LCD technology still has a lot to say in the segment of televisions, but more and more companies are betting on the advantages offered by the OLED panels of LG Display as is the case of Panasonic, which has already released its first OLED television, the 65CZ950, by the end of 2015. Now the Japanese company returns to the load with a new and improved OLED that gives up the curve and adds HDR technology.
Panasonic has chosen the CES fair framework to officially introduce the new OLED 4K Pro HDR EZ1000, a high-end TV with the latest image enhancements we could see in action at the Panasonic factory in Pilsen at the beginning of last December. 65-inch, 4K resolution, HDR and built-in soundbar in the base are some of its arguments. This is the new Panasonic proposal in the growing OLED segment.
The OLED paves the way
The deployment of OLED TVs is being a slow process for several reasons, but little by little, more models are added to the offer of this technology. One of the factors that slows its progress is its high price compared to traditional LCD.
In addition, LCDs have improved greatly in terms of quality, which makes the transition to OLED not so necessary. However, it is expected that in 2017, brands will start betting more forcefully by this technology and Panasonic brings us one of the first fruits of this change.
Panasonic makes clear that its intention is to continue betting by the OLED with a television that aims very high
As we said, the brand has already been released with this technology a little over a year and, although the LCD remains the protagonist of most models in its catalog, Panasonic makes clear that its intention is to continue betting on this technology with a television OLED pointing very high.
Jumping the OLED Obstacles
The Panasonic proposal focuses on solving one of the most common problems of OLED screens and key in the integration of the HDR: the level of brightness. In the case of LCD panels, the HDR playback standard says that the maximum brightness peak must reach at least 1,000 nits, while in the OLED it must be at least 540 nits.
If you look at the characteristics of the new Panasonic OLED, the brightness is around 800 nits, a figure that surpasses that minimum that marks the industry. For example, we have the model of last year, whose level of brightness stays in 450 nits.
On the other hand, the depth of blacks is one of the main advantages of OLED panels versus LCDs, but at the same time it is a problem when reproducing details in the darkest areas. Panasonic saves this stumbling block with the processing of the Studio Color HCX2 chip.
Panasonic has focused on solving the usual problems of OLED: increase the level of brightness and preserve the detail in the darkest areas
During our visit to the Panasonic factory in Czech Republic we could see in action a prototype of the new model and indeed managed to keep detail in the darkest areas, always compared to the previous model.
Another drawback that derives from the depth of blacks in OLEDs is that some panels tend to generate a dominant magenta by looking at them in bright rooms. Panasonic solves this problem with the ‘Absolute black’ filter, which also helps to minimize the reflections of possible light sources.
But the difference between maximum brightness and pure black is not the only requirement for the HDR, color is also very important and, according to Panasonic, the EZ1000 can reproduce 98% of the DCI color space compared to 90% of the previous model.
In addition, they have included some specific options such as the ability to upload a custom color profile and compatibility with the ISF and Portrait Displays CaiMAN calibration settings, although they are functions that are not intended for the average user.
With respect to the content, the TV is compatible with the standard Hybric Log Gamma HDR, essential for the reproduction of HDR contents, which are expected to begin to arrive during the same year to the different platforms.
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Sound as the protagonist of the design
As we said, on our visit to the Panasonic plant in Pilsen we were able to see the brand new OLED in operation. However, being a prototype, we did not see what would be its definitive design, but we did know that sound would occupy a special place in its appearance.
Panasonic bets on a design that wants to pretend that the screen is floating by holding only at a point in the center of the base. The proposal is original, although it does not seem compatible with attaching the panel to the wall.
The base is pretty big, but it has a reason and is that it acts as a sound bar. This piece houses 14 units: eight woofers, four media loudspeakers and two treble tweeters, plus a passive radiator.
Software: Firefox OS, the pending subject
One of the weaknesses of the first Panasonic OLED was that it did not focus on Firefox OS, the system that the brand passed a while ago, but continued to integrate Smart Viera, the previous platform.
Panasonic has corrected the error in this model, but the software is still a pending issue. The Smart TV platform was one of the aspects we were able to test on the spot during our visit to the brand’s factory and left us quite cold, especially after seeing a hardware level of this equipment.
However, there are some changes, although do not expect great news. The most important is the option to create folders on the home screen to be able to group icons. In addition, the remote control has the My App button to access a favorite app with one touch. The integrated player has also been upgraded to support the standard HDR10 and Hybrid Log Gamma.
It is expected that the Panasonic EZ1000 will be available in June this year, but at the moment there is no information on its price. However, seeing the characteristics of the presumed and knowing the price of the previous model, surely will be planted in several thousand dollars. In short, a high-end television for lovers of the best image quality, but not for all budgets.