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Panasonic Oled TV offers stunning visuals

The TV stand for Panasonic's TH-65EZ1000S is designed to lift the screen in order to fit a massive sound bar that is as wide as the TV set underneath it. The TV set can also be mounted on the wall.
The TV stand for Panasonic's TH-65EZ1000S is designed to lift the screen in order to fit a massive sound bar that is as wide as the TV set underneath it. The TV set can also be mounted on the wall.PHOTO: PANASONIC

Panasonic's latest flagship TV set favours substance over style. There's no stunning design to bowl you over, but its lush, vibrant colours and powerful sound bar may overwhelm you visually and aurally.

The 65-inch TH-65EZ1000S is an organic light-emitting diode (Oled) TV set, as Panasonic joins the likes of Sony, LG and Philips in releasing high-end Oled TV sets this year. Like its LG and Sony rivals, the EZ1000S reportedly uses an Oled panel from LG Display.

Its picture quality is, unsurprisingly, similar to that of its Oled rivals with superb viewing angles and excellent reproduction of blacks.

In terms of High Dynamic Range (HDR) - the latest must-have feature in TV technology - the Panasonic supports both the HDR10 standard and the Hybrid Log-Gamma broadcast standard, but not the Dolby Vision format.

To stand out from its competitors, Panasonic has roped in Hollywood experts to tune the EZ1000S to display the most accurate colours. Panasonic claims that it is the company's most colour-accurate TV model.

To watch a movie as the director would have intended it, you should switch the EZ1000S' display profile to True Cinema, which I used to test the TV set. It includes a couple of THX-certified profiles - though, to my eyes, they appear similar to the True Cinema option.

If you are viewing at home in a brightly lit room, you may wish to increase the brightness slightly as these profiles are tuned for dimmer environments.

I am not a fan of the default Normal profile, which enables a hefty dose of motion interpolation, dubbed Intelligent Frame Creation, that makes action scenes more fluid. This hyper-smooth look, also known as the soap-opera effect, feels unnatural to me, but some may prefer it. Putting this setting to Low minimises the soap-opera effect.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $10,999 (65-inch)

    PICTURE FEATURES: Maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, HDR10

    AUDIO FEATURES: 80W output

    OPERATING SYSTEM: My Home Screen 2.0

    CONNECTIVITY: 4 x HDMI, 3 x USB, Digital optical output, Ethernet, Wi-Fi

    RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 5/5

Because it does not need a backlight, the EZ1000S, like other Oled TV sets, is as thin as the latest smartphones with a narrow bezel. It is much thicker near the bottom so as to accommodate the TV's internal electronics and the various ports and connectors.

The TV stand looks complicated to set up. Thankfully, I did not have to do it myself. It is designed to lift the screen in order to fit a massive sound bar that is as wide as the TV set underneath it.

Of course, you can also mount the TV set on the wall.

The sound bar, dubbed Dynamic Blade Speakers, holds 14 speakers tuned by audio brand Technics. It produces clear and detailed audio with a certain amount of depth. At lower volume levels, the dialogue seems to be overwhelmed by the background music.

Oled displays are not as bright as backlit LCD screens. The EZ1000S has received the UHD Premium certification, so it should exceed 540 nits at peak brightness.

But this is far from matching that of top LCD TV sets which can easily top 1,500 nits. Hence, there are certain scenes where I noticed a uniformity of darkness that hints at missing details. For instance, in an interrogation room scene in Netflix's HDR-enabled Daredevil TV series, parts of Matt Murdock's black hair disappear into the shadowed background.

On the other hand, its lower peak brightness means that my eyes need not squint whenever there is a lens flare, which occurs frequently in the Planet Earth II documentary with its numerous sun-dappled scenes. Overall, its picture quality is as good as it gets for a state-of-the- art Oled TV set.

Two remote controls are bundled with the set. I did not like the smaller version that has a touchpad and supports voice controls that were hit-and-miss. I mostly used the larger, traditional remote control with many buttons.

Panasonic continues to build its TV interface on top of the Firefox OS despite the latter ceasing development last year. Dubbed My Home Screen 2.0, this interface feels intimidating to novices, though experienced users may appreciate its customisation options, such as the ability to organise apps into folders.

Unfortunately, the platform has an underwhelming selection of apps. While it offers Netflix and YouTube apps, there is no Amazon Video or Toggle or Spotify, to name a few. In fact, I barely recognised even a fraction of the apps available on the platform.

The interface itself looks like it needs a facelift to compete against other smart TV platforms.

At $10,999, the 65-inch EZ1000S is cheaper than the equivalent Oled flagships from LG and Sony that cost $12,999. While it matches its rivals in terms of picture quality, its design will not blow anyone away. Its smart TV platform is also not as slick and could do with more well-known apps.

I can live with these flaws, though you may feel that the TV user interface matters more than having marginally better picture quality.

Vincent Chang

•Verdict: If picture quality is your top priority, the EZ1000S should be near the top of your list. But it falls slightly short in other departments.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Panasonic Oled TV offers stunning visuals'. Print Edition | Subscribe