There’s still some way to go for the MZ2000, at least when comes to picture tuning, but what’s been shown so far is hugely exciting. The best home cinema OLED screen of 2022 is getting a meaningful update for 2023.
- New MLA high brightness OLED panel
- Improved Game Mode Extreme
- Better bass performance
- Still only two 4K/120fps HDMI inputs
- HDR supportDolby Vision IQ, HDR10, HDR10+ Adaptive, HLG, HDR Photo
- Picture modesFilmmaker Mode with Intelligent Sensing and colour
- GameNew True Game preset
If brightness is the next battlefield for TVs, then Panasonic’s incoming MZ2000 makes for a formidable foe. Shown for the first time at CES 2023, the model is the successor to the brand’s current range-topping OLED telly, the LZ2000.
The new MZ2000 boasts a dramatic increase in peak HDR brightness, courtesy of a fresh OLED panel design, and has refinements in audio and usability.
I had an early look, behind the scenes at CES in Las Vegas, and this is what I discovered…
- No different to previous model
- Upgraded screen
- Same remote as before
Visually, there’s nothing to differentiate the MZ2000 from last year’s flagship. It has the same bodywork, with no change to dimensions or build. There’s the familiar forward facing soundbar speaker array, with rear mounted height and side speakers. The thin-bezel set sits on a central, swivelling podium mount.
The remote control is also the same, premium handset, seen on the last year’s model.
But looks are deceiving. There are big changes beneath the hood which fundamentally affect performance.
The most obvious upgrade is the use of a third gen MLA (Micro Lens Array) OLED panel from LG Display, coupled to a new two-layer heatsink configuration.
The MLA OLED panel comprises a layer of micrometre convex lenses that maximise light emission. This prevents light being reflected back into the module, thereby boosting brightness. This is allied to a dual-layer heat management solution made of metallic and non-metallic materials which allow heat to be sucked away from the screen. Panasonic calls this OLED design ‘Master OLED Ultimate’.
- Improved brightness
- Better suited for bright-room viewing
- More luminous colours
In the driving seat for picture performance is Panasonic’s HCX Pro AI processor. I was quoted a peak white HDR uplift of 50 per cent, but that number doesn’t do justice to just how dramatic this looks in real life.
While CES was buzzing, I went backstage for an early hands-on, and was able to compare the new model to last year’s LZ2000. The difference in highlight brightness is dramatic!
The LZ2000 is no slouch – indeed it is a Trusted Review Awards winner – but the new model really has additional wow. A sequence involving a glittering crystal vase, backlit on black, jumped off the screen. The HDR highlights gave the image almost three-dimensional depth.
Panasonic is quoting a peak HDR brightness of just under 1500 nits for the MZ2000, compared to 1000 nits on the 2022 LZ2000.
The benefit of MLA isn’t restricted to HDR, it also lifts average picture level, so the entire picture (no matter how it’s been graded) has more punch. This makes it a convincing alternative to Mini LED when it comes to bright room viewing.
The danger with a raised average picture level (APL) is a loss of subtle detail at near black, that transitional point between pitch black and low shadow detail. From what I could see, there has been no sacrifice here. The panel still offers an artful level of dark gradation.
The other win is colour reproduction, with bright primaries getting a smidge more luminosity. As we’ve come to expect, final colour tuning will be courtesy of award-winning Hollywood colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld.
All viewing was done using the Vivid image preset. The sample offered up was still officially a prototype, and has some way to go before all image modes have been correctly set. But early signs are very exciting.
- Improvements to bass promised
While the 360° Soundscape system remains unchanged from the LZ2000, at least from a hardware perspective, Panasonic is promising improvements to the system’s bass performance, courtesy of a new Bass Booster algorithm. I’ll need to wait until a final review sample comes in before I can test this.
- Still on two HDMI 2.1 inputs
- New True Game mode
Last year, Panasonic moved squarely into the OLED gaming space. For 2023, it’s reinforcing this position with some interesting refinements of its gaming experience.
Two (out of four) HDMI inputs have v2.1 functionality, capable of 4K/120Hz playback.
In addition to ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), and HDMI VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), it’s adding Nvidia G-Sync support, to match AMD Freesync. Good news if you’re a PC gamer looking for a large OLED gaming monitor.
Also new on this model is a True Game mode, said to bring the ultimate in colour accuracy to gameplay. This True Game mode can also be calibrated using Calman Colour Software, if that’s your thing. I thought the True Game mode in 4K/120fps, running off an Xbox Series console looked absolutely sublime, buttery smooth with excellent detail.
To match the True Game mode are new Game Audio presets for FPS games (which optimise the soundstage to better hear movements left and right) and RPGs.
I found the former exaggerates the soundstage, to better hear opponents moving left and right. The RPG mode boosts dialogue for greater clarity, although it does sound a little tinny. Other niceties include a new Streaming Remaster algorithm that upgrades HD and lower source material.
There’s still some way to go for the MZ2000, at least when comes to picture tuning, but what we’ve seen so far is hugely exciting. The best home cinema OLED screen of 2022 is getting a meaningful update for 2023.
The Panasonic MZ2000 is already one of must see TVs for 2023. It’s definitely one to look out for.
No price has been given yet, but it shouldn’t be too far off existing LZ2000 prices. Expect it to launch in the summer.
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Micro Lens Array (or MLA) is a next-gen OLED panel from LG Display that redirects light that would normally be reflected off the screen towards the viewer, resulting in higher peak brightness and wider viewing angles.