Panasonic has finally taken the wraps off the rest of its 2023 TV range, having previously announced only the flagship MZ2000 OLED model. In total, the range includes five OLED and two LCD models, and there is clearly a heavy focus on picture authenticity not just for movies, which is what you would expect from the brand, but also for games.
On the movie front, Panasonic is using its new HCX Pro AI processor to deliver what it describes as an improved Filmmaker Mode. The improvement? Automatic picture adjustment based on ambient conditions. So if the amount or colour of the light in the room changes, the picture will alter accordingly so that what you see is consistent with the Filmmaker Mode goal of delivering creative intent.
For gaming, there’s a new True Game Mode that is designed to give games the sort of colour accuracy for which Panasonic is renowned with movies. This mode can also be fully calibrated using the Calman calibration system, should you wish to go down that route (or pay someone else to go down that route for you). Our hope is that this True Game Mode will be accurate enough not to require professional calibration, but that’s something we will have to test once we get the new sets in for review.
Gamers should also benefit from source-oriented HDR tone-mapping, which should behave much as the HGiG setting on TVs that have one (Panasonic doesn’t believe in HGiG as a format in its own right), and G-Sync certification for some models.
Unfortunately, none of the new models has more than two HDMI 2.1 sockets, and while Dolby Vision gaming is supported, it’s only up to 60Hz (the TV will otherwise support 4K/120Hz gaming). In other words, LG’s TVs are still the best-specified TVs for gaming, but Panasonic’s aim of delivering greater authenticity for games will certainly resonate with some people.
Our hope had been that the step-down MZ1500 model would lose the sound system but keep the MLA tech so that buyers would be able to purchase Panasonic’s flagship picture performance without having to pay for audio tech that they might not want to use, but alas, that doesn’t appear to be what we are getting.
While MLA appears to be off the menu for the MZ1500, it does boast what Panasonic calls a 'Master OLED Pro panel module'. We understand that this means it uses LG Display’s OLED EX panel and has been subjected to an extra development process by Panasonic in Japan. The company says that this delivers ‘enhanced brightness, leading to a superior dynamic contrast and viewing experience.’
Like the MZ2000, the MZ1500 features the new HCX Pro AI processor, which means it gets the new adaptive Filmmaker Mode and True Game Mode. And while it doesn’t have the up-firing drivers of the flagship set, it does have a dedicated forward-firing soundbar-like speaker system.
The MZ1500 will be available in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes, whereas the MZ980 model will come in 42, 48 and 55 inches. This model, which is exclusive to the UK (mainland Europe will instead get an MZ1000 model), appears to feature an OLED EX panel from LG but isn’t designated as Master OLED Pro, which we believe means it won’t go as bright as the MZ1500.
The MZ980 does feature the HCX Pro AI processor, though, so will benefit from all of the advanced movie and game features of its more expensive siblings. That could make it a particularly strong choice for gamers on a budget.
The final two OLED models in Panasonic’s 2023 range are the MZ800 and MZ700, but they differ only in terms of where they can be bought (the MZ700 will be exclusive to an as-yet unspecified retailer) and the sound system (the MZ800 has a subwoofer that the MZ700 apparently does not). Otherwise, these are both TVs with step-down panels and processing, so they won’t go as bright as the other models in the range and they lack the active Filmmaker Mode and the True Game Mode. HDMI 2.1 is mentioned in the announcement but specific gaming features are not. We have asked Panasonic for clarification and will update this page once we get it.
One interesting aspect of the MZ800 and MZ700 is that they feature the Google TV operating system rather than Panasonic’s own MyHomeScreen 8.0. Is this a sign of things to come from Panasonic? Both models will be available in 42, 48, 55 and 65 inches.
Switching to non-OLEDs, the MX950 appears to be, broadly, the LCD equivalent to the MZ1500 OLED. It features a Quantum Dot panel and Mini LED backlighting, and the HCX Pro AI processor means it will deliver all of the adaptive picture processing and the True Game Mode of the premium OLED sets in the range.
Finally, there is the MX800 which, rather surprisingly, uses Amazon’s Fire TV platform. There are no Quantum Dots or Mini LEDs here. This appears to be a set about content delivery rather than advanced hardware. Still, if Panasonic can bring its trademark authenticity to the affordable Fire TV market, it could be a winner.
We haven't as yet been given any pricing or availability information for any of the models in Panasonic’s 2023 TV range, but we have asked for that information and will add it to this piece as and when we get it.
Check out our hands-on of the Panasonic MZ2000
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