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CES 2017: Panasonic Goes Decidedly Low-key With OLED TVs and 4K
Tech Features

CES 2017: Panasonic Goes Decidedly Low-key With OLED TVs and 4K

Panasonic lets their latest OLED TV and 4K Blu-ray players do the talking for themselves.

Unlike other showings of OLED TVs, Panasonic was surprisingly low-key at the booth and didn’t attract much attention when I visited. Just one lone exhibit and seemingly overlooked while the rest of the attendees were captivated with Panasonic’s other innovations in Lumix cameras, electric car batteries, and other industrial developments. This was a little unusual because the EZ1000 is one impressive display — albeit a fairly understated one compared to the headlines made by Sony or LG.

But it looks like after those years of prototype OLED 4K TVs have finally come fruition for Panasonic, and about damn time too as late is better than never with their flagship. My takeaway was that the EZ1000 wasn’t so much about aesthetics, but rather commitment to the traditional and steadfast home theater enthusiast.

Packing a bunch of technological wonders and certifications to match. With an OLED screen, you’re pretty guaranteed to an amazing picture with absolute blacks, but to be extra certain Panasonic has put in their Studio Color HCX2 processor and a bevy of calibration options that go far beyond what typical users can adjust. The latter mostly applies to ISF-trained tuners who have the actual tools to do so, and is also configured for exact CALMAN readings to help with proper adjustment. THX certification is still being worked out while Dolby Vision is left out entirely.

The soundbar is unique in that it serves as the base for the EZ1000 and is engineered by Technics, the “blade speakers” is powered by eight woofers, four mid-drivers, two tweeters, and a quad passive radiator for weighted bass.

The TV looks fantastic and has a unique ability to render blacks properly without sacrificing shadow detail, and a feature of the Studio Color HCX2 can define color on “3D tables” for accuracy. This type of attention was done in an effort to replicate the detail that filmmakers obsess over, but whether you believe that or not the overall picture I saw did appear to have a slight edge above LG and Samsung. It really does come together and videophiles will be happy.

The EZ1000’s colors looked richer and more vibrant, which is complimented by a brightness level that’s 40% better than backlit LEDs. The picture in dark scenes are almost absolutely black with smoother gradations in grayscale to compliment shadows, and whether it for presentation or coincidence, the brighter parts are further accentuated for dramatic effect.

Another unveiling were new entry-level Ultra HD Blu-ray players, the DMP-UB300 and DMP-UB400 which have many of the features seen in the UB900 from last year. Similar to the flagship, they sport the same HCX 4K (Hollywood Cinema Experience) image processor and upscaling, two HDMI outputs, support 4K Netflix streaming, and do High-Res Audio formats including DSD (5.6 MHz/2.8 MHz). However, the chassis is smaller, less luxurious, and lacks a SD Card slot and THX certification for the lower cost; but the UB400 utilizes screen mirroring and vacuum tube listening modes with 96-kHz/192-kHz up-sampling.

At the moment, manufacturer pricing and release are unknown but expect them to arrive this spring. Europe and Asian territories will likely get all of these models first with the EZ1000 and DMP-UB400 eventually reaching North America.