The new vintage of Panasonic OLEDs does not change the fundamental recipe of the Japanese manufacturer. And that’s good. Indeed, the GZ2000 released in 2019 was by all accounts one of the best TVs of the year. This image quality, Panasonic uses it on its HZ1500 by offering, in addition, some very nice features.
Design: a swivel foot to stand out
Panasonic is not particularly well known for its bold design. On televisions this is all the more glaring as the aesthetic prospects are limited by a well-established form factor. As a result, the HZ1500 is classic even if the integration of the audio part (in the lower part and on the back of the TV) is very neat. Where the Japanese manufacturer seeks to stand out, it is on the foot. This adopts a cylindrical shape and allows the TV to pivot on its base.
We of course appreciate the fact that Panasonic offers this option to its users, but it is clear that it will only convince a tiny fraction of its customers. Indeed, the orientable screen solution has already been proposed in the past by many manufacturers without being imposed because in fact, it is very rare to need to change the orientation of your TV.
Image quality: among the best
The 2019 GZ2000 arguably offered the best image quality (without calibration) of the latest generation OLEDs. Less upscale than its glorious predecessor, the HZ1500 obviously takes advantage of the brand’s know-how to magnify the image without betraying it. As often, we advise you to adopt the “real cinema” mode which does not go overboard in terms of image processing and which offers colors very faithful to reality. This accuracy is of course verified in the measurements carried out by our laboratory (in gray fidelity the delta E in Rec. 709 displays a value of 2.21 and the color fidelity even drops to 1.76).
So, it’s legitimate to wonder where the difference lies between the GZ2000, Panasonic’s flagship last year, and the all-new HZ1500. As so often, it is HDR content that acts as a justice of the peace. And for good reason, their rendering is directly conditioned by the capacities of televisions in terms of brightness. In this game, the GZ2000 is almost unrivaled and it is therefore not surprising that an HZ1500 with a more limited light peak (579 cd / m2 all the same), cannot stand up to it. However, the performance of this new OLED in HDR is very satisfactory and confirms the strategic choice of Panasonic to fully play the card of this format. Indeed, the Japanese manufacturer was the first to offer compatibility with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 +.
Finally, like most of this year’s high-end TVs, the HZ1500 offers an automatic brightness adjustment feature. Dolby Vision IQ technology is in the spotlight here, but like its rivals, its performance is sometimes puzzling. We therefore recommend that you opt for fixed settings and deactivate this option.
Interface: when is the change coming?
Time does not matter, Panasonic still has not decided to revise its interface. At the same time, Android TV, Web OS and even Tizen are progressing at high speed. Consequence: in terms of interface, Panasonic now seems largely outdated. It starts with the installation of the TV with menus from another era.
Unfortunately this installation menu gives way to a somewhat uninspired My Home Screen 5.0 system. Granted, Panasonic’s home interface is pretty clear and fairly comprehensive for image enthusiasts who want to play around with its settings. But for the common people, despite some slight improvements, it will appear very dull against Android TV or Web OS. Finally, it seems inconceivable to us for a high-end TV of 2020 not to have Disney + or MyCanal. This lack forces the user to invest in an additional case, be it a Google Chromecast or an Apple TV, and only underscores the growing gap between Panasonic and its competitors.
Audio: it’s serious
On the other hand, on the audio part, the results are more than satisfactory for this HZ1500. If the technical sheet proudly displays the Dolby Atmos logo, we should obviously not expect audio performance in rooms equipped with this technology. Nonetheless, this compatibility, made possible by the upward-facing speakers at the rear of the TV, allows the HZ1500 to perform quite well on the available Dolby Atmos content.
This is particularly the case with The Joker’s soundtrack which sounds particularly good on the Panasonic OLED. But then again, while the rendering is nice, it has little to do with a proper Dolby Atmos installation. Despite everything, the care taken by the Japanese manufacturer to its television on the audio part allows this model to be among those which offer the best sound reproduction currently.
What about the game?
OLED technology requires, the HZ1500 has some natural skills appreciated by gamers. Deep blacks, infinite contrast, but also an input lag (latency) of only 22 ms and the famous HDMI 2.1. One downside, however, HDMI 2.1 compatibility, which makes it possible to reach 120 Hz in 4K, is not complete. We must therefore forget this possibility, even though features such as ALLM (Auto low latency mode) are well in the game.
In other words, while it can’t compete with an LG CX when it comes to gaming, Panasonic’s latest OLED is still a great TV to enjoy your PS5 or Xbox Series X.