Panasonic TX-55LZ2000 4K OLED TV Review

hccbestbuybadgev3With a brighter OLED panel and upgraded Atmos sound system, the LZ2000 delivers on all fronts, says Steve May

I've seen marble less polished than Panasonic's new LZ2000 4K HDR OLED. This update on what has been a consistently impressive flagship TV design for the brand, with its signature rear-mounted height and side speakers, builds on what has gone before, but further refines picture and sound performance with less obvious upgrades.

Panasonic has long pushed the picture envelope for OLED, but this year it can claim a significant advance, thanks to an overall boost in image brightness that better positions OLED as a rival to LED LCD when it comes to bright-room viewing.

The screen is built around the latest OLED EX panel design from LG Display, augmented with a proprietary heatsink plus custom modifications inside the cell itself. The LZ2000's heatsink literally drains heat away from the panel, to maximise brightness headroom. Panasonic has been using this style of heat management on its high-end OLED models since 2019.

The brand also carries out pixel-by-pixel uniformity compensation on this particular high-end display. There's clearly a lot of black box R&D at work behind the scenes.

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Panasonic's beam-forming Front Line Array features 15 drivers...

Full-Frontal Audio
Yet the LZ2000 story isn't just one of improved brightness. Sound also gets an uplift. New for 2022 is an advanced front array speaker system that introduces novel sound steering technology, where beam forming allows the user to steer the output left or right, to better serve a particular listening position.

This sonic steerage is surprisingly effective. Using an onscreen graphic, you can point the output from a centre default either left or right (it doesn't work with Dolby Atmos audio), so you can favour one seating area over another. This could be helpful if you have a large open-plan space, or – for some reason – your chosen seating position is off-axis. Maybe the dog has claimed the sweet spot.

Unfortunately, all this cutting-edge tech doesn't come cheap. The 55in TX-55LZ2000 reviewed here is listed at £2,299. If you want a bigger version, there are 65in and 77in models (the first such mega-sized OLED from the brand), priced at £2,899, and £4,299 respectively.

It's worth noting that if you crave the panel advances showcased on the LZ2000, but already have an external sound system, Panasonic is offering the slightly more affordable LZ1500 series, which boasts an identical Master OLED Pro panel and processor combo, in a wider range of screen sizes.

Strike A Pose
This TV's design borders on classic. Much like its predecessor, the LZ2000 strikes an elegant pose, with a thin screen-wrap (there's no real bezel to speak of) and central stand. Disappointingly, the stand doesn't swivel, although from the look of it you'll think it should.

It's not the slimmest of televisions, mainly because it's carrying a boat-load of speakers on its back.

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Desktop stand is slim, keeping the screen low

How good is the LZ2000's 360° Soundscape Pro audio? Well, I momentarily wondered if I'd switched on my AVR, the output is so prodigious. Total amp power is quoted at 150W, which – even given some marketing hyperbole – is undeniably tasty. The sound system, which claims Technics tuning, is optimised by a Space Tune auto audio calibration routine. As part of the setup process, this measures your room with a series of chirps, using the set's built-in microphone. Once calibrated, I noted tangible depth to the bass, and a soundstage with impressive height and width. The sonic upscaler in the LZ2000 deserves some props. I settled down to watch Alice Cooper Live at Hellfest 2022 (on the ARTE app, available on the TV), and was taken aback at just how expansive it sounded. The Auto AI sound mode (Standard, Music, Speech, Stadium and User are other options) had taken the stereo feed and routed it through all of the set's speakers. It was full-bodied and exciting.

The LZ2000's connectivity is good, with reservations. Of the four HDMI inputs, only two support High Frame Rate (HFR) 4K/120 video and VRR, and there's eARC on one of these. All four have ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) support. These HDMIs are joined by a trio of USB ports, digital optical audio output, AV minijack in, headphone/subwoofer minijack out and Ethernet. Wireless connectivity is provided by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and the TV has both terrestrial Freeview HD and satellite tuners.

Panasonic's remote control is weighty compared to most wands, but feels good in the hand. Dedicated buttons unlock Netflix, Rakuten TV, Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube and Freeview Play.

Sustained Beauty
I've always been enamoured of Panasonic's video processing, which has historically managed to balance colour, tone and detail to almost beatific levels. Here, helped by those advances in panel technology, it offers more: a sustained level of luminosity more easily appreciated in normal (as opposed to blacked out) viewing conditions. Colour volume has been enlarged for greater nuance and pop, particularly when it comes to blue hues. Final colour tuning has been overseen by Hollywood colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld. Good to know Panasonic is keeping him gainfully employed.

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