It is almost Christmas and I am sure many of you are expecting to get some new entertainment device or another - perhaps as a gift to yourself. Be it a new gaming console or a new streaming device, the next thing to cross your mind would be "how can I get the best from my new devices?"
The Panasonic HZ1000 OLED 55 inch TV could just be the right screen at the centre of your entertainment setup. It starts with its 3840 by 2160 OLED panel that brings up lifelike colours with incredible accuracy, thanks to multi HDR support - including HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Dolby Vision IQ. I have tested these modes with a variety of different sources including a Vodafone TV Gen 2, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast and Xbox Series X (sorry, no 120 Hz support for this).
My goto to movie experience was the John Wick series (4K UHD HDR on Amazon Prime). Some scenes are made for this - colours are vibrant, with a deep black and good greys. The action was smooth, with no artifacts. It also helps the TV offers a good selection of picture modes - including Dynamic, Normal, True Cinema, Custom and the most touted of them, Filmmaker Mode. In Filmmaker Mode the TV disables some post-processing including motion smoothing, giving you the content the way it was originally created.
The HZ1000 has a seemingly infinite number of video (and audio) settings. You can tweak the picture to match your exact preferences - from simple preferences to total colour control such as HDMI RGB and YCbCr range and including precise hue, saturation and luminance controls for each RGB and CMYK values. Out of the box, you get a great experience and unless you are a professional you shouldn't need to tweak these values. You can also have HDR content adapt to the light in the room, thanks to its sensor, adapting the picture to changing conditions (the only thing I can think of is if you watch content with windows open - I like watching movies mostly in the dark).
The reason for such great performance out of the box is two-fold: an enhanced processor (HCX Pro Intelligent) and because Panasonic counted on movie professionals to calibrate and certify the panels, making sure the settings are what professionals would use when creating the content we would watch later.
But we are ahead of ourselves here. First, this is a TV and you can start enjoying it by connecting to an aerial and consuming some Freeview HD content live. On first setup, the TV will scan and identify the channels available in your area, fill the grid and be ready to use. Navigating the grid and selecting programs is pretty easy and shouldn't be a problem to start with. It does support USB recording, so for my testing, I plugged a 750 GB external SSD to one of the multiple USB ports. Using the menu I've formatted the drive (which is encrypted and you will receive a warning that it won't work on another TV and content will not be accessible if you reset the TV to factory settings).
While the TV has only one tuner, I tested recording from live broadcast while watching content from another source (on an HDMI port) and it worked without a glitch. Watching recorded content requires you to open the Apps menu and go from there.
And this brings us to network. The Panasonic HZ1000 supports both ethernet (100 Mbps) and WiFi connections so you can easily connect to your network.
The Panasonic HZ1000 does have some apps and the most useful ones are those that come pre-installed. Those are Netflix (this is a "Netflix Recommended TV", YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, SkySport, Spark Sport, Neon, Freeview On Demand and TVNZ. Missing in action seems to be Disney+ and ThreeNow. From the selection of other available apps, the most interesting to me was Plex. In my case this selection covers just some of the sources we use, but the number of ports available more than makeup for this - if you use a DVD/BluRay player, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast or any of the multiple Freeview boxes around you are practically limitless on what you can play.
Logging into apps using the remote control is not easy - I like randomly generate long (24 - 32 characters) passwords. Lucky you can plug a USB keyboard to one of the USB ports and use it to type your passwords - or in the Amazon Prime Video case, a code is presented on the screen and you just use that code with your account on a computer or smartphone logged into your Amazon account. I wish other services used this kind of login. And if you have a Bluetooth, you are in luck because the TV supports the Bluetooth HID profile so it works just fine with wireless keyboard and mouse too. Bluetooth can also be used for A2DP meaning you can easily pair your Bluetooth headphones for some quiet time (for the other people in your house).
And since the TV is connected to the Internet, why not go a step further and have it working with a smart speaker? I had no problems adding the Panasonic skill to my Amazon Alexa account and controlling the TV with my voice - simple things like "Alexa, turn on the TV" or "Alexa, change input to HDMI2 on TV". Very cool and it works pretty fast too.
The Panasonic HZ1000 has four 4K 60/50p with HDCP2.2 HDMI ports (three on the back and one on the side), including support for eARC on the HDMI2 (and limited HDMI2.1 support with Auto Low Latency Mode).
You will find three USB ports (two USB 2.0 on the side and one USB 3.0 on the back) as well as analogue video input and both optical digital audio and headphone output (this one can double as a subwoofer output via a menu option).
In terms of audio, the TV is nothing to write home about. Because it's so thin you can't have anything "heavier" so a 15 W x 2 setup is all you get - my recommendation is to get a good soundbar, or in my case, have it connected to the Amazon Echo Studio via optical cable for a bit more sound. The TV does support Dolby Atmos and it creates a "Cinema Surround Pro" effect when using internal speakers.
When it comes to design, the Panasonic HZ1000 is pretty subtle: just a couple millimetres bezel around the screen, with some analogue buttons on the back (input, volume, channel, on/off), which really come handy only if you can't find the remote.
The IR remote control has a brushed metal face with a plastic back that feels nice on your hand. The keys have good space in between them - and it's backlit (a "LIGHT" button on top of the remote can toggle the backlight on/off). It has a dedicated Netflix button as well as Home and Apps for quick access to your installed applications.
The menu is quite long, with some options taking you to deeper levels. It can be quite complex, but as I said, unless you are professional you won't be changing some of those options, perhaps ever. But it's nice to know you can make it adapt to exact requirements of your environment.