- Beautiful, contrast-rich pictures
- Surprisingly powerful sound
- Excellent video processing
- No Dolby Vision
- Slightly old-fashioned looking smart system
- Not as bright with HDR as LCD TVs
- 65-inch OLED TV
- Native 4K Resolution
- HDR10, HDR10+, HLG support
- My Home Screen 3.0 smart system
- HCX Video processor
What is the Panasonic FZ802/FZ800 OLED?
The Panasonic FZ802 is the more affordable of the company’s two OLED TVs for 2018. It uses the latest generation of OLED panel, powered by a new Panasonic ‘HCX’ processing system. This processor delivers better management of shadow details in dark scenes and a wider colour range than Panasonic’s already excellent 2017 OLED TVs.
It’s available at 55 inches (Panasonic TX-55FZ802B, £2299) and the 65 inches (Panasonic TX-65FZ802B, £3499) tested here. Note that in the UK it’s known as the Panasonic FZ802, but elsewhere it’s called the Panasonic FZ800 series.
If you have a little more cash to splash then check out its big brother, the excellent Panasonic FZ952/FZ950, which is armed with a soundbar.
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Panasonic FZ802/FZ800 – Design and build quality
The first thing you’ll notice about the Panasonic FZ802/FZ800 is how incredibly thin it is. Even by OLED standards, much of its rear looks physics-defyingly trim. In fact, its top third is barely half as deep as LG’s C8 OLED series.
The screen is also remarkably light. It seems to rely more on plastic than the glass or metal often used to support such prodigiously thin screens. While this raised concerns about the screen flexing during setup, it was slotted on its stand without incident.
The stand actually feels heavier than the screen. It’s made from a heavy-duty metal plate that looks and feels way more opulent than the screen it supports.
Oddly, once you’ve built the Panasonic FZ802/FZ800 and are sat in front of it, the most striking elements of the design – its thin rear and opulent stand – become pretty much invisible. But this does mean you’re able to focus on the FZ802’s pictures instead.
The TV’s remote is a little disappointing. It’s lightweight and plasticky, and while its buttons are large, they’re not especially well laid out.
The remote does have dedicated buttons for accessing Netflix and Freeview Play. But the fact that these appear in completely separate areas underlines the essential randomness of the remote’s layout.
A more premium, metal-faced remote is another benefit of upgrading to the Panasonic FZ950/FZ952.
Panasonic FZ802 – Features
The Panasonic FZ802/FZ800’s headline attraction is its combination of OLED’s pixel-level light control and Panasonic video processing. The former has long been adored by home-cinema fans for its phenomenal contrast abilities. Rich, deep blacks can sit immaculately alongside the brightest whites, with no cross-contamination or compromise.
As for Panasonic’s processing, it’s always been admired by movie fans for its focus on recreating a director’s intended look as closely as possible. Put these two attractions together and you have a potential match made in home-cinema heaven. So much so, that Panasonic OLED TVs are now used by many professional TV and film mastering houses.
So with the FZ802 you could potentially watch a film or TV show on the same screen (or an extremely similar one) on which it was mastered. This is pretty much the holy grail for some AV enthusiasts.
The new HCX video processor introduced on the FZ802 improves on the 2017’s processor in three main ways. First, the near-professional-grade 3D Lookup Table (LUT) colour system Panasonic uses in its OLED TVs has had extra layers added to it.
This should enhance colour reproduction in dark picture areas, and refine the (difficult) process of pixels going from full black to near black. That means the FZ802 hits nearly 100% of digital cinema’s DCI colour space, which is a big deal in today’s HDR age.
Also looking very impressive in demos earlier in the year is the new HCX system’s Dynamic LUT feature. Previously, Panasonic OLED TVs applied a static Lookup Table to any TV show or film. But the new HCX system assesses the picture every 100ms and dynamically loads whatever LUT it thinks suits the image best at that point.
The result is more brightness, colour richness, image depth and – surprisingly – better detail and clarity.
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The FZ802 supports three flavours of high dynamic range: HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG. HDR10 is the industry standard found on any HDR TV. HDR10+ adds extra scene-by-scene data to help a display produce more accurate and dramatic HDR images. HLG is the new broadcast-friendly HDR format currently being used by the BBC for its 4K World Cup streams.
The one key omission from this list is Dolby Vision. This rival to HDR10+ also provides TVs with extra scene-by-scene data. While HDR10+ is currently only found on HDR Amazon Video streams, Dolby Vision is widely available on 4K Blu-rays and Apple TV movie streams.
Much more HDR10+ content is expected later this year, however. Also, at the time of writing, no TV that supports Dolby Vision also supports HDR10+. So to be fair to Panasonic, no TV offers a complete Dolby Vision/HDR10+ solution.
The FZ802’s connections include four HDMIs, tuner feeds for Freeview Play and Freesat, three USBs, and built-in Wi-fi for going online or streaming from networked DLNA devices.
However, it’s worth pointing out that HDMIs three and four only support limited bandwidth. In other words, they will only support 4:2:0 chroma signals with 4K sources running at 60Hz or 50Hz.
So, with a Sony X700 4K Blu-ray player, HDMI 3 and 4 wouldn’t play the 60fps 4K Blu-ray of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in HDR. HDMI 1 and 2, by comparison, supported full 4:4:4 HDR colour with this 60/50Hz 4K disc.
Impressively, given how affordable the Panasonic FZ802/FZ800 is relative to its previous OLED offerings, it’s THX Certified. This means its pictures have passed the barrage of tests created by THX’s independent quality control labs.
It also means there are two THX modes among the FZ802’s picture presets. Although I found these a little too “warm” and fond of turning off Panasonic’s processing.
The FZ802’s smart system is the latest version of Panasonic’s My Home Screen platform. It doesn’t seem very different from the last one. In fact, its menus are starting to look a little dated now.
You still have to admire their simplicity, though, if you take the time to customise the homescreen to your liking. Most major TV apps are there, too – including Netflix and Amazon Video in 4K HDR, and Freeview Play. The latter provides an eminently browsable one-stop-shop for the catch-up apps of the UK’s main terrestrial broadcasters.
One last feature worth pointing out here is the 65FZ802’s sound system. It doesn’t sport the integrated soundbar, which – along with a more premium design – sets apart Panasonic’s more expensive FZ952 models. But it still squeezes in a 40W sound system. And as we’ll see, it makes this power pay off handsomely.
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Panasonic FZ802/FZ800 – Performance
The Panasonic FZ802/FZ800’s pictures are easily the most all-round beautiful I’ve seen from a Panasonic OLED TV. That’s saying something when you think how awesome all those other Panasonic OLEDs have been.
The thing that hits you first is how much brighter images look than those of any previous Panasonic OLED model. This applies to both the average brightness level of its HDR pictures and particularly the reach of HDR’s brightness peaks.
This instantly makes HDR look vastly more satisfying and impressive. Especially since the FZ802 delivers its higher brightness without any compromise to the immaculately deep, rich black colours that are OLED’s trademark.
In fact, Panasonic has improved its OLED black level performance with the FZ802. I no longer detected any of the vignetting and vertical brightness inconsistencies with real-world content that Panasonic’s previous OLEDs exhibited. Even the extremely tough-to-show cockpit scenes at the start of American Made appear smoothly graded.
There seems to be more subtle shadow detail in the very darkest areas of the FZ802’s pictures. There isn’t any of the fizzing noise that LG OLED TVs can suffer when trying to handle just-above-black content or transitions from black to just-above-black. So, provided you use the Normal preset, you get pristine blacks of incredible depth, but also plenty of clean detail.
I pick out the Normal preset there because with other, lower-brightness presets, dark areas against bright backdrops can become too uniformly black. More like black holes or silhouettes rather than natural, fully detailed parts of the picture. In fact, while I’ve praised the FZ802’s higher brightness, only the Normal preset with HDR Brightness turned off gave an all-round satisfying HDR picture.
The FZ802’s excellent new black level refinement is matched by some stunning control of light in the brightest parts of HDR pictures. I could suddenly see minute details in HDR images not seen before – even in titles I’ve watched dozens of times.
For instance, as the tidal wave rolls in during the parting of the sea sequence in Exodus: Gods And Kings on 4K Blu-ray, the FZ802’s remarkable light controls revealed sunlight catching the backs of whirling distant seagulls (barely a few pixels in size) with unprecedented precision. The same is true of the spray coming off the churning wave’s surface.
Similarly, I was more aware of the distant flashing lights of the petrol refinery and the sun-on-metal reflections in Furiosa’s cab in Mad Max: Fury Road’s early desert sequences.
Put the FZ802’s control of light and black level together, and you have a gorgeous demonstration of what HDR can do. But even on its Normal picture preset, the FZ802’s HDR pictures don’t enjoy general, baseline brightness levels as high as those of LG’s latest Alpha 9 OLED TVs.
The LG settings in their most effective Standard picture mode deliver around 25 nits more than the FZ802’s 785 nits (in Normal mode) on our 10% white window. Shot for shot, however, the LG’s HDR pictures do look slightly brighter than those of the Panasonic – even if you stick with the Panasonic’s Normal preset.
The LG’s HDR pictures also look more heavily saturated than those of the FZ802, regardless of whether you use the Panasonic’s various colour-enhancement tools. Add this to their extra brightness, and the LG’s pictures undoubtedly have slightly more raw HDR impact.
Crucially, though, the FZ802’s pictures display more refinement. This applies to black level, peak brightness management, upscaling of HD sources and colour.
A great shot to illustrate this latter colour strength occurs in Mad Max: Fury Road, right at the start of chapter 2 of the 4K Blu-ray. As the lead car ahead of Furiosa’s truck appears in shot and moves down the road ahead of the camera, while the car and road look markedly more heavily saturated on the LG, there’s more refinement and range in the shades of colour the FZ802 reproduces.
The FZ802 also looks slightly more natural with motion than the LG’s, provided you stick with the minimum motion processing. Judder is reduced to mostly ‘natural’ levels, and motion clarity is retained nicely, which is a particularly big deal with 4K content.
The only catch with the IFC platform is that movement in and out of the image – zooms in, tracks back – can cause some quite pronounced stuttering. Luckily, such motion is much rarer than horizontal motion and panning, which the IFC system handles well.
One last important strength of the FZ802’s pictures is that as with all OLED TVs, you can watch them from almost any angle without pictures losing colour or contrast. No LCD TV can rival OLED in this respect.
Joining the FZ802’s truly outstanding pictures is some unexpectedly excellent sound. There’s little in the TV’s slinky, lightweight design to suggest that its speakers could have much power. But, actually, they can go strikingly loud without a hint of distortion or cabinet rattle. They project the sound away from the screen without losing cohesion, too. There’s even a height element to this projected sound, as well as a horizontal ‘splay’.
Voices sound clear and well rounded, projecting forward rather than just hanging around vaguely behind the screen. There’s even a decent amount of bass to be heard. This is delivered, moreover, without the bagginess or distortions heard with the ostensibly more powerful LG E8 OLED TV.
Panasonic FZ802/FZ800 – Settings
The Panasonic FZ802/FZ800’s picture menus have much going on, starting with an enormous set of picture preset options. Personally, though, I’d only recommend experimenting with three for video.
True Cinema delivers what Panasonic considers the optimal combination of source accuracy and panel capability. Cinema adds slightly more brightness to the True Cinema setup, while Normal (the default setting) delivers a much brighter picture. For me, Normal was the only setting that delivered enough brightness to truly satisfy with HDR video.
One preset point to make is that you should always switch to the Game preset for video-gaming sessions. This reduces input lag (the time the screen takes to render its images) to just under 20ms – an excellent result in line with other flagship TVs this year.
Once you’ve picked your preset, there are still lots of other tweaks to consider. Vivid Colour, for starters, I recommend leaving on for standard dynamic range images, but off with HDR.
A separate Colour Remaster feature (which becomes Rec 2020 Colour Remaster with HDR) I’d set to minimum for SDR, and ‘on’ for HDR. HDR colours look quite flat without Colour Remaster active.
Turn off the ambient sensor, as well as the standard and MPEG noise-reduction circuits (if you’re watching 4K or good quality HD). As for the Resolution Master feature, this only has a very mild sharpening effect. But since it doesn’t seem to harm the picture, you might as well leave it on.
Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) motion processing works pretty well on its Low setting. Don’t push it higher unless you want to see smudgy halos appear around moving objects.
Dynamic Range Remaster is worth experimenting with for SDR sources, since it ramps up their vibrancy and colour saturations. But the trade-off is that colours tend to look less balanced with some standing out more than others. Basically, you’re trading ‘punch’ for refinement and source accuracy.
I’d recommend not using the Black Frame insertion motion option, since it makes the picture too dark. Make sure 16:9 overscanning is turned off with HD or 4K content, too.
One last important option to consider is Panasonic’s new HDR Brightness feature. This can, if switched on, adjust the picture’s brightness to suit light levels in your room. This is a thoughtful feature in many ways, since it tries to compensate for the way HDR can look too dark in a bright room, or too bright in a dark room.
While it’s okay left on for normal day-to-day viewing, I’d strongly recommend turning it off for a serious, dark-room movie experience. For me, it makes the picture too dark in such an environment – even if you slide its ‘HDR Brightness Enhancer’ component to its highest level.
Why buy the Panasonic FZ802/FZ800?
Thanks to Panasonic’s more aggressive OLED pricing for 2018, the FZ802/FZ800 is up against two key rivals: the LG C8 and the Samsung Q9FN.
The LG OLEDs deliver a brighter baseline HDR picture in their best Standard preset, but they offer slightly less refinement with their colours at the darkest and brightest ends of the HDR spectrum. Also, the difference in baseline HDR brightness isn’t huge if you use the FZ802/FZ800’s Normal preset, making the choice between the LG’s brightness and the Panasonic’s refinement much less stark than it would be if you were comparing the LG OLEDs with the recent, much darker Sony AF8 OLED.
In addition, the LG has to noticeably dim its picture with very bright HDR images on occasion, while the Panasonic’s images remain almost impressively stable.
LG’s TVs support Dolby Vision, while the FZ802/FZ800 does not. But Panasonic’s HDR10+ support may become a strong riposte once the first HDR10+ 4K Blu-rays arrive.
LG’s TVs do comfortably outgun the 65FZ802 when it comes to their smart TV systems. WebOS is slicker and cleaner than Panasonic’s My Home Screen platform, although Panasonic’s smart features certainly aren’t hard to use.
The main advantage of the Samsung Q9FN over the Panasonic FZ802/FZ800, meanwhile, is that it can go far brighter with HDR sources. It delivers much more of HDR’s full brightness potential, and unlocks much more colour volume in the brightest HDR areas.
Thanks to the Q9FN’s remarkable direct backlighting and local dimming system, its extreme brightness is partnered with class-leading black levels by LCD standards. In fact, its black levels get close to those of the FZ802/FZ800 for sheer blackness.
However, securing such deep, even black levels during very dark scenes does mean that the Samsung can lose quite a bit of shadow detail that the FZ802/FZ800 does not.
Samsung also has to reduce the intensity of any bright elements during very dark HDR scenes to avoid backlight clouding. The FZ802’s bright elements in very dark scenes thus look much more dynamic and rich. The FZ802 also supports much wider effective viewing angles.
With the FZ802/FZ800, Panasonic makes its already excellent OLED picture quality substantially better, delivering this new quality at a genuinely competitive price. The result is another absolute barnstormer of a TV.
Score in detail
Smart TV 8
Image Quality 10
Sound Quality 8
|Max. Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|Full HD 1080p||Yes (actually 4K)|
|Refresh Rate (Hertz)||100|
|Digital Audio Out||1|