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Hands on: Panasonic HZ1000 OLED TV review

Panasonic’s cheapest OLED TV gets an update

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

The panel and processor haven't changed, but the addition of a swivel TV stand, as well as new brightness sensor functionality gives us plenty to be excited about with the Panasonic HZ1000.

For

  • Dolby Vision IQ
  • Great HDR support
  • Swivel TV stand

Against

  • Same processor as 2019
  • No big changes

The Panasonic HZ1000 OLED TV should spark plenty of interest this year. As Panasonic’s cheapest OLED in the 2020 range, it will be the best port of call for those after a cinematic Panasonic set that doesn’t cost the earth (as the HZ2000 probably will).

You won’t get all the bells and whistles of Panasonic’s higher-end sets, but you won’t have to miss out on all of them either. The biggest difference between the HZ1000, HZ1500, and HZ2000 is the audio output – which won’t be much of a consideration if you have a decent home audio setup already.

There’s no pricing or release date planned for the HZ1000 so far, but we know it’s coming in the first half of 2020, and will be hitting the UK, Europe, and Australia. You can expect 55-inch and 65-inch sizes too.

Design

There’s otherwise not much to visually distinguish the set from its siblings, though the rear casing in the television should be significantly smaller, given the reduced audio output. That likely won’t be a huge issue, given the rear of the television isn’t usually in sight much of the time anyway, but it should be easier to transport and take up slightly less space.

All 2020 Panasonic OLEDs will also feature an upgraded MyHomeScreen 5.0 smart TV platform – now with thumbnails for suggested titles above selected streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube. LG (and Samsung) did it first, but it’s a welcome addition nonetheless.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

What’s different about the HZ1000 compared to last year’s model? The main thing to focus on is the TV stand design.

2019’s model had two TV stand options, which led to a pair of GZ950 / GZ1000 TVs to choose from. The singular model this time around is highly welcome, if just for simplicity. But the new TV stand also offers some new functionality – with a swivel design that allows you to easily face the television to different seats or places in your living room, rather than having to heave the whole set across the counter.

Performance

(Image credit: TechRadar)

With essentially the same 4K OLED panel, identical HDR format support (Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG) included, and only a slightly-tweaked HCX Pro Intelligent Processor, there’s little reason to upgrade from a 2019 Panasonic OLED on the basis of picture quality.

Panasonic’s main shtick with these televisions is their cinematic quality, given how closely Panasonic works with Hollywood production studios and colorists – notably Stefan Sonnenfeld, who tunes the HZ2000 model himself.

One notable change, however, is the introduction of a brightness sensor on the outside of the television (the bottom left corner of the panel, to be exact).

(Image credit: TechRadar)

All 2020 Panasonic OLEDs will support Dolby Vision IQ: a software feature that calibrates the brightness and contrast of the pictures onscreen depending on the level of ambient light in the room around the television. Given OLED’s reputation for dim output, and the hassle of having to try and amend picture settings yourself, it’s a neat feature – and one that was highly effective when we saw it in action.

Panasonic is also applying this logic to Filmmaker Mode – a picture mode designed to correct overzealous processing – which will, exclusively on Panasonic TVs, also calibrate in response to surrounding light to make images more visible. We’ve been told that the similar Netflix Calibrated Mode will arrive on all three OLEDs too – if not at launch then later in the year.

Early verdict

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We’ve only had a brief look at the HZ1000 so far, but the addition of a swivel TV stand, as well as new brightness sensor functionality to improve the visibility of its gorgeous OLED picture gives us plenty to be excited about.

Again, there’s not much else new this time around, compared to last year’s model – and if you coughed up for the GZ1000 or GZ950, there’s probably not enough to warrant an upgrade this year. We'll let you know for sure when we put out our full review in the coming months.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.