Home

Panasonic FZ1000S: Cinematic visuals on a TV screen

Panasonic's TH-65FZ1000S offers good picture quality, thanks to its latest Oled panels and advanced HDR technology

Directors Christopher Nolan (Batman films, 2005 to 2012) and Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, 2007) recently suggested that television makers have a Reference Mode in their TVs that would display videos without motion interpolation, a feature that smoothens moving images and reduces motion blur.

This standardised mode, they say, will let viewers watch films on their TVs as they are presented in the cinema.

The two directors would probably approve of Panasonic's top Oled television this year, the TH-65FZ1000S (FZ1000S). It comes with a True Cinema preset that is akin to Reference Mode. Not only does True Cinema display videos without motion interpolation, but it is also said to be tuned by visual experts from the movie industry.

The FZ1000S uses the latest 2018 Oled panels and has a new video-processing engine that improves on colour accuracy and picture quality. It is able to display finer gradients while transitioning to black.

In other words, you should see more detail in darker scenes where it would have been uniformly black previously.

It can also dynamically assess the brightness levels of each scene before delivering the most appropriate colours.

For fans of high dynamic range (HDR) videos, the FZ1000S comes with HDR10+, a new, royalty-free competitor to the established and proprietary Dolby Vision format. Like Dolby Vision, HDR10+ is better than HDR10 as it supports dynamic metadata that can vary the brightness, colour saturation and contrast of the TV on a scene-by-scene basis for more realistic and detailed images.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $10,999

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

    AUDIO FEATURES: 80W output

    OPERATING SYSTEM: My Home Screen 3.0

    CONNECTIVITY: 4 x HDMI, 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, Optical output, Ethernet, Wi-Fi

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 5/5

HDR10+ is supported by Samsung and Panasonic but, at the moment, there is no widely available content, unlike Dolby Vision, which is used by Netflix.

In terms of picture quality, the FZ1000S is right up there with the very best television sets this year.

While the LG C8P Oled TV had a slight hint of banding in the orange sky of Las Vegas in Blade Runner 2049 (2017), there was none with the FZ1000S. Every scene I tested in the movie looked picture-perfect and pristine.

I also liked the screen's anti-reflective layer that reduces reflections and makes blacks look even darker.

Like all Oled TVs, its brightness level, despite improvements, is still far from matching the intensity of Samsung's QLED models.

Thanks to its massive soundbar, which spans the width of the set and holds 14 speakers tuned by audio brand Technics, the FZ1000S has the most impressive built-in audio of any TV set I have tested this year.

It is genuinely window-rattling - a veritable wall of sound. Dialogue is clear even in the midst of loud action scenes. Its surround mode effectively gave me a sense of where the audio is coming from.

Physically, the new model looks identical to last year's version. The top half is very slim - comprising just the thin Oled screen - while the rear of the set thickens to house the internal electronics.

It comes with four HDMI ports that support 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. However, only the first two HDMI ports have full bandwidth (HDMI 2.0). This should not be an issue for most users, though rivals LG and Samsung support HDMI 2.0 for all ports on their top models.

As usual, Panasonic includes two remote controls. I prefer the traditional version over the touchpad-equipped version. The former may be larger, but it has more useful buttons. It also has a backlight so you do not need to fumble in the dark.

Panasonic continues to use Firefox OS as its smart TV platform, even though its designer Mozilla has long halted all development. Dubbed My Home Screen, it now has a launcher bar at the bottom that can be customised with shortcuts to apps and inputs.

It is not the most intuitive of TV interfaces, though it feels responsive and apps load quickly.

While Panasonic has added the Amazon Prime Video that was missing from last year's model, its app selection is still behind other TV platforms. It is probably time for Panasonic to cut its losses and switch to a different and more vibrant TV platform, like Android TV, for instance.

Panasonic's own TV settings menu could also do with a facelift. This interface looks blocky and archaic. It also disconnected from my home Wi-Fi network on a few occasions. I had to restart the set to get it to re-connect to my Wi-Fi network.

Its high price tag of $10,999 is what you would expect of a top Oled TV, though last I checked, its street price is about $8,000.

If you already have your own soundbar or speakers, Panasonic has a cheaper model (FZ950S), which is identical to the FZ1000S, but without the Dynamic Blade Speaker.

• Verdict: One of the best television sets now when it comes to picture quality and audio. The FZ1000S deserves a better smart TV platform than its current version.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2018, with the headline 'Cinematic visuals on a TV screen'. Print Edition | Subscribe