Panasonic's MZ1500 OLED TV looks cool – but the LG C3 has one key advantage

Panasonic MZ1500 hands on at event
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

This week we had the privilege of getting a fresh look at Panasonic’s 2023 line of TVs, including its hotly anticipated rival to the LG C3, the MZ1500.

Now for readers new to the world of TVs, this is a big deal as, if you jump to our best TV guide, you’ll see we’re big fans of the C-series from LG, with the latest 42-inch LG C3 set earning a perfect 5-stars when we reviewed it earlier this year. 

And while I found plenty to get excited about after chatting to What Hi-Fi?’s TV and AV editor Tom Parsons about his experience with the set at Panasonic’s demo event, there was one big flaw I couldn’t escape from. Specifically, it only has two HDMI 2.1 ports, one of which doubles as an eARC connection.

We’ve been pretty open about our disdain for this connectivity set-up on any TV, let alone ones marketed at gamers. Staff writer Lewis Empson penned a similar piece explaining why he was so disappointed that the new MediaTek Pentonic 1000 chip, which is set to power many new TVs in the not-too-distant future, only supports up to two HDMI 2.1 inputs.

TVs with this set-up are a pain as most mainstream next-generation boxes, including game consoles such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X, need an HDMI 2.1 connection to fully function. Without it, you don’t get key things such as VRR or the ability to play games over 60fps in 4K – which makes a huge difference when playing reaction-based online games.

Dolby Atmos soundbars and speakers also need the eARC input to work. So if you have lots of boxes and a Dolby Atmos soundbar, you’re likely going to be spending a lot of time faffing around with cables.

A few years ago we could have forgiven this, but jump over to our best gaming TV guide and you’ll see that there are now TVs with four HDMI 2.1 connections. The most prominent of these is the LG C3. In fact, LG's top OLED TVs have had four HDMI 2.1 sockets for years.

The reason I’m slightly disappointed with Panasonic specifically in this instance – it's one of many companies still pushing TVs with only two HDMI 2.1 connections – is that outside of that, the MZ1500 looks amazing for gamers.

For starters, there’s a new True Game Mode that’s designed to bring the same brilliant “as the director intended” colour accuracy that we’ve enjoyed while watching movies on recent Panasonic sets, to gaming. For hardcore purists, it includes the ability to manually calibrate the TV using the Calman calibration system. 

But even out of the box, it has a pretty rich feature set including source-oriented HDR tone-mapping and G-Sync certification. So even if you don’t go down the calibration route, it should make games run smoother and look better.

This could have made the MZ1500 a “game changer” and one of the first TVs in recent memory with the chops to challenge LG’s C-line for price and performance. But sadly it looks like that won’t happen this year. 

Roll on 2024, eh?


Read the full Panasonic MZ1500 hands-on

These are the best Dolby Atmos soundbars available right now

Want a big TV? These are the best 65-inch TVs we've tested

Need something smaller? These are the best 42-inch TVs we've reviewed

Alastair Stevenson
Editor in Chief

Alastair is What Hi-Fi?’s editor in chief. He has well over a decade’s experience as a journalist working in both B2C and B2B press. During this time he’s covered everything from the launch of the first Amazon Echo to government cyber security policy. Prior to joining What Hi-Fi? he served as Trusted Reviews’ editor-in-chief. Outside of tech, he has a Masters from King’s College London in Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion, is an enthusiastic, but untalented, guitar player and runs a webcomic in his spare time. 

  • simontompkins
    Hi, Thank you for putting pressure on the industry into putting more HDMI ports on TVs. That being said I have a couple of issues with the article.
    Firstly, I search What HiFi and I find no group test of HDMI switchers (and/or splitters) So I'm wondering are switchers and splitters so useless as not to be worth a test? Does What HiFi feel they are irrelevant or maybe there's an idea that you think that TV should have more ports.
    I'm confused because it looks to me like there are manual 120hz 4k switchers on Amazon and at less than a hundred pound.
    So secondly, if there are switchers and splitters around (and they work) then why very strong comments about the lack of hdmi ports on the Panasonic. Question becomes, annoying as the lack of ports on the Panasonic is, is it worth spending an extra hundred to get the additional ports.
    If these switchers and splitters do work and only cost around hundred and if the Panasonic is a really impressive set (which you say it is) then I don't understand the:
    "could have made the MZ1500 a “game changer” and one of the first TVs in recent memory with the chops to challenge LG’s C-line for price and performance. But sadly it looks like that won’t happen this year. "
    For my part, I'm not that fussed about four ports and even if I were, I'd happily pay a hundred extra if I thought the TV was worth it. On the other hand if switches and splitters don't work then it would very much affect my buying decision between a Panasonic and LG.
    Please could you advice if HDMI switches and splitters actually work and whether you'd consider a group test in future? Thank you :)