Panasonic JZ1000 OLED TV REVIEW
From $2529 (48-inch model)
Time for a new TV panel? PAT PILCHER reviews an absolute winner in its class: an affordable Panasonic that’s a great all-rounder.
OLED TVs. They offer up incredible contrast and tanning clinic brightness levels, combined with super-vivid colour and a dollop of 4K goodness for good measure. What’s not to like? This time around, it’s Panasonic’s turn with the well-regarded JZ1000 4K OLED telly.
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Given the hype surrounding new TV releases, it’s surprising that the JZ1000 doesn’t have a bigger following. It’s got lots to recommend it. At the time of writing, the 48-inch model retails for a very reasonable NZ$2529, and then there’s its design. While not the most exciting, it’s definitely well thought through. The screen bezels are slim and not distracting, the cabinet stand on the 55-inch and larger models is solid and doesn’t need a wide surface – which proved to be a good thing as less clutter needed to be moved to accommodate the review unit. It also swivels 30 degrees, so it can be easily repositioned. The stand is a sterling example of simple but well-executed engineering that seems to be constantly missed by other TV makers. the 48” has a what Panny call the ‘flexible’ pedestal. It’s traditional feet, but they’ve also got a clever trick – they move in and out and can raise the TV height up and down.
Around the back, there’s plenty of connectivity. You get 4 HDMI inputs, all of which support Auto Low Latency Mode and HDMI 2.1. Several support Variable Refresh Rate and 4K High Frame Rate, while one has eARC compatibility. For hooking up next-gen games consoles, media centres and other HDMI doodahs, there’s plenty on offer. There are also three USB inputs (one USB 3, two USB 2), an Ethernet port and antenna sockets for UHF or satellite Freeview TV. On the wireless front, you get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Last but by no means least, there’s also SPIDIF and a 3.5mm analogue socket for wired headphones.
The 55-inch and 65-inch JZ1000 models uses what Panasonic calls ‘Master HDR OLED’. All models also have Panasonic’s HCX Pro AI processing engine. Panasonic earns major brownie points for supporting all major HDR standards. This means that no matter what streaming services or playback media you subscribe to or use, you’ll always get the best image possible. Supported HDR formats include HLG, HDR10, HDR10+, HDR10+ Adaptive and Dolby Vision. This is something that LG, Samsung and Sony should be taking notice of and emulating. There’s also a bevvy of video modes. An integrated light sensor means Dolby Vision IQ, Dolby Vision Vivid and Dolby Vision Dark are available too.
Panasonic also wins plaudits with their on-screen user interface, which is clearly laid out, intuitive and above all, simple to use. The selection of apps is pretty good too. Unlike many other smart TVs shipping in the NZ market, Panasonic has taken the time to localise things by pre-installing apps such as Spark Sport, Sky Sport Now, Neon, TVNZ On Demand and Freeview. All major streaming services were present, including Disney+.
Navigating your way around on-screen is done using what could be the largest remote control I’ve seen with a TV in recent times. Where LG’s gyro driven and on-screen pointer makes for a less cluttered remote, the JZ1000’s clicker is a chonker. There’s always an upside, and in this case, the remote will be difficult to lose. Its buttons are also sufficiently big and well labelled that reaching for your glasses before picking up the remote isn’t necessary. It was dead easy to use with no learning curve required for anyone who has used a TV clicker before. Rounding things out, Panasonic has also incorporated voice control, so Alexa can drive your TV when you can’t be arsed picking up the remote.
Designing a TV that’s intuitive to customise for the average user isn’t easy. Yet, Panasonic seems to have struck a happy medium. The set-up menus are thorough, but they’re sufficiently intuitive that tweaking the picture and sound won’t require a PhD from the University of geekology. That said, there’s plenty of options available if you need them.
Panasonic also delivers when it comes to on-screen, peeper pleasing pictures. The sheer depth and detail driven by the excellent contrast levels kick viewing up a bazillion notches. It isn’t just contrast levels, either. The JZ1000 is also searingly bright compared to many other OLED TVs I’ve reviewed, which helps on-screen details pop. Its colours are vivid, yet they feel accurate too. While native 4K content is stunning, 1080p and, 720p HD content was good rather than great. HD Contrast levels are good, as is colour, but finer details were ever so slightly off in some cases. That said, the differences were so subtle that they’d be unnoticeable for most viewers.
Surprisingly the JZ1000 uses just two 30-watt drivers. By default, the audio they output lacked in dynamics. A quick trip into the audio settings soon had a considerably richer sound emitting. Still, it seems odd that the out of box audio settings needed to be tweaked. It’s not all bad though. For a start, there’s space below the bottom of the screen for a soundbar, and eARC support provides a low-fuss way to get both sound and video data into a home theatre amp.
Considering its very reasonable sticker price, the JZ1000 represents solid value for money. If watching streamed 4K content is your thing, its extensive HDR support and excellent native 4K image processing makes it a solid choice. For Xbox series X or PS5 gamers, HDMI 2.1 along with Variable Refresh Rate and 4K High Frame Rate support makes the JZ1000 a complete no-brainer. Given its price tag, features and well-executed design, it scores a perfect 10/10