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Hands on: Panasonic HZ2000 Review

The Panasonic HZ2000 is a powerful 4K OLED TV with some smart image processing options that you'll want to use

First Impressions

It can be hard to differentiate OLED TVs between manufacturers but the Panasonic HZ2000 brings something different to the party with Intelligent Sensing that can make the best of Filmmaker Mode under any lighting condition. Excellent image quality and higher-than-average peak brightness could make this TV the one that home cinema fans will really want.

Key Specifications

  • Filmmaker Mode with Intelligent Sensing
  • Supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Support for Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG, plus new Dolby Vision IQ
  • HCX Pro Intelligent processor

In a world where all OLED TVs are seen as being the same, manufacturers need to find a way to make a difference. For the 4K Panasonic HZ2000, the differences come from the way the panel has been engineered to produce a higher peak brightness than the competition, plus a unique way of handling the new Filmmaker Mode.

Panasonic HZ2000 Design – Simple and straightforward like last year’s TV

Look at the HZ2000 and then turn to last year’s GZ2000 and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the design still looks great today with its slim bezel and there’s a three-channel soundbar underneath the screen.

As you can see from the cutaway image below, the soundbar is made up of a centre speaker, left and right speakers (mid-range, tweeter, double woofer and passive radiator), plus you get two upwards firing speakers for Dolby Atmos. You can also connect a wired subwoofer if you want to improve the bass response from this TV without having to buy a completely separate sound system.

Who needs an external sound system anyway?

So far, all of these features are things that existed on last year’s TV, but inside the TV is where the magic has been worked with a few new ways of handling things, with this TV promising to deliver the best 4K image quality on both models: 55-inch and 65-inch.

Both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are supported, letting you use a voice assistant to control the TV.

Panasonic HZ2000 Picture Quality – Excellent brightness and Intelligent Sensing keep detail in all conditions

As with last year’s model, the HZ2000 doesn’t just have a regular OLED panel, but a custom-made Master HDR Professional Edition panel. The main difference is that this panel is capable of reaching a maximum brightness that’s 20% higher than rival OLED models. According to Panasonic, the main issue with upping brightness on OLED is the heat that’s generated, so the HZ2000 uses a new material to make heat dissipation more efficient.

The key thing about OLED is that as maximum brightness increases, blacks stay the same, so the dynamic range in the picture stays the same. In a demo that I saw the HZ2000 vs a rival TV, and the extra brightness is noticeable, not just through pure brightness but also with a fraction more detail in images. It’s a comparatively subtle but important difference for those that want to get every last drop of detail out of their footage. Panasonic has said that the set can reach 1000nits with a 30-40% window.

Panasonic has added Dolby Vision IQ into the mix this year. For Dolby Vision content, IQ uses the light sensor on the TV to measure the ambient light in the room, which it then uses to adjust the brightness and gamma of the TV. The aim of the technology is to maintain the same image quality under all light sources by smart adjustments rather than simply upping the brightness.

Panasonic HZ2000 Dolby Vision

Dolby Vision IQ tunes the TV to match the ambient lighting

Comparing the HZ2000 to the older GZ2000 in a darkened room, it has to be said that there’s not much difference between the two models when the lights are off. Turn the lights on, and the GZ2000 suddenly looks very dark and it’s hard to see what’s going on; the HZ2000, in comparison, took a few seconds to adjust the image, but the result was impressive with the image visually looking the same as when the lights were off. This should mean that your TV can adjust to your room, which is great for when you want to watch something but you’re not in the mood to dim your lights to cinema levels.

Panasonic has also added Filmmaker Mode to the HZ2000, which disables some features, including motion processing and image sharpening while maintaining colours, aspect ratio and frame rates. The mode is also designed to lower the brightness of a TV, which works well in a darkened room but makes it hard to see what’s going on in a well-lit room.

To combat this, Panasonic is using the ambient light sensor on the TV and has implemented Intelligent Sensing. Think of this as Panasonic’s own version of Dolby Vision IQ, with the picture adjusting to the light to preserve detail by intelligently adjusting brightness and gamma. Again, it’s an impressive feature that helps the TV adapt to your room. Intelligent Sensing can work with HDR10+ and HLG Photo modes, but when Dolby Vision content is detected, Dolby Vision IQ steps in instead.

With this model, Filmmaker Mode is not engaged automatically but through a dedicated button on the remote control. This probably makes more sense at the moment, as sensing via HDMI requires the AVI Infoframe content flag to be set, which currently isn’t used. It will take content producers a while to start using the flag, and older content will not be marked up.

Panasonic HZ2000 remote

The Picture button enables and disables Filmmaker Mode

Panasonic HZ2000 Audio Quality – Powerful encompassing sound

I was given a demo of the HZ2000’s sound prowess, with the demonstration using Dolby Atmos and a separate subwoofer. This year, Panasonic has said that although the audio system remains similar to the one used in the GZ2000, the HZ2000’s sound has been retuned by Technics engineers. Without having both TVs to hand and only being shown a demo, it’s hard to pass judgement on which is best.

What I can tell you is that the HZ2000 impresses. For Atmos content, there’s a genuine feeling of being enveloped in sound. With the subwoofer, there’s an impressive kick, with the bass adding the depth and rumble that you want from film soundtracks. Certainly, if you didn’t want to have to add an external sound system, the HZ2000 seems to have the presence and capability to impress.

Panasonic HZ2000 – Early Verdict

There’ll be a full review on this site when samples of the HZ200 are made available. It’s also hard to make a judgement without knowing the price of the set, although our guess is that both models will start off at a similar price to the GZ2000 at launch.

What we can say is that the extra brightness helps push more detail and deliver a more engaging HDR experience, while Panasonic’s Intelligent Sensing helps make the most of Filmmaker Mode under any lighting condition. Last year, we said that the GZ200 was “arguably the best all-round OLED TV”, and this year’s TV looks to improve on that impressive base.

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