Panasonic Reveals Flagship JZ2000 Series 4K OLED TVs
Panasonic is introducing as part of its virtual CES 2021 presentations a flagship 4K OLED TV series, model JZ2000, which features new Artificial Intelligence (AI) picture and sound processing, and depending on retailer reaction, U.S. marketing representatives told us the company might consider making it available to U.S. consumers later this year.
With the caveat that U.S. distribution plans are “not yet finalized,” Panasonic said it might choose to make the upscale consumer-focused set available here through select distribution partners. The company, which was once prominent in the sale of plasma televisions here, withdrew the consumer TV category from U.S. stores due in large part to changing retail distribution conditions and price-aggressive competition that made profitability difficult to sustain.
At the time, Panasonic was changing its overall company direction to focus more on B2B businesses as it struggled to elevate declining profit performance and heavy debt. It reduced its once-prominent U.S. consumer electronics presence to categories like Lumix cameras and high-end audio components under the Technics brand.
Since then it has only sold here commercial-grade OLED video displays and monitors through B2B resellers. These are all built by hand, using specially selected panels with the best uniformity and typically cost more than double the price of the best consumer OLED TVs from other brands.
Retail sources said that if or when the JZ2000 series is brought in here (sometime in the second half of 2021) it would likely be through select specialty retail distribution that can properly communicate the value-added technological benefits and, if necessary, install them in homes.
Interestingly, since abandoning the TV category here, Panasonic’s 4K OLED TVs (using LG WRGB panels), have become popular higher-end products in international markets, where price competition is less volatile and distribution costs are generally lower. Panasonic is known for its technological innovation, particularly with self-emissive display technologies, like OLED and formerly plasma TVs, that have historically presented some of the best contrast and black-level results in their respective classes.
Panasonic said the new flagship JZ2000 series, which will be available in 65 and 55-inch screen sizes (suggested retail prices haven’t been disclosed), will utilize its latest HCX Pro AI processor that was developed to identify in real time the content being played by analyzing the picture every second. The story sounds similar to the new Cognitive Processor XR just introduced in Sony BRAVIA XR televisions. Panasonic’s AI processing compares incoming images against a library of learned content to automatically optimize picture and sound quality.
The new OLED TV was developed in association with Hollywood experts to present high color accuracy and will now add low-latency through support of HDMI 2.1 inputs with variable refresh rate (VRR) and high frame rate (HFR) capabilities, to satisfy the demands of high-intensity video gamers.
The JZ2000 now “eliminates the guesswork of finding ideal settings for a variety of content” using the aforementioned AI- processing that automatically identifies and optimizes the content being played without the need to manually re-adjust settings for the content and room conditions.
To improve sound, Panasonic equips the JZ2000 with side-firing speakers to complement the previous upward-firing speakers, while supporting surround sound effects. Using a “Master HDR OLED Professional Edition” panel, the set has been customized by Panasonic research and development engineers for greater control of picture quality. Compared to standard OLED TVs, panel is said to deliver higher peak and average brightness levels resulting in increased dynamic range.
Also included is the company’s proprietary Master HDR OLED Professional Edition panel, with advanced brightness boosting qualities. For picture adjustment and HDR, the JZ2000 supports the Dolby Vision IQ, Dolby Vision, Filmmaker Mode, and HLG Photo, formats and profiles. Filmmaker Mode is the Ultra HD Alliance’s picture mode settings that optimize the playback of film-based movies to present a look that is closest to the way the content creators intended it to look in a professional movie theater.
Panasonic has also added the just-announced HDR10+ Adaptive profile that dynamically adapts HDR content to the room lighting conditions of the viewing area, maintaining creative intent in any condition whether dark or bright without any loss of detail or contrast.
Furthermore, Panasonic has added its original “Intelligent Sensing,” which dynamically adjusts the picture based on ambient light levels.
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“The JZ2000 is a symbol of what we at Panasonic want to achieve,” said Yasushi Murayama, Executive of Product Strategy for Panasonic’s Visual and Sound Business Unit. “Building on the superb accuracy which makes Panasonic’s TVs ideal for watching films, we are further improving the experience in other areas such as gaming too. Through the use of AI, we want our viewers enjoy the best picture and sound settings automatically. Our aim is simply to support our customers to really, truly experience their favorite contents. Whether they are into films, games, sports, or something else, we want them to enjoy heightened visual and aural experiences which leave them feeling happy and satisfied.”
The HCX PRO AI processor and Auto AI Mode in the television will detect if a user is watching, for example, a football game to adjust the picture quality to make the grass more life-like and the players more realistic, while also automatically adjusting the sound for an at-the-stadium experience, Panasonic said. Alternately, if the television will detect when a user is watching a film to dial in the most accurate colors and other picture aspects for the most cinematic appearance.
In addition, JZ2000 features an improved speaker system for Dolby Atmos, now with side-firing speakers in addition to the up-firing and front-firing speakers already included in the previous models. The speaker system was developed in partnership with Panasonics Technics hi-fi audio engineers.
For gaming the HCX Pro AI processor reduces latency (input lag) to among the lowest in the industry for an OLED display, the company said, as part of its “Game Mode Extreme” setting. This also adds an HDMI Signal Power Link, which will improve the experience and ease of using Panasonic TVs with CEC non-supported devices like older set-top-boxes and PCs, the company said.
For smart TV, Panasonic equips the set with its My Home Screen 6.0 OS enhancements. This is said to provide greater usability enhancements to the user interface including “My Scenery” that offers a selection of restful images and videos, along with the option of choosing personal images to reflect any mood or time of day. Images of Japan are made available from Lumix Club, while other tranquil video imagery is available from LoungeV Studio (www.loungev.com).
The platform is enhanced with dual Bluetooth connection enabling sound transmission to two separate Bluetooth devices simultaneously, such that two people can listen to a film late at night via Bluetooth headphones without disturbing others.
The JZ2000 also supports major voice services built-in, allowing users to operate some key TV functions using just their voice.
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By Greg Tarr
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