With this new high-end TV, the Japanese manufacturer wants to set the bar very high by incorporating in this model a very good 55-inch OLED panel and a sound bar Technics 80 watts. Is that enough?
Presented at CES earlier this year, the Panasonic TX-55FZ950 is now available for sale. We were eager to test this 55-inch that relies on technologies and equipment borrowed from the highest-end Panasonic models so far, the EZ1000 . 10-bit Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels) OLED slab, Absolute Black processing, 80-watt Technics soundbar … the FZ950 even offers HDR10 compatibility. Panasonic is also touting its HCX image processing processor for Hollywood Cinema eXperience, which would deliver colors similar to cinematographic color spaces. Let’s see what it really is.
Like LG OLED TVs, the TX-55FZ950 has a very thin slab in its upper part … and very fragile. It is therefore necessary to be doubly vigilant when handling. In this version with the soundbar, it is better to take your time and follow the instructions to the letter to mount the various elements.
No big problem so far. As long as you are two, everything should be fine. It is even appreciated that Panasonic provides all the necessary caches to make the connectivity invisible. Once everything is assembled, the result is impeccable.
High level contrast
No need to beat around the bush, the OLED is magic and this is also the case on this model of the Japanese manufacturer. From the first content viewed, we can only be struck by the perfect rendering of the black, by the dynamism that the image releases as well as by the wide range of colors. At first glance, the color fidelity is very good … at first glance only.
Indeed, while we take full eyes in the practical tests, our probe reveals that the calibration of the cinema mode of this 55 inches is not as impeccable as that of TVs LG whose settings frottage perfection.
However, if our probe points a slight defect in terms of color fidelity, the colorimetry of this Panasonic will be no doubt perfect by most viewers. Moreover, the most demanding among them can always browse one of the twelve video modes to find the one that is best. Dynamic, Normal, Cinema, Real Cinema, Custom, Professional 1 and 2, Sports, Games, THX Bright Room … but according to our probe it is the THX Cinema mode that is the most accurate.
The HCX processor from Panasonic also knows how to sublimate the image of a source Full HD to adapt it to this big slab 4K. Whether to watch a program on TNT or play on the XBox One, at no time were we faced with an unpleasant rendering. On the contrary we appreciate the dynamics and the fluidity of the image. The management of digital noise on degraded sources is also one of the strengths of this processor that prefers to smooth somewhat the rendering rather than force the outlines, as to add sharpness. The noise is contained and the picture finally softer.
Of course, with UHD content, a 4K HDR series on Netflix, for example, on this 55-inch TV, the quality goes up a notch yet. It’s a feast for the eyes … to a detail, however.
Average brightness and too many reflections
In our test setup, TVs are installed and evaluated in bright rooms near windows. In other words, they are subject to the reflections of light. And the problem with this Panasonic is that it turns out to be a real mirror. Therefore, the average brightness of this 55 inches, measured at 294 cd / m² in cinema mode, is not enough to compensate for this type of defect.
Watching a movie or series with a lot of dark scenes can really be a problem. In this case, watching Jessica Jones on Netflix in the middle of the day (a series with often very dark plans), is almost a feat in a veranda. Using Dynamic mode (the brightest) will help a little, without a miracle. However, we are aware that our test is done in extreme conditions because the sun floods the room.
A soundbar that makes the difference
In addition to the twelve preconfigured video modes, there are five audio modes: standard, music, speech, stage and user. This last mode allows, as the name implies, to create a custom configuration to get the most out of the integrated soundbar.
Produced by Technics, a subsidiary of Panasonic, this four-channel system delivers a maximum power of 80 watts. It allows you to take full advantage of its multimedia content without additional equipment.
Obviously, spatialization is not as effective as with a hi-fi system with satellites. However, the fact that the bar is slightly inclined upward creates an interesting surround effect provided however to push a little volume for the sound spreads. An option is also available in the TV’s menus to get the most out of this surround effect.
All the options presented here are also remarkably efficient. To bring some dynamism and warmth to the sound, just activate the “bass boost”, choose the “Surround Cinema Pro” and play a little with the options of the equalizer.
Let’s finish on the audio part by saying that the TV is compatible with a bi-directional Bluetooth. In transmitter mode, it is possible to connect a headset, for example, by cutting the volume of the soundbar for individual listening. Conversely, the receiver mode allows you to broadcast the sound of your mobile (Spotify, for example) to the soundbar. Finally in theory, because we did not succeed with our smartphone.
It’s urgent to switch to Android
Panasonic has decided to integrate Firefox OS TV from Mozilla into some of these TVs, including this TX-55FZ950. The good news is that this operating system is very fluid and that Panasonic has taken care, as we said above, to add all the image and audio settings to meet the expectations of moviegoers.
On the other hand, on the application side, it’s pretty thin. There is naturally Netflix – with a shortcut key on the remote – YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, the replay of Arte, Deezer, Plex and even Viera Link that allows you to stream content over Wi-Fi from your smartphone. But that’s about all there is interesting.
FireOS also offers a voice recognition function … nevertheless far behind what the competition offers, especially on webOS or TizenOS . The recognition function is activated exclusively on smaller of the two remote controls delivered. Only this one has the microphone. With a simple press of the dedicated button, it becomes possible to adjust the volume, search on YouTube or the Internet, access the TV guide, switch channels or turn off the TV.
|Diagonal screen (cm)||139 cm|
|HD Label||4K Ultra HD|
|Screen definition||3840 x 2160 pixels|
|Aspect of the slab||bright|