What is the Panasonic TX-55EZ952B?
The EZ952 is Panasonic’s OLED TV offering to the mainstream. While the brand’s 65-inch EZ1002 touts features designed to tempt professional colourists, the EZ952 aims to satisfy the rest of us. It may not have a fancy Technics soundbar or Absolute Black image filter, but it doesn’t sacrifice core picture performance or usability.
We’ve already reviewed the bigger and slightly brighter version of this TV, the Panasonic TX-65EZ952B. What we have here is the 55-inch EZ952, which is yours for £2999.
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Panasonic TX-55EZ952B – Design and Build
Panasonic has pushed the design boat out of late, but with the EZ952 it keeps things reassuringly conservative. The panel is wafer thin, bulked out only by electronics and inputs from the waist down. The bezel is tiny. It resides on a classic, but heavy, pedestal.
Connections include 4 HDMIs – all HDCP 2.2 compliant, with one ARC-enabled. There are three USBs, one of which is of the fast v3.0 variant. Alongside are also an SD card reader, optical digital audio output, a mini-jack adapter for component and composite AV, and Ethernet. Dual-band Wi-Fi is standard. There are two satellite tuners plus Freeview Play as well.
The TV ships with two remote controls, a premium IR pointer with a heavyweight metallic finish, and a small Bluetooth touch controller.
Panasonic TX-55EZ952B – Features
Smart functionality comes via the Panasonic My Home Screen 2.0 platform, a derivation of the original Firefox TV OS. It’s minimal in execution but easy to use, featuring some helpful functionality. The set launches with three circular tabs (Live TV, Apps and Devices) on the homescreen, but you can pin more to make life easier. These could range from Netflix to specific inputs.
App provision is good. There’s Netflix, which streams in 4K and HDR; Amazon Video (not yet active on our review sample) and YouTube, both with 4K support; plus all the main catch-up TV services (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, Demand 5), Wuaki TV and other sundries.
The set boasts Ultra HD Premium accreditation and supports HDR10, with a firmware update for HLG broadcast HDR upcoming. Dolby Vision isn’t supported, however.
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Panasonic TX-55EZ952B – Performance
Image quality is on the right side of gorgeous. The set combines solid dynamics with excellent 2160p detail and luscious colour fidelity.
While the TV’s HDR peak brightness isn’t class-leading, it exceeds what we’ve seen on first-gen Panasonic OLEDs and Philips’ similarly priced 55-inch POS901F. With a 10% window, we measured 564 nits, rising to 579 nits with a 5% window in HDR Normal mode with full luminance. This is just in excess of what’s required for Ultra HD Premium certification for OLED.
The set tries to bamboozle with an extensive range of control, although for the most part it’s best left on autopilot. Adjustable picture parameters include Luminance, Contrast, Brightness, Colour, Tint, Sharpness, and a host a minor variables.
Picture presets comprise Dynamic, Normal, Cinema, THX Cinema, THX Bright Room, True Cinema, Custom and Professional 1 2. There’s also a high-speed gaming mode available via the Picture/options menu. With HDR sources, the TV offers an HDR version of the equivalent preset.
Experimentation is encouraged, although I suspect Normal will be the default option for most content, since it combines a crowd-pleasing combination of good average picture level, image detail and lush colour.
The default settings are generally well judged, although I’d suggest reducing Sharpness to 45 on the sliding scale to avoid ringing.
Arguably the most contentious user setting is Intelligent Frame Creation, Panasonic’s long-standing image interpolation mode designed to reduce judder and smearing. Intelligent Frame Creation actually has a limited effect on motion clarity. Where it’s effective is in retaining detail in panned static images – typically, backgrounds. If you want to maximise motion resolution, use the Clear Motion setting. It’s technically effective, but the end result is largely unwatchable as a result of an intrusive flicker.
The Minimum IFC setting is the most benign, and the picture generally looks cleaner than with IFC Off. However, if you engage IFC Mid or Max, motion artifacts become all too apparent.
The TV delivers a full slate of 4K fine detail in all viewing modes – although those THX presets mute contrast and definition. Performance on Normal is excellent. Using a 0-1000 nit ramp, we can see the set effectively tone maps to 1000 nits.
The EZ952’s perfect black level is immediately appreciable in the letterbox bars of any movie, which is curiously thrilling. Viewed in a dark room, you’ll get a genuine sense of 21:9 framing.
This ability to deliver pitch black consistently enhances depth and drama. When Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) takes to the stage to sing for his life in the season finale of The Leftovers S2, he’s picked out by a spotlight that perfectly vignettes to pure black – you just know this is exactly what the cinematographer had in mind.
The colour gamut claims almost 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space. The sheer vibrancy of the desert sequences in Mad Max Fury Road (UHD Blu-ray) are truly beautiful, with HDR enhancing the deep blue skyline; the pallid chalky skin of the War Boys juxtaposed against the fiery orange explosions of custom trucks and spiked marauders proves a visual feast.
Not that the EZ952 needs native HDR to impress. F1 in UHD on Sky Sports is spectacular. Crowd scenes in particular are alive with fine detail. Every team hat and clenched beverage appears finely delineated. You don’t look at the picture; you look into it.
Less noteworthy is audio. The TV uses conventional downward firing stereo speakers, which go loud but lack definition. Still, if the screen is used with a home cinema system or a soundbar then this won’t be an issue.
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Should I buy the Panasonic TX-55EZ952B?
If you’re after a minimalist-looking OLED TV, capable of stunning clarity and real colour richness, then the EZ952 demands an audition. It looks sensational with Sky Q UHD and 4K Blu-ray, and thanks to Freeview Play and Panasonic’s simplified Smart user interface, it’s a treat to live with.
The Panasonic EZ952 is capable of extremely high levels of UHD clarity, with HDR that’s easy to watch. Image depth is pronounced, and there’s a vibrancy to its colour rendering. The lack of Dolby Vision compatibility might become an issue if you’re investing in UHD Blu-ray – but this doesn’t detract from what is an excellent TV for the money.