Just hours after we published our five-star review of Panasonic’s 2022 flagship OLED TV, calling the LZ2000 “as cinematic as it gets”, we found ourselves in front of its 2023 successor – the MZ2000.
The only TV Panasonic unveiled at CES 2023 (it tends to announce its full lineup in the spring), the MZ2000 represents the pinnacle of Panasonic TV for 2023 and builds on last year’s LZ2000 with a new OLED panel that benefits from Micro Lens Array (MLA) technology (more on that later) and a new thermal management system, a revised Dolby Atmos speaker system with new sound modes and processing upgrades aimed at gaming.
But where there’s evolution there’s also familiarity: the operating system is much the same as last year’s, as is the physical design and especially the speaker hardware. That’s not a bad thing at all, given the overall quality of the LZ2000, which we highly complimented for its “commitment to image authenticity and consistency paired with that spacious and atmospheric sound to create one of the most cinematic all-in-one solutions.” that money can buy.” And because of the timing of our review, we said that after we had seen the 2022 flagships of most of the rival brands…
Panasonic looks set to repeat that success with the MZ2000, and while it’ll be a few months before we can take it 12 rounds to find out for ourselves, we’ve already been lucky enough to visit a few thanks to demonstrations at CES 2023.
‘Micro Lens Array’ are three words we’ve heard quite a bit this CES, with LG Display developing it as a solution to boost the brightness of its 2023 OLED panels used by the LG G3 and Panasonic MZ2000. Essentially, the technology contains billions of micrometer-sized convex lenses — 27 billion of them on a 65-inch panel! – over the pixels of the OLED panel to capture and refocus some of the light that is usually lost due to the use of a color filter by OLED panels. The result is a significantly brighter image, addressing one of the inherent problems of previous OLED panels. In fact, Panasonic says this has helped the MZ2000 have a 50 per cent increase in peak brightness over last year’s models, as well as an overall improvement in average brightness with HDR content.
During the demonstration, Panasonic measured the peak brightness of the MZ2000 at 1,456 nits, and that of the 2022 LZ2000B sitting next to it at just under 1,000. This is not a difference that can only be seen through measurements, mind you. Panasonic flipped through several moving images and the increased brightness of the new model was very apparent, with more fine detail too. And if you’re wondering whether this increased brightness will affect the deep black intensity for which OLED has always been praised, it shouldn’t (and certainly didn’t appear to be the case). As long as Panasonic hasn’t stepped back in any other area, the MZ2000 looks set to be a winner.
Panasonic isn’t just taking the LG Display OLED panel, sticking it on two legs and, of course, slapping a Panasonic badge on the front. It uses its own HCX Pro AI processor and technologies (including a brand new thermal management system developed by Panasonic) to drive and manipulate the screen as you wish – all combining to create what Panasonic calls the ‘Master OLED Ultimate’. Somewhat unusually, though, while the 55-inch and 65-inch MZ2000 fly the flag for this ‘Master OLED Ultimate’, the 77-inch model has a different (‘Master OLED Pro Cinema’) panel that actually omits the MLA technology . and uses a different heat sink than the one in its smaller siblings.
Panasonic is one of the few TV brands to step up when it comes to integrated speakers on its flagship TVs, and it hasn’t changed its tact for the MZ2000. It also has an exposed speaker bar mounted below the length of the screen, backed by dedicated side and upward firing speakers encased in pretty thick (by today’s standards) housing mounted on the back of the TV.
While the Technics-tuned, Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker system hardware has barely been revised, Panasonic says it’s revised that front speaker array for a wider soundstage, so we can expect sound output at least as grand, open and atmospheric as that of the LZ2000B. . We can bet that upgrade also improved clarity and immediacy (two areas where the LZ2000B was beaten by rivals), as this isn’t something we couldn’t gauge in our demo.
What some may find useful are the three new sound modes that let you choose whether the MZ2000’s output should be focused on a single point (Pinpoint Mode), shifted to a particular place or group of people (Area Mode), or all at once should be increased in volume. specific spot (Spot mode).
New modes also come to the benefit of gamers. A new True Game mode is supposedly calibrated as carefully as Panasonic’s most authentic movie presets – and is calibratable, with the Calman-calibrated logo displayed loud and proud on the interface. That’s complemented by two does-it-tells-on-the-can game audio modes that seemed effective in our demo: RPG (Role-Playing Game) for more immersion and FPS (First-Person Shooter) for improving gameplay. subtle sounds.
Staying on the gaming front, ALLM and VRR are once again supported, there’s a Dolby Vision game mode that tops out at 60Hz (unfortunately not 120Hz), and G-Sync and Freesync are now on board too. Then again, of the TV’s four HDMI connections, only two are HDMI 2.1 for 4K/120Hz support – two fewer than rival sets from Samsung and LG. One of these sockets is also used for eARC, so if you need that to output sound from the TV to a soundbar or AV amplifier, you’re left with just one top-spec input for a console or gaming PC. Perhaps Panasonic doesn’t expect many people to add an external sound system given the effort it’s put into the integrated system.
The journey from the My Home Screen 7.0 OS to the new 8.0 version on the MZ2000 seems to be largely driven by the arrival of new accessibility features and the ‘my Scenery’ feature which displays a series of images or clips when you’re not. watching TV now includes Dolby Atmos audio accompaniment.
Despite appearing to represent more evolution than revolution, the Panasonic MZ2000 does indeed look promising, especially from an all-important image performance point of view, with the Micro Lens Array technology seemingly effective in improving OLED’s Achilles heel. If it really is, as Panasonic claims, the company’s “best and brightest picture” to date, it’s a good thing to remain competitive at the top of the TV stack this year, thanks to the quality of the LZ2000B on which it builds on.
The MZ2000 will no doubt have better-than-ever LG and Sony OLEDs and Samsung QD OLEDs to compete with, and perhaps won’t be the first choice for die-hard gamers, but early signs are mostly very positive indeed.
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