With the TX-65GZW954, Panasonic is launching an OLED television that is particularly tempting in terms of price, and apart from the remote control and the base design, it achieves the qualities of the more expensive GZW1004 model.
If you missed our test of the almost identical model TX-65GZW1004, the test of the TX-65GZW954 is ideal for bridging this knowledge gap. At the time of the test, the TX-65GZW954 was available from specialist retailers below the recommended retail price, which should make it easier for ambitious XXL-TV beginners to experience Panasonics best picture quality with their own eyes in the living room. Panasonic also combines the strengths of the self-illuminating OLED pixels with excellent panel control in this model, which means that dark (HDR) film scenes in particular are displayed correctly and colors are natural.
Thanks to a large number of pre-saved presets, even beginners can enjoy unadulterated image reproduction and different sources can be optimally assessed with regard to the actual image performance. Whether you use the TX-65GZW954 as a television, home cinema film machine or gaming monitor is of secondary importance, because the setting and optimization options are so extensive that the TX-65GZW954 is suitable as a reference device in every respect. Far from high-end attitudes, the device is self-explanatory and the satellite TV twin tuner device is almost self-explanatory. Pre-sorted channel lists, in which HD or UHD content can be specifically filtered, and the support of the HbbTV operator app support you in everyday TV life. Without a CI module and smart card, you can activate the encrypted HD and UHD private channels free of charge for 6 months (Internet activation). B. from ProSiebenSat.1 even come up with a practical restart function in case you missed the start of a program. Alternatively, set up USB hard drives for program recording.
4K HDR streaming
The app selection is limited, but first-class: In addition to Netflix content, you can also view videos from Amazon, Youtube and Rakuten in UHD-HDR quality. The highlight: Panasonic not only supports the common HDR standards HDR10 and HLG, but also the dynamic variants Dolby Vision (e.g. Netflix) and HDR10 + (e.g. Amazon). Since these signals can be played not only via streaming providers, but also via HDMI via UHD Blu-ray players and corresponding discs, this can lead to unwanted problems. Discs from 20th Century Fox (e.g. UHD-BD Alita: Battle Angel) show the Dolby Vision signal (20th Century Fox logo) at the start of the disc, but automatically switch to the HDR10-Plus process at the start of the film. In order to be able to display the Dolby Vision signal in such cases, Panasonic enables the preselection of the dynamic HDR format within the system settings of the TV, which avoids the “HDR10-Plus constraint” in such.
Standard HDR signals can be optimized via a subsequent dynamic HDR adaptation. With current software, the correction was available with both HDR10 and HLG signals. Since Panasonic already adapts the HDR tone mapping excellently in the basic settings, the subsequent corrections show hardly any effects. And although Panasonic offers numerous options for subsequently alienating the input signal, the greatest strength of the television is that it can evaluate the actual signal quality. Filters against banding artifacts can be found here just as little as excessive noise filtering or a dramatic alienation of HDR signals. If you enjoy HDR films with reduced ambient light, you will quickly appreciate the display quality of the TX-65GZW954.
Unfortunately, the performance of the built-in speakers is not as convincing, which is why an external speaker system is recommended. Panasonic’s OLED television internally processes Dolby Atmos signals in TrueHD format. Due to the limitations of the HDMI ARC channel, such Atmos sources can only be forwarded in Dolby Digital Plus quality. DTS sources are not supported by the TV. For PC and gaming fans, the TX-65GZW954 is a double-edged sword: Panasonic’s Pure Direct mode and the low input delay in game mode meet the highest quality standards, but the TV does not support 120 Hz or 1,440p signals and HDMI 2.1 Functions such as variable frame rate adjustment (HDMI VRR, Freesync) cannot be implemented. The only new gaming feature that supports HDMI-ALLM is that the television automatically switches to game mode according to the signal. Speaking of game mode: Instead of using the game preselection, you can also switch on the game option within a pre-calibrated film setting in order to reduce the input delay to a minimum.
Thanks to the latest software updates, the TX-65GZW954 no longer showed any annoying image dropouts when the interframe calculation and 50 Hz TV signals interact. 4K HDR 60 Hz video and 24 Hz film sources, on the other hand, continued to stall when IFC smoothing was used. Note that when the black screen overlay, the game and the Pure Direct option are activated, a 60 Hz conversion from 24 Hz film sources takes place automatically, which is why we can only recommend these settings for PC and gaming fans. The image illumination was almost error-free in our test sample, slight shadow effects were only discreetly noticeable with uniform color areas and fast camera pans. In contrast to the much more expensive OLED model GZW2004, however, the GZW954 tends to have afterglow effects if colorful picture elements remain motionless in place. For this, Panasonic has an excellent grip on the problem of automatic image darkening in film scenes without changing contrast: Even consistently dark HDR film scenes and a large part of the current Netflix series showed no disturbing drop in brightness in HDR mode.
Less is more
Instead of irritating with a flood of information and advertising, you can trim many functions of the Panasonic TX-65GZW954 and thus only display the really important things. In the system settings you can prevent the HbbTV info display for individual programs after changing channels or reduce the picture selection to the required specifications. The smart TV home screen could hardly be simpler: the content is arranged in a row through your app selection and the app menu also contains additional TV functions such as picture in picture or the electronic program guide. The almost endless setting options in the system menu can seem a little intimidating at first, but if you examine the possibilities of the TV point by point, you will be rewarded with practical additional functions. With all praise, some of Panasonic’s decisions are misunderstood: Most of the time, unnecessary cropping is preset, video game fans should check the HDMI-RGB setting to avoid loss of detail and the color scale preset is not always the right choice. Avoid the dynamic and normal image presets, as this will block the advanced image settings, which in turn makes it impossible to switch off the auto-contrast post-processing (brightness flickering possible). If you want to use voice control, you are dependent on external devices, since the remote control and television do not have a microphone and a smart second remote control is missing.
High-end picture at a bargain price
In view of the almost identical performance of the TX-65GZW954 model compared to the previously tested TX-65GZW1004, the final question arises as to why our rating is somewhat worse than last year. The difference in rating cannot be fully explained with quality differences in the remote control and the stand alone, rather our stricter test requirements contribute to the TX-65GZW954 not being able to reach the same rating regions in 2020 as in the previous year. If your main focus is not on future sources such as PS5 and Co., but on the requirements of the present, you will hardly miss anything. Once set up reasonably, the TX-65GZW954 masters most image sources without errors and especially for OLED TV beginners, the TX-65GZW954 offers the option to enjoy Panasonic’s high-end image quality more cheaply than ever.
Settings for a natural picture
- Mode: Professional, THX, User or Game
- Luminance level: as desired
- Contrast: 90 – 100
- Brightness: 0
- Color: 50
- Hue: 0
- Sharpness: 60
- Color Temp .: Warm 2
- Color Man .: Off
- Color Mastering: Off or Low
- Ambient sensor: as desired
- Dynamic HDR Effect: On (HDR10 source)
- Auto HDR: as desired
- HDR Brightness: 7
- Noise Reduction: Off or Auto
- Rem. Pr. MPEG: Off
- Rem. Pr. Resolution: Auto
- Contrast remastering: On
- Intelligent Frame Creat .: Off
- Black: off
- Intermediate picture:
- Contrast control: off
- Color scale: Rec.709 (SDR), Rec.2020 (HDR) or color mastering
- Gamma: 2.2, 2.4 or BT.1886 (SDR), 2.2 (HDR)
- 16: 9 Overscan: Off
Here it goes on to part 2 of the test with data from the measurement laboratory!
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