As expected, Panasonic has used CES 2024 to unveil its new flagship TV; and, despite appearances, it’s one with a few surprises.
First, the name. Panasonic’s OLEDs have long followed a very specific formula, with its last three flagship sets named, from older to last year’s, the JZ2000, LZ2000 and MZ2000. This year’s flagship, though, is the Z95A – a name that sounds somehow more dynamic, but is also very similar to that of Sony’s A95L and Samsung’s S95C.
- First look: Panasonic Z95A hands-on review
The second, bigger surprise is that Panasonic has finally jettisoned its own My Home Screen operating system in favour of Amazon’s Fire OS. This isn’t the first time that Panasonic has launched a Fire OS TV – it has tested the water with some lower-end models over the past couple of years – but it is the first time it has been used on a flagship set.
This feels like a good move, as Panasonic’s My Home Screen system, while snappy and user-friendly, has traditionally lacked an occasional streaming service or two; that certainly shouldn’t be the case now as Fire OS is very well appointed.
Brighter, faster and with 144Hz support
Panasonic also claims that the Z95A will be brighter than the outgoing MZ2000. The company says it has achieved this through 'improvements to the driving technology' and a 'multi-layer heat management configuration'. Seeing as the core OLED-plus-MLA panel technology appears to be the same as before (Panasonic is using the same ‘Master OLED Ultimate’ designation as it did last year), we’re not expecting the brightness increase to be huge and Panasonic hasn’t released any specific figures; but the MZ2000 was already a very bright (and sharp and detailed) TV, so a small boost is all that really feels necessary.
The Z95A features a new processor, too, the HCX Pro AI Processor MK II, which brings with it something that Panasonic is calling the ‘4K Remaster Engine’. The company says that this uses AI and ‘mathematical models’ to ‘elevate streaming picture clarity’. It also claims that gradation has also been improved to reduce branding.
The new processor also powers an upgrade from Dolby Vision IQ to Dolby Vision IQ with Precision Detail, which should result in a slightly crisper Dolby Vision performance, plus support for 144Hz gaming, including in Dolby Vision.
Unfortunately, the Z95A still has just two HDMI 2.1 sockets, which is a real shame, but this 144Hz support will be appealing to hardcore PC gamers with serious rigs (consoles can't currently output beyond 120Hz). VRR and ALLM are also of course supported, and the ‘Game Control Board’ pop-up menu for gaming settings has been updated.
Interestingly, the Panasonic announcement makes no mention of upgrades to the sound system, with the copy and pictures suggesting that it has the same multi-speaker, Technics-tuned Dolby Atmos system as before. If true, that would be a slight shame: the MZ2000's sound system is broadly very good by TV audio standards but it could do with some fine-tuning if the Z95A is to beat the Sony A95L for sound quality.
The Z95A will be available in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes. There will also be a 77-inch variant called the Z93A, which lacks the smaller models' brightness-boosting MLA tech (and is therefore designated Master OLED Pro rather than Ultimate) but is otherwise the same. No prices or release dates have been revealed but last year the MZ2000 took until August to arrive in shops, so don’t expect to be able to buy a Z95A or Z93A any time soon.
We should be getting some hands-on time with the set shortly, though, and will of course report our findings forthwith.
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The one to beat – check out our Sony A95L review