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Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED

Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED: Two famous Japanese brands in Panasonic and Sony have new OLEDs for 2020, but how do their TVs stack up against each other?

For this versus we’re not going to compare Panasonic’s flagship OLED against Sony’s A8. Considering that Panasonic have four OLED efforts out in 2020 compared to Sony’s two (one of them being the KD-48A9), instead we’re comparing the A8 OLED to its nearest rival in terms of price, which brings up the HZ1000.

So, in this contest of the Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED, what are their vital statistics?

Related: Best OLED TV

Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED — Price

The Sony A8 costs £1799 for the 55-inch and £2799 for the 65-inch model. The Panasonic HZ1000 hits a very similar price: £1999 for the 55-inch model and £2899 for the 65-inch version.

That makes them pretty even in terms of price, with the Sony slightly cheaper. Look online and discounts for the Panasonic help bring it in line with the Sony, and in some cases cheaper.

Related: Panasonic TV – Every 4K HDR OLED and LCD TVs explained

Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED — Design

Sony’s One-Slate design has doubled down on the minimalism compared to other OLEDs. The idea is that the bezel doesn’t intrude on the screen and that the stand is barely noticeable – and it shows.

However, the two-way metal Blade stand – which are adjustable so the height of the TV can be raised to fit a soundbar below – could be an issue for smaller AV racks. To be certain, an area that’s about 110/115cm wide is required to plant the TV on whatever furniture you’ve chosen. The Blade feet also act as cable holders to minimise clutter. With feet and without it, the 55-inch Sony weighs 16.8/18.6kg, and the 65-inch model 21.8/23.6kg.

Connections include 4 x HDMI, with one eARC port. The A8 OLED  leaves out VRR and ALLM, and doesn’t support 4K/120 that the next-gen game consoles can offer. Other connections include 3 x USB: digital audio out, headphone, broadcast aerials, composite, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

The HZ000 comes with a central stand that can be swivelled to avoid screen glare. It can also be wall-mounted via a third-party VESA wall mount. It doesn’t have the up-firing Atmos speakers of the HZ1500 or HZ2000, nor does it have the Technics tuned front-firing speakers.

HDMI connections tally at four: one on the side and three at the bottom, and HDMI 2 supports eARC. There’s no VRR for synching the display with the refresh rate of a game, but there is ALLM for instantly switching to game mode. We’ll have to measure the response of each to see how well each TV fares in the gaming stakes.

Other connections include USB, Ethernet, a CI slot, digital optical input and headphone out. The 55HZ1000 weighs 21kg without the stand, and 26kg with; the 65-inch is 27kg and 32kg respectively.

This is a pretty tight contest, but the inclusion of a stand that swivels and more HDMI 2.1 features just about hands it to the Panasonic. In terms of attractiveness, the Sony is much more striking.

Related: What is HDMI 2.1?

Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED — Interface

Sony is invested in Android TV OS, and Android 9 is perhaps the most appealing version yet. Android supports a huge number of apps (over 5000), and although it doesn’t support UK catch-up TV apps such as BBC iPlayer, YouView is on hand with apps such as NOW TV, ITV Hub, All 4 and CBS Catch-up Channels UK. Android is organised in rows, with icons on the left-hand side and content on the right, which makes it easy enough to navigate.

Google Assistant is built-in to the A8 OLED and there’s also Google Home compatibility. Alexa requires an external device for control.

Panasonic’s My Home Screen is version 5.0, and continues its relatively simple visual approach. There’s access to Freeview Play, which brings in the UK catch-up apps. However, several months after their respective launches, Panasonic still hasn’t supported either Disney Plus or Apple TV. My Home Screen opts for big circular icons with a launcher at the bottom that’s easily customisable. If you’re after Freesat, the HZ1000 doesn’t factor in support for it.

The HZ2000 works with Google Assistant and Alexa, but our understanding is that they’re not built-in and require an external device.

Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED — Features

Panasonic isn’t huge on smart, interconnected features; focusing more on modes that bring increased visual fidelity. For casting content, viewers will need to use an app such as AirBeam (iOS/Mac), but the HZ1000 supports DLNA for streaming to NAS devices and the like.

The A8 OLED currently supports Apple TV through AirPlay 2, but an update due this summer should (finally) bring the native app onboard. As well as the aforementioned AirPlay 2, there’s Apple HomeKit and Chromecast streaming.

Panasonic has put its weight behind Filmmaker Mode (activated by a button on the remote), Dolby Vision IQ and Netflix Calibrated Mode. Its Intelligent Sensing technology is similar to Dolby Vision IQ, in that it adapts to bright or dark lighting conditions. When used in conjunction with Filmmaker Mode, it’s available across HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and SDR content.

Sony has decided to forgo Filmmaker Mode, but it does support Netflix Calibrated Mode for studio quality picture for certain content. The Sony A8 OLED also meets IMAX Enhanced certification for high-quality colour, clarity and sound with supported kit.

Sony’s Ambient Optimisation is their own version of Panasonic’s Intelligent Sensing, but goes a bit further. Like Intelligent Sensing, it’s able to suss out the amount of light in a room and adapt the panel’s brightness. However, it can also detect the objects in a room that disturb/absorb sound, and reconfigures the performance to compensate. Sony claims its S-Force Front Surround can virtually reproduce a speaker system with front and rear speakers.

Sony backs Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG broadcast, while Panasonic’s HDR is all encompassing: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and HLG Photo. Both TV’s back Dolby Atmos for high quality TV audio.

All of Panasonic’s OLEDs support CalMan PatternGen test patterns, and calibration of Dolby Vision content can also be done. The Sony is CalMan ready with its auto-calibration feature.

Out of the two the Sony is in-keeping with smart features, but we’re going to side with Panasonic for its wide-ranging HDR support.

Related: All the Sony 8K, 4K, OLED and Bravia TVs

Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED — Performance

The same chip that powers Sony’s 8K TVs drives the A8 OLED. The top-of-the-line X1 Ultimate processor includes Pixel Contrast Booster to boost colour and contrast for a more lifelike picture. Object-based HDR remaster examines individual objects on the screen, and adjusts the contrast for more depth, texture and realism.

Upscaling is handled by 4K X-Reality Pro, which can take 2K and HD images to near 4K-quality. X-Motion Clarity removes judder and blurring for clearer and smoother images. Sony’s Triluminos technology widens the colour spectrum for colours that look more natural and precise.

Acoustic Surface-Audio is the A8 OLED’s method for producing sound. It uses actuators placed beneath the screen that vibrate the panel to create sound. The position of the actuators also helps to accurately place effects on screen. Voice Zoom amplifies dialogue without turning up the volume, and there’s an integrated subwoofer for bass-heavy soundtracks. The overall output of this system is 30W.

The HZ1000 has the HCX Pro Intelligent Processor which powers the Master HDR OLED display, though this is not the same screen as seen in the HZ2000, and therefore not as bright with HDR content. Panasonic claims the improved Black Frame Insertion (BFI) technology, offers reduced flickering and smoother motion with fast moving sports.

The audio is also a 30W speaker configuration with two down-firing speakers. If you need extra bass, an external subwoofer can be connected via the headphone output socket.

Panasonic HZ1000 vs Sony A8 OLED — Early Verdict

We’ve not yet reviewed either of these TVs, but we have enough information to act as guide as to what they’re capable of. Neither of these TVs are particularly set up for gamers, despite the HZ1000 including ALLM for automatic switching into game mode.

The Sony is certainly smarter, and for apps it covers a wider range including Disney Plus which is still M.I.A on the Panasonic. Both take a more home cinema view, emphasising they’ll be at the centre of any home cinema set-up. If that is of interest – and we’ve not yet reviewed either – the Panasonic could edge it with its full HDR support.

With it being close to equal in terms of prices, we’ll be interested in putting these TVs through their paces once we get our hands on them. Considering the quality of the two brands, we can hardly wait.

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