Panasonic’s highly classy, plasma-like OLED 4K TV is a real television connoisseur’s choice
Part of Panasonic’s premium ‘Pro 4K’ OLED line, the EZ952 features the brand’s Hollywood tuned picture processor, the Studio Colour HCX2, and couples it with a smart platform that makes a virtue of simplicity. Build and specification ooze class.
The EZ952 is available in both 65-inch and 55-inch (TX-55EZ952) guises, it’s the larger model that I’ve concentrated on here as this is a very cinematic TV, and bigger is better when you’re talking screens for movies.
REASONS TO BUY
- Beguiling 4K picture quality
- Classy, minimalist design
- Nifty Freeview Play tuner and powerful smart OS
REASONS TO AVOID
- Not the brightest HDR you’ll see
- Unexciting audio
PANASONIC TX-65EZ952 4K UHD OLED TV: DESIGN
The EZ952 features a clean minimalist design with a premium finish. The bezel is elegantly thin, while the pedestal stand heavy in the extreme. The OLED panel is just 4mm thin, but gains width mid-way down thanks to the addition of electronics and inputs.
Connections include four HDMIs, all HDCP 2.2 ready for 4K sources like Sky Q and UHD Blu-ray. One is ARC enabled, so you can use it with an ARC-equipped soundbar or home cinema system. There are three USBs, plus an optical digital audio output, minijack adaptor for component and composite AV, and SD card reader. Wi-Fi is standard. In addition to Freeview Play, there are twin satellite tuners.
The EZ952 comes with two remotes: a premium IR controller and small Bluetooth touch pad.
PANASONIC TX-65EZ952: PERFORMANCE
Image quality is stratospherically high. The set comes with Ultra HD Premium certification, and also THX approval. HDR covers HDR10 and HLG, with HDR10+ metadata support promised via a firmware update. An HDR Brightness Enhancer optimizer is available to lift HDR image quality when viewing HDR in rooms with high ambient light. This increases luminance, but doesn’t over-brighten the whole image. The EZ952 is not Dolby Vision compatible, however.
HDR peak brightness isn’t the highest – I measured it at just under 600 nits with a 10 per cent window – but dynamics are good. Black level performance is also top class – just savour how dark letterbox strips look on widescreen movies! Arguably even better than that, it does a good job revealing near-black shadow detail too.
Picture modes include Dynamic, Normal, Cinema, THX Cinema, THX Bright Room, True Cinema, Custom and Professional 1 & 2. The Normal mode is actually a great option for most viewing, as it combines a good average picture brightness with excellent definition and colour fidelity, but you can dip into the THX and Pro modes on movie nights. There’s also a high-speed gaming mode accessed via the picture/options menu.
The image is immensely cinematic, and knowingly references Panasonic’s much-lauded plasma screens from back in the day. The 4K Hexa Chroma Drive Pro image engine claims to cover almost 100 per cent of the DCI-P3 colour space (that is a good thing, in case you were wondering). The EZ952 also does a fine job upscaling HD content, uplifting SDR and making the most of the panel’s pixel density.
You do need to take some care with the set’s Intelligent Frame Creation image interpolation modes as these can introduce unwanted image artefacts, in an attempt to reduce judder and blur. You might find higher setting useful for fast-paced sporting action, but in general you stray from the Minimum setting at your peril.
As is often the case with otherwise magnificent OLED tellies, the least exciting element of the EZ952 is its audio performance. It’s fine as far as it goes, thanks to 40W of amplification, but a panel like this deserves to be used with a larger, more expansive sound system or at the very least, one of the best soundbars.
PANASONIC EZ952: FEATURES
The set is well supported when it comes to catch-up and streaming services. BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 can all be accessed via the Freeview Play roll-back programme guide.
Panasonic’s My Home Screen 2.0 platform, an update on the open source Firefox TV OS, looks simplistic but is easy to use and customise. The home screen launches with three buttons (Live TV, Apps and Devices), but you can pin more as required – adding favourites such as iPlayer, for instance, or specific hardware inputs.
There are also folders to accommodate multiple users, while a My App button on the remote can be customised for fast access to preferred services. Netflix streams in 4K with HDR, Amazon Video and YouTube, also offer 4K support. The media player also supports 4K, of course.
LG OLED B7 (OLED65B7) REVIEW: VERDICT
At time of writing, the 65-inch iteration of this panel could be picked up for just short of £3k, which is actually highlycompetitive for such a well-specified OLED model. The smaller version is a grand cheaper. This makes it a serious competitor to the market-leading OLEDS from LG.
I really like the EZ952. It may not push the HDR envelope, but the picture balance it finds is beautifully judged, and suits almost all sources. Couple the TV with a Sky Q box or UHD player, and let its velvety visuals engulf you. If you’re a plasma owner looking for a UHD upgrade, the EZ952 is definitely worth an audition.