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Panasonic TX-55HZ2000b review: We’re glued to this ultra thin 4K OLED screen

With a filmmaker mode and picture quality that beats the rest of the market, it’s a cinephile’s dream

David Phelan
Tuesday 20 July 2021 12:51
<p>With the HCX pro image processor, you can get exceptionally faithful colours in everything you watch, from ‘Loki’ to ‘Love Island’</p>

With the HCX pro image processor, you can get exceptionally faithful colours in everything you watch, from ‘Loki’ to ‘Love Island’

The Panasonic TX-55HZ2000b is a superb OLED TV with an immaculate picture, features for movie fans and powerful sound.

Unlike regular LCD LED TVs, the great thing about OLED TVs is that each pixel is individually lit. A regular LED TV often has just one backlight across the whole screen, or sometimes a handful of backlights, which can leave the picture with a washed-out feel to it. So, where an LED TV finds deep, true black colours and punchy contrast difficult, an OLED screen manages it with ease.

The less-than-great thing about OLED is it almost always costs more. And OLED isn’t as good in strongly lit rooms as it can’t go as bright as LED screens can. But in the right place, and for the right viewer, OLED can be sensational.

Not all OLED TVs are equal, though, even though all manufacturers use OLED panels from LG. There’s more to a TV than the panel.

Panasonic’s expertise stretches to detailed understanding of how to make the most of every element of its screens, from the image processing chip that powers it to the sophistication of the audio.

Read more:

Panasonic TX-55HZ2000b TV

Buy now £2,299, Store.panasonic.co.uk

Design

Like many flatscreens, this TV is very thin, with speaker units on the back bulking things up a bit, but you won’t be watching from there, will you? Note that if you do wall-mount this screen, it will sit a little further forward than many rivals because of these speakers.

Still, you might not want to. The stand is solid and attractive, though it lacks the capability to swivel it left or right, which some TVs offer. Most people wouldn’t use such a feature anyway, though in some cases it would have been beneficial, for instance, if you wanted to pivot the screen to watch from the kitchen rather than the sofa, should your home layout permit.

The bezel around the picture is very slim on the top and sides, while the bottom edge has a thicker border to fit in the forward-firing speakers that work like a built-in soundbar (and one that’s tuned by Technics, to boot).

Picture quality

This TV from Panasonic goes brighter than rivals, for instance, not least because the company uses advanced heat management techniques including a large heatsink, allowing it to push the TV harder. These are what Panasonic used when it made plasma TVs, an area where it was ahead of most of its rivals. Now, it’s using those principles to create a brighter OLED.

Read more: Best TV deals in the UK for July 2021: Cheap discounts on smart TVs from Sony, Samsung, LG and more

Not only is it brighter, it’s also great at just-above black. This is important if you’re watching in the darker ambient light in which OLED excels. It uses what Panasonic calls a “master HDR pro edition panel”, meant to be as colour-accurate and faithful as a monitor in a Hollywood picture grading suite (and several studios have Panasonic screens in precisely that situation).

Throughout, the Panasonic screen is great-looking with plenty of punch and liveliness and particularly shines when it comes to movies – this is a TV aimed at cinephiles.

Another way manufacturers differentiate their sets is through the image processing it employs. The HCX pro image processor here is great, offering exceptionally faithful colours across all your viewing. The behind-the-curtain features are numerous, including a series of elements, such as black frame insertion which help eliminate motion blur and make everything looks sharp and clear. Such systems can lead to side-effects such as flickering images, but not here, though it does make for a slightly darker picture overall.

This is an HDR screen, so it’s capable of showing huge levels of detail in both bright skies and dark shadows at the same time. There are multiple HDR platforms, and this TV supports all the key ones. This is important because if you’re watching Netflix or BBC, which favour different formats, then wider support means better picture quality. Amazon Prime Video, for instance, favours HDR10+ which is on this screen, along with Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG, the standard used by broadcasters. This versatility is a real bonus.

Read more: Best streaming services 2021: From Disney+ to Netflix, here’s how to find TV and movies on demand

Things get even better when you’re watching movies thanks to the TV’s filmmaker mode, which is designed to match what you see to what the creators intended. Colours are natural and powerfully accurate.

Where the screen isn’t as accomplished is for gaming. While it’s true that the heat management system helps resist OLED screen burn-in from parts of the picture that stay in place for a long time, such as the controls in a game, for instance, it lacks features such as variable refresh rate which may put off gamers.

Audio

There are two ways the audio on this TV excels. First, that Technics-tuned speaker that fires forward sounds great, with plenty of power and strong detail. Second, around the back of the TV are those speakers which bulk up the space behind the screen. These fire upwards and allow Dolby Atmos to be evident. They bounce the sound off the ceiling and create a wholly immersive sound.

Read more: 12 best Bluetooth speakers for every budget: Portable, wireless and waterproof

Live sports, for instance really benefit, and the difference between Dolby Atmos on and off is night and day. Though the bass can’t compete with a separate soundbar assisted by a sub-woofer, it is head and shoulders better than most flatscreens can deliver.

Interface

Now that TVs are smart, they all come with different operating systems. LG’s brilliant webOS is still the leader for elegant and intuitive use, while Sony and others use Android TV (slowly becoming Google TV) which operates more like a mobile phone or tablet. Samsung has its own Tizen system which is also good.

Panasonic’s set-up is great: simple, easy to use and attractive, never overwhelming the user and always making sense. Through the remote control you can access not just the different inputs (Sky, gaming console, Apple TV box and so on) but also a wide range of apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, All 4, Britbox and more.

Read more: 9 best gaming projectors for taking your console experience to the next level

But there are two noticeable absences: Apple TV+ and Disney+ so you’ll need to plug in a media streamer like the Amazon fire stick 4K, for instance.

The verdict: Panasonic TX-55HZ2000

This is a sensational TV from Panasonic with outstanding picture quality that most other TVs can’t match. The dedicated filmmaker mode makes motion pictures really shine. Plus the audio is a cut above thanks to the built-in speakers on the front and the innovative upward-pointing speakers on the back which make Dolby Atmos work. And it’s beautifully designed.

It’s true that you can find TVs much cheaper than this, and even plenty of OLED screens will beat this price. But you just won’t get this picture quality, we’d argue. If you’re a movie fan, especially, the glorious picture really wins the day.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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