Panasonic used a fanfare of cellists to open its grand TV and audio presentation for the new season, their resonant depths perhaps designed to echo the deep deep blacks of the premium OLED televisions which led the announcements.

There will be two Panasonic OLED Series for Australia — the EZ1000, described by Panasonic’s Doug Campbell as “the flagship ‘Master OLED’, the absolute best”, but also the EZ950 Series, “a great balance of picture quality and design”.

The 65-inch EZ1000 will launch in July at $8899, with a 77-inch giant to follow in November, price not yet determined!

The EZ950 OLEDs will be in 65 and 55-inch models at $4999 and $7199 respectively, both available in July.

Panasonic Australia’s Director of Consumer Electronics Richard Tassone opened the event, emphasising the company’s heritage in general (Panasonic celebrates its centenary in 2018) and more specifically in television and video products. Its first TV was made in 1952, its first colour model in 1960. The 2017 campaign will run under the banner of ‘Extraordinary perfected’, he said, adding “It’s not only a passion, it is our art.”

Panasonic EZ1000 Master OLED

Doug Campbell, PanasonicPanasonic OLED TVs
Doug Campbell (right) also used the heritage emphasis in explaining why Panasonic will be able to make the best of OLED technology (the panels, as with all large-screen OLEDs we’re aware of, are sourced from LG.Display, the separate panel-making division of LG).

“Panasonic OLED TVs take OLED’s unique qualities and add a powerful mix of hardware and software innovations born from our decades of experience in developing TV technology, as well as a 20-year collaboration with Hollywood”, said Campbell.

Plasma was also a self-emitting technology like LED, he noted, and the company’s experience in perfecting such near blacks and shadowy details will be applied to perfect an extraordinary OLED TV experience.

For those who have forgotten the heyday of plasma, Panasonic took over the mantle of plasma leadership from Pioneer when that company stopped making its still legendary Kuro televisions, with the key engineering team joining Panasonic and, presumably, now applied to the OLED models. It was noted that with Australian consumers currently replacing their main TVs every five or six years, there should be some 2000 Panasonic customers — many of them plasma users — primed and ready for the wonders of OLED.

HEXA Chroma Drive 4K ProDescribed as the ‘brain’ behind the EZ1000 and EZ950 OLED TVs, the leading tech for the OLED Series is ‘4K Pro HDR’ (High Dynamic Range) technology, an umbrella for three key capabilities

  • the Studio Colour HCX2 (Hollywood Cinema Experience 2) 4K Processor, aiming to control the accuracy of colours, clarity and gradation-to-black levels at a pixel-by-pixel level, including processing previously only used in pro monitors, we were told;
  • HEXA Chroma Drive 4K Pro, pro-quality colour management technology which interestingly incorporates 6-colour reproduction (see diagram right), though we couldn’t quite work out how this works - presumably not at  the pixel level, rather through definition of colours and their subsequent delivery; and

  • Hollywood tuning — a Hollywood colourist, hopefully a good one, has tuned the TVs to deliver an accurate cinema experience.

Panasonic EZ1000 Master OLED

Soundbar included
One curious choice with Panasonic’s range-topper (as with other brands this year) is to build in a soundbar to the TV itself. While this delivers much better sound than could a normal TV speaker, we’d hope anyone buying such a premium TV would have an external sound system able to do it justice. We gather it can be deactivated, but not removed, as it is integral to the stand (image above).

Panasonic DMP-UB400

New UHD Blu-ray players
Also announced were two new UHD Blu-ray players and one UHD Blu-ray player with 2TB hard drive and standard Blu-ray recording.

The $549 DMP-UB400 will feature twin HDMI outputs to separate video and audio signals; while both the DMP-UB400 and $449 DMP-UB300 will support high-resolution audio playback including WAV, FLAC, ALAC and DSD. Bothy players are due in June.

The DMR-UBT1 will arrive in September, an Ultra HD Premium Blu-ray player and full-HD recorde with 2TB hard disk drive, price to be determined.

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