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Sound and Vision: Panasonic’s 2024 TVs are more evolution than revolution

OPINION: It’s been a hectic few months in the TV world. Samsung launched its TVs, followed by LG, Sony, Hisense, TCL, and now Panasonic. All have revealed their hand for what’s to come in the following months.

There have been rumours – or at the very least some musings in the industry – that Panasonic would pull out of the TV industry sooner rather than later.

It left the North American market several years ago and it appears to have exited the Australian market (which many brands seem lukewarm to these days).

If you wanted to read the tea leaves in a certain way, they might reveal a Panasonic that’s losing interest in a fiercely competitive market where profit margins are shrinking, especially towards the budget end of the market.

But this and the 2023 line-up showed a Panasonic that seemed willing to tough it out. More OLED screens than before, a wide range of LCD LED options, and its first Mini LED screen. That doesn’t sound like a company losing interest. In fact, the 2024 range is Panasonic being very aggressive.

And yet, in the press release it spoke about revolution with its latest line-up and having seen the TVs and walked through a series of demonstrations, I can’t help but feel that new ideas are a little low on the ground.

Panasonic isn’t the only one to speak of revolution in 2024. Sony said something similar with its Bravia announcement and Samsung has raved about AI in its TVs, even though there’s been AI in its TVs for years now.

The point I’m trying to make is that true innovation has become thin on the ground. At the plenary event in Dusseldorf, Panasonic talked up its Extreme True Game modes and another partnership with Diablo for the upcoming expansion. All this echoed last year’s announcements without moving the needle forward much.

Panasonic 2024 TV Experience Diablo IV gaming mode
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There was another partnership announced with a mastering house – Platige – who create in-game cinematics for the likes of Call of Duty along with Company3, who use Panasonic TVs for mastering films including Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. However, Disney mandates that any company working with it uses LG OLEDs across its productions, and although LG doesn’t talk about this, it arguably puts the Korean company in a bigger sphere of influence within the film industry and the home market.

Panasonic 2024 TV Experience mastering houses
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The Fire TV tie-up was already announced but the addition of the TiVo interface was a nice surprise. The UK won’t get Panasonic Google TVs, but from what I know and have seen of the TiVo operating system, it’s a very good alternative.

It’ll be sad to see My Home Screen disappear, but in today’s smart age, Panasonic needed to level up and despite my misgivings about Fire TV, it has achieved that.

Panasonic 2024 TV Experience TiVo interface
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

I was shown an audio demo of the Z90A OLED that didn’t sound as good as the MZ1500. While it was more refined in some ways it lacked the weightiness and energy of the MZ1500’s sound system.

The OLED and Mini LED picture quality all looked to be a step up from the 2023 models, with smoother gradation and reduced banding; as well as Panasonic supporting Dolby Vision IQ with Precision Detail, a feature that only LG TVs had up until now but presents even more detail and finesse in the image.

Panasonic 2024 TV Experience Mini LED demo
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

However, these all felt like incremental improvements rather than one big leap forward; evolution rather than revolution.

When I first started going to these events, I always felt as if Panasonic was the company bringing new ideas to the market – higher brightness OLED panels, genuinely good sound systems for a TV, Dolby Vision IQ and Filmmaker mode picture accuracy. It was the TV brand that was bringing new technology to the market, and more often than not, it was the first to do so.

Now everyone has caught up, and the innovation Panasonic was bringing seems to have slowed. Perhaps that’s something that could be applied to the industry as a whole but much of what I saw felt like a repeat of things I’ve already seen from Panasonic. Were they better? Yes, but there was a sense of familiarity hanging over the event.

Where does that leave Panasonic in the mix of things? I’m not entirely sure. I think the quality of its TVs deserves a bigger reward; and perhaps the adoption of Fire TV, Google TV, and TiVo can make the TVs more accessible. I hope that’s the case because the TV world needs a Panasonic that’s taking chances and pushing the TV market forward.

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