Panasonic has announced its first OLED television, the 4K TX-65CZ950, will be available in Europe starting in October.
LG will soon no longer be the only manufacturer selling OLED TVs.
Panasonic announced its first OLED television, the TX-65CZ950, earlier this week at the IFA trade show in Berlin, Germany. The Japanese consumer giant, which has faded from the TV market after folding its plasma sales in 2013, becomes the second major manufacturer after Korea's LG to offer TVs utilizing OLED tech.
Unlike the LCD TVs that make up the vast majority of units sold, OLED doesn't require a backlight because the pixels in the screen can be individually switched on or off, resulting in perfect blackness in parts of the screen where nothing is showing. The result is a picture with near-ideal contrast, which -- in LG's implementation, at least -- produces the best picture quality we've ever seen . OLED TVs can also be thinner and lighter than their LCD counterparts, but the panels remain expensive and challenging to build.
The 65-inch Panasonic is a 4K Ultra HD model, meaning it offers four times the resolution of high-definition televisions. It's also compatible with HDR (high-dynamic range) which offers even better contrast with compatible source material, though the standards are still being worked out.
Panasonic says its Absolute Black Gradation Drive is better than competing televisions at producing colors near absolute black. That said, the competition with models like the LG EG9600 will be intense, as they offered the best blacks we've seen to date.
Unfortunately for videophiles, the television will be curved, and even Panasonic says " the benefit for the customer is not so big." If you want a flat Pana, you will have to wait till the next one rolls out, the company says.
Despite numerous attempts to produce a single, unifying operating system for all TVs the landscape is still fractured, and Panasonic has chose yet another newcomer for its 2015 crop. The CZ950 will feature a smart TV system based on the Firefox OS, and is the first high-profile television manufacturer to do so.
Panasonic is no stranger to producing high-end televisions with past offerings such as the Z1 and the Kuro-killing ZT60 , but the CZ950 will be the company's most expensive "consumer" model yet: The television will be available in Europe in October 2015 for £7,999 or €10,000. US and Australian pricing and availability have yet to be announced, but that roughly converts to $11,150 or AU$16,130 -- nearly double the price of LG's current OLED 65-inchers.
Having ultimately failed to popularize plasma over LCD will Panasonic fare better with OLED? The company certainly has the know-how to produce eye-poppingly good plasma TVs, and this could translate to OLED as plasma is also a self-illuminating technology. OLED is still so new and so expensive to produce it will take some time before it is ready for the mainstream, but having more competition in the space is certainly a good start.
For more of the best of IFA 2015, see CNET's complete coverage.