(Pocket-lint) - Buying a new telly is a big investment. You want to make sure it can do all the right things and in the right way. You want to know that it looks good and sounds good. And that it's future-proofed so it's not obsolete in a couple of years when technologies inevitably advance.
Fortunately, Panasonic makes a one-box solution that's at the absolute pinnacle of what you can squeeze out of current OLED panel technology. Not only that, it's got a beefy soundsystem integrated into its design, so you won't need to faff about with adding extras - such as a soundbar, or any accessories - for a truly out-of-this-world audio solution straight out of the box.
We're talking, of course, about the Panasonic JZ2000 - the Japanese company's best-of-the-best television for 2021 - which, all things considered, could be one of the finest OLED televisions on the planet. So should you consider buying one, or are its step-down screens and the offerings of competitors equally worthy?
What's the pitch?
- Fully integrated 7.1 channel soundsystem, Dolby Atmos certified
- Sits at top of 2021 OLED range (above JZ1500 & JZ1000 models)
The JZ2000's biggest and most obvious stand-out feature is its integrated soundsystem (Panasonic calls it the "360° Soundscape Pro" if you like fancy marketing names). There are eight channels total here, arranged in a 7.1 configuration, rather than the usual stereo left and right that a typical telly will offer. That means the Panasonic has an integrated woofer to the back to service bass, while the other seven channels can push object-based sound, such as Dolby Atmos, out from the top, sides, front, and theoretically reflect sound to act as 'rear' speakers too.
That's the one major boost that you get from the JZ2000. If you don't want a highly integrated speaker solution - perhaps you already have a soundbar that you're happy to keep using, for example - then take a look at the JZ1500 that's a step below this top-end telly on review, which cuts out much of the speaker feature set.
The JZ200 does have one other big-ticket item up its sleeve: its OLED panel features Luminance Booster Technology. The JZ1500 might well have the same 'Master OLED 4K' panel, albeit it's minus this brightness-boosting technology - so the step-down model can't hit the same ultra-bright peaks as the JZ2000 can when it comes to high dynamic range (HDR) content.
Otherwise, that's about it. The JZ2000 is all about upselling the one-box solution of its integrated quality soundsystem and brightest available OLED panel on the market (which, as it happens, is identical to the panel in 2020's HZ2000 model).
- HCX Pro AI processor
- 2x HDMI 2.0, 2x HDMI 2.1 (incl. 1x eARC)
- ALLM / VRR / 4K120 HFR capable (ports 1 & 2 only)
- HDR: HLG, HDR10, HDR10+ Adaptive, Dolby Vision IQ
- 4K Master HDR OLED Professional Edition panel - with Luminance Booster Technology
Being at the top of the range, you'd expect the JZ2000 to deliver some top-class images. Which it absolutely does without so much as blinking.
Having a panel this bright is a marvel. Watching the twenty-fourth Bond movie, Spectre, and the juxtaposing scenes jumping from deep, rich blacks to almost retina-searing whites shows off just how adept this panel is at flicking between its dynamics. It's also the reason that we think OLED is the better choice than brighter-still panels, such as Samsung's QLED offering, because there's all the brightness that you'll ever need here.
The JZ2000 is smart when it comes to pictures, too, as it's got the full spectrum of high dynamic range types supported: that's Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) for all your live shows, such as those on the BBC; HDR10 along with HDR10+ Adaptive, as this panel's light sensor means it can adapt to ambient settings to dynamically adjust the picture brightness based on your viewing scenario; and top-of-the-tree Dolby Vision, here in its IQ form, which also uses that light sensor to make on-the-fly adjustments for best-possible picture quality.
Whichever of those HDR types the telly picks - it'll be able to recognise sources automatically - everything looks simply stunning. Being OLED there's no hint of blooming or backlight bleed like you can find on some LED-illuminated LCD tellies. Again, another reason we think OLED is the panel type of choice to go for. It's a stonkingly good panel. Spectre really did look sensational on 4K Blu-ray - the kind of true cinema quality that's rarely accomplished in the home.
There are a few oddities to contend with, though, as there are so many options. By default there are motion smoothness settings active that you'll want to turn down or off to stop movies looking like soap operas (but back on for fast-moving sports). All of this is correctable per HDMI source, but the settings then stick - so if we've set the output to Filmmaker Mode when watching a 4K Blu-ray through PlayStation 5, the system doesn't then auto-switch into, say, Game mode when we play a PS5 title afterwards. That'll leave you fiddling between settings from time to time to get the utmost out of different content types - which is strange, as there's an Auto AI Mode (the "AI" standing for artificial intelligence) that doesn't seem to take command as much as it should when active.
In terms of future-proofing, two of the four HDMI sockets are 2.1 standard, with high frame-rate (HFR; 4K120) supported, along with variable refresh rate (VRR) and auto low-latency mode (ALLM) to ensure sync with variable sources - which is important with the latest games consoles, such as PS5 and Xbox Series X, for example. Socket two of four is also eARC, so can intelligently handle audio passthrough, but we suspect it'll never be of any use here - as the JZ2000 has that super sound setup and it's unlikely you'll need anything extra.
- Panasonic's My Home Screen 6.0 smart system
- Remote control with quick-access buttons
- Freeview Play (UK TV catch-up services)
- Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, plus more
In terms of smart system, Panasonic uses its My Home Screen system, here in version 6. It's got a 'Home' section, where various important apps are housed, including Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and Disney+.
There's also a bunch of quick-access buttons on the included remote - Netflix, Rakuten TV, Prime Video, YouTube, Freeview Play, My App - which we actually find a little busy in terms of volume. That said, we've not used the remote much, as our BT TV one handles more or less everything we need.
The Freeview Play presence is handy for all the big UK catch-up services though, with streamable BBC, Channel 4 and so forth available if you've not got an additional box or dish that sources your live channels in that way.
There's also Easy Mirroring which will allow you to cast selected content to the screen. We find it odd it's not just full Chromecast built-in, as we've had to use up an HDMI port to plug one of those in.
- "360° Soundscape Pro integrated audio system"
- Technics tuned upward & side-firing speakers
- 7.1 channel output, 125W combined output
- Dolby Atmos certified
The real star of the show for the JZ2000 is its sound setup though. When you first setup the telly it'll guide you through what's called Space Tune - a process that emits white noise and frequency scales that bounce around the room so the TV can measure its position relative to walls, reflective surfaces, and your typical centre viewpoint (the remote control's mic is used for this). These readings mean the TV can automatically adapt its sound profile to be as targeted to the space it's within as is possible.
Hearing it rotate through each of its seven speakers (the eighth, the woofer, doesn't count), one after the other, gives you an immediate sense of how separated these all sound positionally, adding a true spatial quality to audio delivery that's scarcely heard on modern flat-panel TVs. Above all else, though, it's the sheer height that the JZ2000 can so deftly achieve - it makes audio seem like its coming from the full picture, in all the right places, rather than being emitted from a low-slung bar towards the bottom of the screen.
The built-in woofer is adept at delivering a good thump of bass, too, and while it's not going to deliver subwoofer levels, it's on par with many a portable speaker that we have in the office when it comes to delivering music. Indeed, we've often been casting music to the JZ2000 instead of playing it on a dedicated speaker instead. Plus you could add a passive sub via the optical audio output, giving an even more full-ranging cinematic sound setup.
So the sound is absolutely superb, no doubt about that, but its sense of true immersion has its limitations. We've been playing Far Cry 6, for example, where the automatic positioning of sound is fantastic in utilising far left/right and the upfiring channels. That's great. But it never truly makes good on the 'overhead' channels delivering reflected sound that ever really sounds properly overhead. DTS:X and Dolby Atmos sources certainly sound quality, just not to the degree of a full separates setup where speakers are genuinely placed around you, not just in front.
There's one other blip when it comes to sound: for all the artificial intelligence and tuning and myriad options you can select, sometimes it doesn't do as you'd expect (or as is told in the menus). The front channels can sometimes be muffled when it comes to audio in games, for example, with no amount of settings adjustment fixing this for us. We've also experienced unexpected normalisation - the music in Sackboy's Big Adventure fading in louder when sound effects are finished at the end of a level - despite such boxes and sliders in the settings explicitly telling it to not do this. So there are some quirks, from some sources, that need ironing out.
Not only does the Panasonic JZ2000 look absolutely stunning, its pictures are top class - this is the brightest OLED you can buy, eking more out of its panel than even the LG G1 OLED - and it sounds absolutely astounding too.
Sure, there are some quirks, like the soundsystem not projecting the overhead channels as you might expect from a true Dolby Atmos setup, and some rare issues with centre-front muffling. Otherwise the sheer height and immersion from this set is unlike anything else on the market - we doubt even Philips can compete with its OLED+936.
The big question for most is more likely going to be whether you genuinely need all those built-in speakers (and their associated impact on the asking price). For many buyers the JZ1500, or even the JZ1000, will deliver a lot of the goodness on offer here for a cut of the cash.
We, however, think the Soundscape Pro integration is what really elevates the JZ2000 to near-untouchable levels. If you're after an OLED panel - brighter options, such as the Mini LED technology in Samsung's QN95A are also available, but we don't think necessary - then this Panasonic more than earns its stripes. As a one-box solution for super sound and picture quality it's the TV to beat in 2021.
LG G1 OLED Evo
If you don't want the speakers, but do want that super-bright OLED panel then the LG G1 is the next best offering to consider.
Samsung QN95A QLED Neo
Want something even brighter? Samsung has that corner of the market, with its Mini LED top-ender really astounding with clarity and brightness. The sound isn't the same as the Panasonic, of course, but pop a top-of-the-line soundbar solution with it and you'll have a very special setup indeed.