full-screen, white brightness hits 220 nits, again considerably higher than before. Full-screen brightness will be evident with both SDR and HDR content, as the ability to deliver high brightness on a full screen also affects how much light the screen can emit overall. In other words, MZ2000 will be a better screen for brightly lit living rooms than LZ2000 and other OLED TVs of the past. MLA OLED technology involves billions of tiny micro-lenses distributed in a layer in the panel. Under typical living room conditions, one will not notice the change. However, the addition of these lenses alters how the TV panel behaves when hit with sharp light from outside. In sunlit environment, the front tends to get a rainbow effect, as seen in the pictures below. My own Sony A9F OLED is seen in the background as the black surface for reference, where the MLA OLED panel's many lenses give Panasonic MZ2000 a sparkly colorful surface. Viewing the TV with sunlight directly on the screen is discouraged regardless, but if you have not seen the effect of MLA before, you might be surprised. It also sometimes interfered with me photographing the TV as the flash can create a purple spot when it gets reflected in the microlenses.
As discussed in the calibration section, a Panasonic's flagship TV is still a guarantee of extremely accurate colors. There is almost no need to adjust anything to achieve reference color accuracy. As can be seen, I have not corrected the darkest end of the EOTF light curve for HDR, but it can easily be done by adjusting settings. Looking at the graph, the darkest tones come out a bit too dark – the gray curve is below the yellow reference line – which suggests there is a slight crush of the dark details. However, it was not observed as actual black crush with real content in the way that we have observed black crush with previous OLED TVs, and it is certainly not something that should deter you from buying MZ2000.

Panasonic MZ2000 review

In my test collection, there are some TV series that exhibit noticeable banding, that we would like TVs to be able to smooth out. This issue has been a point of critique with previous TVs. The flagship models nowadays hardly show any banding when all image processing is disabled. However, when dealing with a murky, dimly lit, and somewhat compressed streaming series, limitations in the video processor can become apparent. My Sony A9F excels in handling such content (Sony A95L being even better), serving as a benchmark during testing. Surprisingly, MZ2000 almost matches the performance of this former reference Sony, with only minor issues being "almost invisible." These slight issues manifest as faint streaks on smooth gradients, particularly in the transition from white to black. Generally, this will not pose a problem, and most users will not notice it during everyday use. The same applies if you were to play content that is not produced in 4K, as MZ2000 is formidable at upscaling content and making the most of older content or the streaming services that have not managed to deliver content in 4K. There is not much content left that uses interlaced signals, so the TV's ability to deinterlace is no longer a parameter to judge by. However, motion handling is still a point of concern, as we are many years away from all new content being produced at high frame rates. Sometimes a mild degree of motion smoothing may be desired to counter the stroboscopic effect caused by 24fps, especially in bright scenes and especially on OLED TVs. Panasonic's handling of this has not really changed over the past few years. The company's IFC system (Intelligent Frame Creation) can be activated at the lowest level if necessary, but unfortunately, my experience is that it still lags behind especially Sony and LG in the area, and as before I ended up turning it off completely on MZ2000.
Panasonic MZ2000 review
MZ2000 features only two HDMI 2.1 ports with support for 4K 120 Hz VRR, and if you have a soundbar connected via eARC, you are down to one port. There is support for ALLM. The normal game mode is not accurate but Panasonic has an alternative game mode (True Game) with accurate colors. Dolby Vision – with Xbox Series X – is limited to maximum 4K 60Hz. Input lag in game mode remains the same as before, around 14 ms with 60Hz input, but we still cannot measure it in VRR mode. It should be closer to 10 ms with VRR enabled. The panel uniformity of our MZ2000 sample proved to be quite good. While we encountered some issues with last year's model, as mentioned earlier, homogeneity often depends on the specific sample – not the TV model or brand. In the early days of OLED models, you could occasionally end up with color casts and significant problems with dark color fields, but it has been several years since we have come across glaring examples of screen uniformity issues, making it less of a critical factor to consider today. As mentioned earlier, you may however notice that bright light sources can reflect as colored light in the micro lenses of the OLED panel.
MZ2000 employs the same type of heatsink on the back, effectively dissipating heat away from the OLED panel itself and potentially extending lifespan. Heat is the main concern for OLED pixel longevity, especially with static content, as it accelerates the aging process and may lead to burn-in. Fortunately, during our testing, we did not encounter any significant issues, even after long use of test patterns for calibration. Investing in an OLED TV with an effective heatsink behind the panel may therefore be a wise decision.

Conclusion

If you have reached the conclusion, you might be thinking, "that was a relatively concise review compared to other FlatpanelsHD reviews", and I would agree with you. MZ2000 is largely just an upgraded MLA OLED panel (only 55 and 65") housed in the same cabinet as its predecessor LZ2000, which we have already reviewed. The user interface has not really seen any updates for several years either. So there is no need to repeat everything. However, the few changes are not necessarily a bad thing, because why fix what is not broken? With Panasonic's announcement at CES that they will be transitioning from MyHomeScreen to FireTV starting in 2024, we think it is a given that MZ2000 will eventually require a Google TV dongle or an Apple TV 4K. If that is acceptable to you, we have no reservations regarding recommending MZ2000, as you get sublime picture quality, the simplest TV interface available today, and some of the integrated speakers in a TV, except for Bang & Olufsen TVs. The current market price of MZ2000 is still lower than our reference model, Sony A95L – at least in our part of the world – but higher than the price of LG G3, which features the same MLA OLED panel. LG's model also features better motion compensation, so the speakers system should weigh heavily for the choice to naturally fall on MZ2000.
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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 & video processor
Good integrated speaker system
Wide viewing angles
HDR picture quality, peak brightness
HDMI 2.1 & eARC


MyHomeScreen not receiving updates
Will be replaced by FireTV in next flagship
IFC system not on par with Sony & LG's




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