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This tidy Panasonic 48-inch OLED TV certainly doesn’t downsize performance. It’s a premium 4K HDR screen certain to impress the most demanding of movie lovers. Auto AI image processing ensures excellent picture quality from all programme types, while top notch HDMI connectivity makes the most of next-gen games consoles.
Time to dig a little deeper into this bijou belter…
While we tend to like our OLED screens larger than life, we can make an exception for this diminutive diva. It’s compact enough to fit most any viewing space, but offers outstanding OLED image quality with beautiful contrast and rich colours. It also has a well-stocked smart TV hub, plus high-end connectivity options for demanding gamers.
This 48-incher is widely available for £1,099. Additional screen sizes in the JZ980 range are 55 and 65 inches (TX-55JZ980B and TX-65JZ980B respectively), and these typically sell for £1,299 and £1,799. Although a bit on the pricey side, features and connectivity options can be considered suitably high-end.
Considering all the leading edge technology is on board, we think the JZ980 can be considered a solid value buy. There are rival OLED flat-screens from the likes of LG and Philips which sell for less, but they can’t match this Panasonic offering when it comes to HDR format support, which is class leading.
The set’s feature spec is comprehensive. The JZ980 is built around Panasonic’s own smart hub. My Home Screen, which appears here in its sixth iteration. Much refined as a result, it’s an easy to use but powerful smart platform that’s big on customisation.
Streaming options are plentiful. Freeview Play ensures the main channel Catch-Up players are built in, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 and UKTVPlay. Key premium streaming apps are present too, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Rakuten TV, BritBox and Disney+.
The set also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa smart assistants, with smartphone mirroring courtesy of Chromecast.
As we’ve come to expect from Panasonic, the JZ980 is well made and boasts classic, classy lines. A dark grey micro bezel sits above two slot-in feet. With a less visible OLED panel than larger screen sizes (but the same electronics, speakers and inputs), it does seem a little chunky (at 67mm), but viewed square-on you’ll not notice.
Connectivity is leading edge, with two of its four HDMI inputs supporting top end features like High Frame Rate 4k 120HZ video playback, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and eARC (for use with a soundbar). Computer gamers will appreciate that the TV is also AMD Freesync Premium certified, for smoother gameplay. There’s also ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) game mode support, so the set always jumps to the right setting when you power up your console.
Gaming credentials extend to the set’s input lag performance, which is reassuringly low at 14.6ms (1080/60).
Additional connectivity includes a trio of USB ports, a digital optical audio output and Ethernet to complement Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Setup is straightforward, with helpful on screen prompts. The slim remote control comes with dedicated buttons for Netflix, Rakuten TV, YouTube, Prime Video and Freeview Play.
Image quality, even on this relatively small OLED screen, is massively impressive. Its pictures are deliciously filmic, with deep blacks, superb contrast and rich, vibrant colours.
Panasonic is one of the few TV brands to offer comprehensive HDR format support. The JZ980 covers all the standards in use today - regular HDR, HDR10+ Adaptive, Dolby Vision IQ and HLG. Not that you need to understand this jargon. This automatically makes the most of any 4k HDR picture it receives.
Both Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive cleverly use the set’s on board sensor to adjust picture parameters to match the ambient lighting in your viewing room. Without such clever trickery, some HDR shows can just look a tad too dark when viewed in bright room conditions.
The TV is able to maintain layers of detail and texture, no matter if you watch with all the lights off and a bucket of popcorn on your lap, or midway through a bright afternoon with tea and cake.
Even industry standard Filmmaker Mode, included amongst the viewing presets, similarly boasts Intelligent Sensing, to give the picture more punch when required. The set also boasts a Netflix Calibrated mode, designed to present Netflix shows as their director intended.
Key to the JZ980’s excellent detail and colour is Panasonic’s all-new HCX Pro AI Processor. It presents colours that are deep and striking, without being oversaturated. Disney+ animations, in particular, look superb.
The set’s HDR performance can be considered better than average, with plenty of sparkle and believable picture depth.
While there are a wide variety of image modes, you don’t actually need to worry too much about choosing the right one. The set’s Auto AI mode, powered by that HCX image engine, is smart enough to recognise content styles and adjust accordingly. Just select that as your default and you’re sorted.
While the JZ980 has innovations aplenty on the picture side, its audio performance is a little more prosaic. Performance is constrained by the set’s two channel speaker arrangement, and 15W amplification.
The good news is that it’s compatible with Dolby Atmos cinema-style audio, which can route that out of the TV using HDMI eARC from the likes of Netflix and Disney+, to a waiting compatible soundbar or sound system.
While you’ll pay a price premium for its 48-inch screen size compared to a larger 55-inch model, if the form factor fits, the JZ980 can be considered a superb buy. Picture quality is outstanding, with beautifully judged colour reproduction, deep blacks with nuanced shadow detail, and punchy contrast.
The fact that the JZ980 supports all flavours of HDR is a bonus. Its up-to-date HDMI connectivity also makes this a cracking display partner for any next-gen games console.
Overall we rate this is a fab performer that’s as future-proof as you can buy right now.
Picture quality 5/5
Sound quality 3/5
Value for money 4/5