In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the latest Panasonic LZ980 OLED TV. It’s a 4K OLED screen with HDR, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos support, but it’s also packing some serious gaming features, which includes HDMI 2.1, VRR, and 120 hertz. On top of that, Panasonic has their own gaming menu called the Game Control Board, which is an awesome feature to have.
So, the model that I have in article is the 48-inch version, but it’s also available in 42, 55, and 65 inches. So, whether you wanted a 42-inch monitor for your desk or a 65-inch in the living room, this TV should tick most of the boxes.
When it comes to the picture quality and how it handles a selection of games and movies I’ve played on it, I’ve been very impressed. Now, throwing an animated HDR movie on it always looks impressive as this shows off the colors and vibrancy pretty well. However, it’s when you go looking for the black levels and how it handles the dark areas of a movie or a game where you truly appreciate the advantages of an OLED. Those inky blacks and contrast levels mean you’re getting a near-perfect picture without worrying about blooming or washed-out colors.
One of the big features of this TV is Dolby Vision and Dolby Vision IQ support. This means any content that is Dolby Vision optimized or certified will work on here, and this is always my preferred format out of the two HDR options. So, it’s great to see that Panasonic has included this on their TVs.
As you can see, the contrast, highlights, and shadows of this TV are handled really well, especially in HDR. And if we take a look at the brightness, while OLEDs generally speaking don’t get quite as bright as our traditional LCD TV, but during the two weeks of using this, I’ve been running the luminance at around 80 percent, and that has been perfectly fine for me.
Furthermore, this is a 4K screen, so any games optimized for 4K will look absolutely stunning on here. But what’s more, this TV also supports HDMI 2.1.
Panasonic has included something called gamer mode extreme, and essentially it makes their new OLED TVs ready for gaming on the PS5, Xbox, or PC. This gives us 120 hertz Alm and VRR or the variable refresh rate. This means games that support 4K and 120 hertz are crazy smooth with no stuttering or screen tearing. Taking a look at the Xbox and the PS5 screens, it’s great to see all of those green ticks showing what the TV is capable of delivering.
The first thing that I did was set up the PlayStation 5 and tested out a few different games, including Spider-Man, Gran Turismo 7, Ratchet and Clank, and a few others, both during the day and at night to see how this TV performed in all situations I would normally play in. Spider-Man is a fast-paced game, so there’s loads of movement and motion, so if the TV was going to stutter or lag, this was going to be it. For me, this turned out to be crazy smooth, but it’s not just the fast-paced games that look good with this smooth motion handling and high frame rate. Any game that I tested takes Gran Turismo 7; this game looks crazy clear, smooth, and vibrant.
Bearing in mind this TV is not calibrated yet, sure, I’ve tweaked the brightness and the color temp, but that’s it. It looks this good straight out of the box. Then, if you do want to hook up a gaming PC, this TV also supports AMD free-sync premium, so you’re going to get a fluid and tear-free gaming experience on there as well.
We know this TV is clearly capable of delivering a decent gaming experience because it takes all of those boxes for both consoles. But the fact that Panasonic has gone above and beyond just giving us HDMI 2.1 and calling it a day says a lot about their focus on Gamers. So they’ve integrated this gaming menu into their TV, and this is called the game control board. You can either pin this to your app area like I have here or you can assign it to the my apps button. By pressing this button, it will open the app by default.
Now within the game control board, it gives you quick access to some handy features settings that you can change on the fly without needing to dive into the main settings area. Things like enabling VRR, switching the picture profiles, or checking if the 120 hertz bypass mode is enabled. And if you press the I on the remote control, it gives you the current frame rate and resolution, so you can always check if you’re running your games at the optimum mode. If you press more information on the game control board, it gives us even more information on the current input and game.
For me, this shows that Panasonic is targeting gamers who want more control over their settings on the go. It’s a nice touch and something that’s pretty underrated.
Panasonic LZ980 Movies
So I’ve talked about gaming, and that is the focus of today’s video, but let me quickly highlight the movie focus features as well. Not only does this pack all of the gaming features it would need, it also comes with Dolby Vision support. So, any Ultra HD disk or streaming service that supports that will look awesome. As well as the filmmaker mode which allows any content to be displayed and played as a director intended.
Now, as this is an OLED, the viewing angles are almost perfect. This means that no matter where you place the TV in your room or on your desk, you’ll still see the picture with no loss in quality, contrast, or color. This is still one of the biggest selling points of an OLED, as you don’t need to sit straight on for the optimum picture. The only compromise is reflections, but this panel does have a slight anti-glare coating. We’re not talking about a matte finish here, so there’s nothing to worry about. It is still glossy, but it has a tinted finish, so it appears darker and helps reduce those mirror-like reflections in your room.
So, I’ve mentioned this TV supports 120 hertz, VRR, and 4K gaming, but what about the available ports? Well, around the back, we have a total of four HDMI ports. Two of these are HDMI 2.0, and two are HDMI 2.1. This means you can plug in two consoles or a console and a soundbar via the eARC port, and you still have two ports available for non-120Hz gaming.
Panasonic LZ980 TV Design
Looking at the design and overall appearance of the LZ 980, it’s a pretty normal-looking OLED TV. We’ve got the base stand in the middle, which is plastic but has a brushed metal finish. Then there are the thin frames and bezels around the outside of the screen. There’s just a small chin across the bottom, which houses the Panasonic logo. The stand is also raised just enough that you should be able to fit a soundbar underneath if you need it. As expected, this TV does come with speakers built-in.
Now, although I usually use external speakers most of the time in my setups, the speakers on this TV are surprisingly good for such a small screen. It supports Dolby Atmos sound processing, which makes a difference in creating that immersive cinematic sound in your room. I have found that setting the volume between 30 and 35 is ideal, and it gives a nice balance between voice clarity and bass without distorting either.
Menus and settings
I know it doesn’t look like it’s a battery-only one problem right there. To be continued. For outsider gaming and watching TV, you might be interested in the menus, the UI, and the settings. As mentioned during my unboxing video, this has been one of the snappiest UIs I’ve ever used. So tapping the home button brings up the app bar across the bottom, which you can rearrange as you’d like, and you have all the normal apps like Netflix, Prime, and Apple TV. Then, if you press the My Apps button, it brings up the full app list as well as access to the app store. Then we have the picture settings and sound settings area where you can switch off motion processing, enable the game mode, ALM, and loads more.
Now I’ve talked about a lot of the pros and advantages of this TV, but what about the negatives or missing features? Although it comes with two HDMI 2.1 ports, one of those is reserved for e-arc. So let’s say you had a soundbar, a PlayStation 5, and an Xbox Series X, you wouldn’t be able to use all three devices using the two available ports. One of those consoles would then need to be plugged into the HDMI 2.0 port.
It also doesn’t support HGIG or G-Sync, so if these were features that you were looking for, well, you won’t get them on this model. But even with all of that said, this TV packs a lot of features, including HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, 120Hz VRR, and a decent gaming menu. So, if you were looking for a 42 or 48-inch OLED for your gaming setup, this would be an easy recommendation based on what it can offer. Now, I have linked to this TV below, but here are the current sizes and prices as of today.
Panasonic LZ980 QLED TV Review
It also doesn't support HGIG or G-Sync, so if these were features that you were looking for, well, you won't get them on this model. But even with all of that said, this TV packs a lot of features, including HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, 120Hz VRR, and a decent gaming menu. So, if you were looking for a 42 or 48-inch OLED for your gaming setup, this would be an easy recommendation based on what it can offer.