Panasonic TX-48JZ980 48in 4K HDR OLED TV Review

hccbestbuybadgev3Be you an avid gamer or film fan, this 48in OLED TV has what it takes to impress, says Steve May

Back when HCC was fresh of face, Star Wars was a trilogy and the Marvel Cinematic Universe had peaked at Howard the Duck, the very thought of a 48in TV would have blown my mind. A 36in set was typically as large as you could get back then, and even that would have required a van full of mates just to get it out of the box. An ultra-thin 48-incher would have been the screen of dreams, home cinema nirvana.

How things change. This bijou beauty is notable now because it's so small, positively dwarfed by its 55in and 65in OLED stablemates.

Of course, while relatively diminutive, it still comes with a significant price ticket, marginally more expensive than rival 48in models from Sony and LG. The JZ980 may be Panasonic's entry-level OLED range, but it's still premium, as evidenced by both its inclusive specification and its level of performance.

In addition to this 48in model, the JZ980 series has 55in and 65in offerings priced £1,600 and £2,000 respectively.

Many potential buyers will head straight to those, but should you be looking to downsize your cinematic aspirations and embrace the Quantum realm, what does this set have to offer?

Return To Sensor
Well, first off, picture credentials are impressive. Like the rest of Panasonic's 2021 OLEDs, HDR support is comprehensive, with Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive covered, as well as regular HDR and HLG.

Both HDR10+ Adaptive and Dolby Vision IQ take advantage of the set's onboard sensor to adjust picture parameters and counter the ambient lighting in your viewing room.

The idea is to maintain contrast without crushing black level detail, ideal for when you decide to cram in a screening of the The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (Netflix, Dolby Vision) between Tipping Point and Pointless. It works well, preserving the layered contrast and shadow detail that distinguishes The Witcher toon's forest opening sequence, without compromising brighter highlights like a glinting raven's eye and flickering orange torches.

1221panasonic.side300Industry-standard Filmmaker Mode also benefits from such dynamic adjustment, here dubbed Intelligent Sensing, making HDR content less of a murk when viewed in daylight.

Powering everything along is Panasonic's latest HCX Pro AI Processor. A step-change for Panasonic, the silicon is key to this year's improved feature set. Without the extra horsepower it provides, the screen wouldn't be able to implement high-frame-rate playback.

Smarts are handled by the sixth generation of Panasonic's My Home Screen. We've covered this at length before, suffice to say it's the best iteration yet, offering a welcome degree of Home Page customisation without button bloat.

The JZ980 is well appointed when it comes to catch-up and streaming choices. Freeview Play is available to sate your mainstream channel needs (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 and UKTVPlay), while My Home Screen adds Netflix, Amazon Prime, Rakuten TV and BritBox. And during my audition, Disney+ was finally added to the roster. We don't know why it took so long to arrive, but we're glad it did.

The set comes with a lightweight remote control that has dedicated buttons for Netflix, Rakuten TV and Prime Video.

In addition to voice control for Google Assistant and Alexa, there's also Easy Mirroring for smartphones, via Chromecast. Even the most demanding of connected viewers should be satisfied.

What, No Swivel?
The overall set design is elegant and classy. The style is classic Panasonic, more business than smart casual. A dark-grey micro bezel frames the picture, while a pair of mid-placed slot-in boots keep it upright. I would have liked to have seen a swivel pedestal, a feature Panasonic seems to think only makes sense on its 55in and 65in OLEDs, but at least this will sit comfortably on most AV-centric furniture.

It's not overly slim though. As the 48in OLED panel barely extends beyond the main electronic chassis, it looks a little dumpy. No doubt its larger siblings, with a rather more visible panel area, will seem a little slimmer.

Connectivity is on point. Two of the four HDMI inputs support v2.1 features like 4K 120Hz video playback, VRR and eARC. PC fans will doubtless be chuffed that the screen is also AMD FreeSync Premium certified. There's also ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) game mode support.