The Panasonic JZ2000 4K OLED TV has a surround sound system like no other

Panasonic JZ2000 OLED TV
(Image credit: Panasonic)

There’s a new Panasonic OLED in town, after the Japanese electronics manufacturer pulled back the curtain on this year’s flagship OLED TV, The JZ2000.

Panasonic announced the set for the first time at the online CES 2021 expo, where it showed off the successor to last year’s astonishing HZ2000 4K OLED display. The JZ2000 should have more in common with its predecessor than it does differences, but there are still a few key changes – especially to the audio output.

Available in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes, the Panasonic JZ2000 will support dynamic HDR formats such as HDR10+ and Dolby Vision – along with their light-reactive add-ons, Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, which calibrate the TV’s picture in response to the level of ambient light in the TV’s surroundings.

Whereas the HZ2000 was already acclaimed for its impactful audio system, though, packing in both front-firing and upward-firing Dolby Atmos speakers, the JZ2000 takes things even further with the addition of side-firing speakers – creating a multi-directional soundscape that brings Panasonic’s recent audio efforts to their natural evolution.

We’re yet to hear whether the overall audio output has changed from the 140W on the HZ2000, but we expect a fuller sense of sound, even if the volume hasn’t increased. Panasonic tells us that this is the first year its '2000 series OLED will feature a built-in subwoofer too – and yes, the JZ2000’s speakers have been tuned by the audio specialists at Technics, as ever.

Speed of sound

Panasonic JZ2000 OLED TV

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Panasonic has undoubtedly been pressured to improve its audio offering over last year – not necessarily because it was lacking, but because rival TV brands have been pursuing their own audio technologies so aggressively.

Samsung came out with its thrilling OTS (Object Tracking Sound) technology last year, which packed in multiple drivers around the sides of its QLED displays in order to give a sense of width and verticality to its sound.

Samsung’s Audio R&D vice president, Allan Devantier, tells us that, with TV panels getting bigger and bigger, “speakers on the top, side and bottom are all far enough apart to be perceived as distinctly different sources. For example, properly done the sound from the side or top speakers do not ‘color’ the sound from the main speakers on the bottom. So, we exploit this property with OTS and OTS+."

A representative for Panasonic informs us that the company’s mastery of what’s possible on a high-end OLED TV has led it to focus more on other features in 2021 aside from picture quality: “We’ve got to a level where there’s really not very much more we can do to [the picture]. It’s so good, and it’s only going to be incremental improvements at this point – that's why we’ve shifted our focus to the feature set, say with gamers, and I think you’ll be surprised with how much that’s been improved.”

What else is new?

Panasonic JZ2000 OLED TV

(Image credit: Panasonic)

As this is Panasonic’s flagship set for 2021, it will feature a custom OLED panel – to deliver "higher peak and average brightness levels, resulting in increased dynamic range" – as well as a new iteration of the brand’s TV processor, the HCX Pro AI. This new chip is said to enable a new AI picture mode to auto-calibrating the TV’s settings, as well as a host of gamer-centric features such as HDMI 2.1 for plugging in next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles.

There are a few key details we don’t yet have regarding the JZ2000, including how expansive its HDMI 2.1 support will be (one port? four?), though we do know it will support VRR (variable refresh rate) and feature far lower latency (14.4ms) than previous Panasonic OLEDs. There is still no word on when the Disney Plus app will arrive.

The JZ2000 will see the swivel stand return – one of our favorite TV trends from the past year– too.

We’re told to expect an overhaul to its MyHomeScreen smart TV platform – a straightforward interface that may feel bare-bones to some and beautifully simplified to others – leaving its sixth iteration “much more intuitive and much more usable” than before. There will be support for major voice assistants (presumably Alexa and Google Assistant) baked in too.

One exciting new feature is the ability to connect two devices over Bluetooth to the set, meaning you can pair two over-ear headphones, or perhaps a mouse for navigating the screen.

You’ll also get Filmmaker Mode, for those who want to minimize TV processing to its bare bones – though we wouldn’t generally recommend using it.

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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.