Panasonic’s new OLED TVs are much more impressive than we expected

Panasonic TV 2021
(Image credit: Panasonic)

Panasonic has unveiled the remainder of its 2021 OLED TV range, and there are some notable changes over the previous year's models.

Alongside the JZ2000 OLED flagship we saw back at CES 2021, Panasonic has shown off three step-down models: the JZ1500, JZ1000, and JZ980.

The JZ1500 and JZ1000 are shaking things up by featuring the same custom OLED panel usually saved for the flagship model, which ups the peak and average brightness for more impressive HDR.

That's an astonishing bit of tech to trickle down the range, and we're waiting to hear if that will see an uptick in price over the expected RRP – but it bodes well for those wanting incredible picture quality without all the bells and whistles of the JZ2000, even if step-down sets will sacrifice some of the audio output and side-firing sound of the top model.

The JZ980, meanwhile, is a successor to last year's HZ980, which introduced a budget OLED model that ditched the swivel stand and premium motion smoothing of more premium sets to bring down the cost to the same level as the LG CX OLED or Sony A8H.

Crucially, all of these three new models will come in the 48-inch OLED panel size introduced last year, showing that 2021 is truly the year when this compact screen size goes mainstream. The JZ1500, JZ1000 and JZ980 will all come in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes, too, though the JZ2000 flagship will only come in those latter two sizes.

Stepping up with step-down models

Panasonic also designed to unveil its top-tier LCD models, the JX940, JX850 and JX800.

Panasonic has great form when it comes to mid-range LCDs, especially with format support, as we can see in these 2021 models too. You'll find Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG HDR formats all supported on every set down to the JX800, Dolby Atmos audio supported down to the JX850, and Game Mode Extreme down to the JX940.

Game Mode Extreme is Panasonic's take on gamer-friendly features such as lag reduction and removal of screen tearing (through AMD FreeSync Premium). All 2021 Panasonic TVs down to the JX940 will pack in two HDMI 2.1 ports for 4K/120Hz passthrough from a games console, while VRR (variable refresh rate) capability will keep input lag at 60Hz down to just 2.5ms, compared to 8ms in 2020 sets.

An update in 2021 will bring full VRR capability to 120Hz VRR too, and Panasonic tells us that 4K resolution VRR will be announced at some point down the line.

The JX800 will be one to keep an eye on, as a mid-price LCD and successor to the excellent HX800 TV, though it will also introduce the Android TV operating system to Panasonic's lineup. Panasonic usually makes do with its streamlined (and quite bare-bones) MyHomeScreen interface, though it looks like cheaper sets like the JX800 are looking for a more mainstream OS solution.

You can expect all 2021 OLED models to go on sale this coming June, though the LCD models will release slightly earlier in May.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.