What is the Panasonic GZ1500?
The GZ1500 is available in 55 and 65-inch screen sizes.
We are reviewing the 55-inch version, which was supplied by Panasonic UK and which retails for £2,299.99 at the time of our review in August 2019.
Panasonic GZ1500 Video Review
Design, Connections and Control
The bezel is a 1mm metal strip that runs around the entire panel, and on the sides and top there is a 7mm black space between the panel edge and picture which extends to 15mm at the bottom of the screen. Below the panel is the two-channel sound blade speaker bar, which is 35mm in height.
The top 254mm of the panel is 4mm thick and this widens out at the rear to 45mm to incorporate the electronics and house the connections in two recessed areas. There is venting to the top of this area to dissipate heat from the panel.
The stand is a traditional design made of heavy metal with a central rear arm that connects to the bottom rear of the panel chassis. Once connected together the GZ1500 is steady and rigid and everything feels well built and rigid.
Facing sideways, we have a common interface slot, a 3.5mm headphone input that can be switched to a subwoofer output, two HDMI slots and a USB 3 port. To the bottom are two satellite and one terrestrial antenna along with an Ethernet port.
Facing outwards are a further two HDMI and USB inputs along with one set of component video RCA and stereo audio RCA slots.
The four HDMI slots are all full-bandwidth 18Gbps with HDCP 2.2 compliance and compatibility with 4K 60P 4:4:4 videos signals with HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, HLG photo and Dolby Vision support. HDMI 2 is ARC compatible and all HDMIs support ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) for gaming.
Panasonic does provide a plastic cover to the connection section, but this is useless if you have anything connected to the rearwards facing slots.
The power supply is at the opposite side of the rear panel and is hardwired.
The supplied remote control is a little bit of a let down given the higher end stature of the GZ1500. It gets a gunmetal grey coloured plastic affair that is common in the lower reaches of the Panasonic range. Sadly, it doesn’t get the brushed metal-faced remote supplied with the GZ2000 model.
In terms of ease of use, the remote is well laid out and intuitive to use with the buttons split into similar groupings. The main menu and picture controls are towards the top of the remote with the Home, Netflix and Guide buttons surrounding the main directional and enter keys. Option and return keys sit just below these before the coloured keys and the volume and channel rockers. Between the rockers is the mute button. Towards the bottom of the remote body, we have the numerical keys as well as a direct Freeview Play access button and at the very bottom are player functions for use with Panasonic source machines or HDMI CEC controlled items.
Overall, the fit and finish may be disappointing at the price point, but the remote gets the job done.
In the HCX, Panasonic has a processor with 3D colour lookup tables that make colours realistic and accurate, right out of the box. Plus, the input of Hollywood colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld has helped push the video accuracy so you are seeing what is intended by the creators of TV and film content.
As well as handling static metadata HDR10, HLG and HLG photo high dynamic range standards, the GZ1500 is one of the first OLED TVs to support both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision dynamic metadata systems.
Also supported is Dolby Atmos sound and the GZ1500 comes with a built-in blade speaker bar with stereo front-firing speakers. If you want to add a subwoofer you can do so using the headphone output jack. By going into the menu system, you can switch this to subwoofer and then have crossover filter settings and a volume control. We added a BK Electronics Monolith subwoofer, which was probably overkill, but it added just the right amount of weight to the sound quality from the GZ1500.
For the first time, Panasonic has also added a Netflix calibrated mode that is available within the built-in Netflix app on the TV. In reality, these settings are the same as the Professional 1 and 2 or Dolby Dark or Bright presets, as they follow the industry standards, so they look identical. This is a good idea to encourage normal users to select the best possible picture settings for watching film and TV show content as they are supposed to be seen.
Intelligent frame creation settings are set at minimum by default on almost all the picture presets, including Professional, and should be set to off if you want the correct pulldown for 24fps material playback. Set at min there is very mild frame interpolation added and, if you are used to watching low frame rate material, you will see this straight away. For sports and video content, the Panasonic IFC system gives a number of options to experiment with, including a custom option with both blur and judder settings.
Moving to the colour gamut saturation tracking in Rec.709 HD (top right) we can see that out of the box accuracy is again excellent, with the only item showing on the graph a slight hue error for magenta towards red. But again with DeltaE errors well under 3, this is not visible to the eye when watching onscreen content. Panasonic prides itself on the accuracy of its images and, in the case of this GZ1500, the out of the box performance is superb and you really wouldn’t need a calibration if this were the case with all GZ1500’s sold.
With the tools available on board for manual calibration, as well as AutoCal technology to hook up the GZ1500 to the CalMAN software directly, we took both routes to see just what the Panasonic is capable of, bearing in mind that this is more a task of getting good looking graphs as the picture accuracy is already stunning on this GZ1500.
Using a colour checker after correcting the Rec.709 colour gamut in AutoCal also turned up extremely accurate results of an average DeltaE of 0.6 and a maximum of 1.4, so both well under the visible threshold again. This means that in the best out of the box mode and calibrated settings for SDR content, the Panasonic GZ1500 is one of the most accurate consumer TVs around for getting results close to the industry standards.
As always, the results of our measurements are in the most accurate picture modes to the industry standards for image fidelity and not the brightest or incredibly oversaturated subjective picture modes.
Panasonic has always been a strong brand when it comes to image accuracy as they are also a professional broadcast manufacturer and have supported Hollywood and TV producers for decades with cameras and reference displays, so it is no surprise that the Hollywood message is being used to push their OLED and LCD TVs. This year they have built on their previous high standards of accuracy with real improvements in image quality, especially with colour, white balance and just above black performance.
While this OLED panel is the latest for 2019 and is used in the GZ950 and GZ1000 models also in the Panasonic line-up, it is not the custom panel that will be used in the GZ2000. However, the performance here is excellent with a peak brightness of 700 nits along with superb tone mapping for all static metadata HDR content, plus the addition for 2019 of Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata systems.
Black levels are superb as you would expect from an OLED but, where in previous years there has been obvious black crush, this year the GZ1500 has superb levels of just above black detail that really extends into the mid-tones of the image. Plus, the engineers at Panasonic have also managed to dial out the inherent cyan blue whites of WRGB OLED and given this OLED a redder, richer colour of white which makes a big difference to image accuracy. While it wasn’t as big a standout as our hands-on with the GZ2000 recently, the correct colour of white and lack of the cyan tint (that is present even on correctly calibrated OLEDs) is not present here with viewing material. This adds to the accuracy of skin tones and colours as the greyscale is excellent.
We will save our side-by-side comparisons for future videos, but it is safe to say that up against the competition the Panasonic GZ1500 provides some of the best cinematic images we have yet seen from an OLED TV.
Motion is also strong with excellent 24fps playback that is free, for the most part, from any micro stutter or frame dropping. You will be really unlucky if you actually see this when it happens, as it is so infrequent to be a non-issue. In fact, we only saw it twice when we really went looking for it. IFC off is still the best option for correct 24fps playback with IFC adding in more frame interpolation as you go from Mid to Max. You also have a full custom option with both blur reduction and smoothing sliders available. There is also the option to add in Black Frame Insertion but as with all such systems on an OLED, the resulting flicker in high contrast images is not a pleasant viewing experience for most viewers.
Most viewers of the Panasonic GZ1500 will still be watching SD and HD resolution images for the most part and as such it is good to know that the upscaling is very good indeed, with no problems of ringing or edge enhancement. Images are clean with no issues that would worry the most observant videophile and there are no issues with softness either. SD broadcast material is always going to look soft and mushy as no scaling tech can save it, but good quality HD and compressed streams look extremely clean with excellent scaling that doesn’t push for ultimate sharpness, but rather a clean and natural look where grain is present, fluid and natural; not enhanced or processed.
SDR content looks incredible and moving to HDR playback also highlights how much better manufacturers and their engineers are getting at displaying High Dynamic Range content. With static metadata HDR10 and HLG, manufacturers can adapt their tone mapping to fit the content to their TVs' capabilities and, as such, they all do things slightly differently with Sony going for consistent average picture levels, while Philips push for brighter punch and clipping and LG use a mixture of most approaches. Added to this is dynamic tone mapping, not to be confused with dynamic metadata. Manufacturers like Sony, LG and Panasonic employ their own approaches to this on their OLED displays to maximise the performance scene by scene.
Panasonic adjusts the tone mapping for static metadata on the MaxCLL data but also through its own dynamic tone mapping that tries to produce an image which retains image brightness and preserves specular highlights without clipping the detail or dimming the image overall. You can switch this on within the menu system and it works in a far more relaxed and subtle way when compared to the similar feature used by LG.
The GZ1500 measures 700 nits peak brightness using static window test patterns, but with actual static HDR material and its tone mapping, the GZ1500 is extremely dynamic and bright. Plus, the GZ1500 doesn’t introduce aggressive auto brightness limiting when the majority of the screen is made up of bright whites or colours. Instead it retains a bright and full on image brightness that doesn’t visually reduce brightness in a way that is obvious. Posterisation is also not an issue seen very often, but with no smooth gradation type feature available on the Panasonic, it is possible to see light examples now and again with tricky material.
Moving to Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata sources we were once again impressed with the performance on offer. The GZ1500, even in Dolby Vision dark mode, offers superb black levels with above black detail, even in tricky compressed scenes on Netflix like the low light underwater scene in Lost in Space. Colours remained accurate with superb skin tones and overall image dynamics were excellent.
While we mention Netflix, we should cover the Netflix calibrated mode. This is intended to give users an accurate to the industry standards image mode with Netflix content. As all TV and film content is mastered to the same standards, it makes perfect sense that a Netflix calibrated mode will follow these standards in SDR and HDR modes. This is obvious in both SDR andf HDR when switching between Professional 2 and Netflix settings or in Dolby Vision Dark if a Dolby Vision title is viewed as they all look the same as they follow the same industry standards. It is a good idea that will hopefully have more consumers experiencing accurate image quality.
Panasonic has for many years produced some of the best looking cinematic images on their TVs and the GZ1500 continues that trend this year. Images are clean, sharp and extremely dynamic, with some of the best looking colours of any TV out there. The accuracy of the image is what gives it the cinematic look we have come to expect from such displays. Obviously, this is in the most accurate picture modes to the standards. It is possible to use the GZ1500 in standard mode with an overly blue colour temperature setting and lose everything that makes this OLED so appealing to users and Hollywood.
It does take something special to impress a seasoned TV reviewer and every now and again a manufacturer manages to impress with image quality. Plus, when you add in the front firing soundbar with the ability to add an off board subwoofer, support for Dolby Atmos sound, both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata systems and a decent smart TV system that has 4K HDR support for the major apps, the Panasonic offers everything current in one high performance OLED TV.
- Excellent black levels and just above black detail
- Stunning dynamic range performance
- Superb whites with no WRGB cyan tint
- Stunning out of the box picture accuracy in SDR and HDR modes
- Stunning image accuracy after calibration & AutoCal
- Excellent HDR brightness and tone mapping
- Dolby Vision and HDR10+ playback
- Dolby Atmos
- Soundbar and external subwoofer option
- Netflix Calibrated Mode does what it says - accurate to industry standards
- Very good build quality
- No HDMI 2.1 for those looking to future proof for gaming
- Some crackling from soundbar with audio
- Remote feels a little cheap at the price point
Panasonic GZ1500 (TX-55GZ1500B) 4K OLED TV Review
There are concerns about image retention with OLED TVs and while it is possible to introduce image retention if playing bright static high contrast images such as HUDs in games or scoreboards or news logos over a long period of time, it is also an issue we feel is slightly blown out of proportion, especially online. All of the latest OLED TVs have mitigation technology on board to help prevent any accidents with logos being left on for hours on end or retention from other causes. Plus, if you use normal viewing modes, such as the accurate professional modes we are using in this review (and why wouldn’t you do that to get the best image quality!) and vary your content over time, you shouldn’t have any issues with permanent image retention with the latest OLEDs, like this Panasonic.
So with that out of the way, the Panasonic GZ1500 is a stunningly accurate OLED TV with image quality that really is dynamic and cinematic. Blacks, as you would expect, are inky deep, but we also get an improvement in just above black detail levels, which continues right into the mid-tones of the image. Plus, we saw no issues of black flashing or flickering that can be seen with certain specific scenes in compressed material and certain black level points on other manufacturers' OLED screens. In a recent briefing with the company’s engineers, they informed us that they had been aware of the issue for some time and had introduced mitigation back then to prevent the issue from appearing in Panasonic OLEDs. Plus, they also confirmed they had introduced white balance co-ordinates worked on by colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld to remove the common WRGB OLED cyan tint to give whites onscreen a more accurate yellow/red tint, which instantly improves skin tones and image warmth.
For film fans and those who take image accuracy and quality seriously, we are really struggling to find any real negatives with the GZ1500. This is not a TV for someone who likes vivid picture modes and soap opera effect; there are plenty of other TVs out there that fit with that usage case. The Panasonic is a TV for those who want to see the image as close as possible to the standards used for content creation and here, the out of the box picture modes get close to that without calibration. However, if you do want to calibrate the GZ1500 you can easily achieve reference looking images and graphs either manually or using the AutoCal feature with CalMAN.
One issue that some consumers might think is an issue for them is the lack of HDMI 2.1 inputs but, as things stand, this is perhaps only an issue for those looking ahead for future gaming use.
Gaming wise, the GZ1500 is also a strong contender with lag at 21ms in the game mode.
One interesting point the Panasonic engineers told us about in early briefings was the fact that when fed a UHD disc with both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision options available, the TV would default to HDR10+. We tested this out with our Panasonic UB820 player; a copy of Alita on UHD disc along with the GZ1500 and it did indeed default to playing the HDR10+ option. As there is no way to switch between HDR10+ and Dolby Vision in the UHD disc menus of Alita, you either need to switch off HDR10+ functionality in the player or on the TV in the menu systems.
So, overall, the GZ1500 from Panasonic has very few cons to mention within our review. The only possible issue for some consumers or gamers looking to future proof is the lack of HDMI 2.1 although the GZ1500 does feature the Auto low-latency (ALLM) mode, but no VRR support. Plus, if you are intending to use an off board sound system you are probably better going for the GZ950 model which doesn’t have the built-in soundbar. The audio is also very good from the front firing stereo soundbar and adding an external subwoofer via the headphone/subwoofer jack adds to the experience. One issue we did experience was some slight audio break up and crackling from time to time, which we have fed back to Panasonic.
As for everything else, we think that the GZ1500 is an absolutely brilliant OLED TV with superb image quality that is incredibly accurate to the industry standards right out of the box. As such it easily gets our Highly Recommended approval and a solid 9/10.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
SDR Picture Quality
HDR Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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