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Although it’s worth stepping up to Panasonic’s MZ1500 range if you can afford it, the 55MZ980 nonetheless delivers beautifully subtle, refined and natural pictures that really do feel like they’ve come straight from a professional Hollywood mastering suite.


  • Beautifully balanced and subtle picture quality
  • Supports 4K/120Hz and VRR gaming features
  • Support for all four main HDR formats


  • Slightly expensive versus some rivals
  • Only two HDMIs support full v2.1 features
  • Not very bright by today’s OLED standards

Key Features

  • WRGB OLED panelThe 55MZ980 uses mid-specification WRGB OLED panel
  • Supports all four HDR formatsSupports HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR formats
  • Advanced gaming supportTwo HDMI ports have enough bandwidth for 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM
  • HCX Pro AI processorThe HCX Pro AI processor aims to deliver the most natural picture playback results in real time


Propelled by years of award-winning experience with plasma TVs, Panasonic is a force to be reckoned with with its OLED TVs, too.

Innovations such as developing processing and screen tuning in collaboration with actual Hollywood creatives, using brightness boosting heat sink hardware long before other brands followed suit, and introducing features usually only found on professional-grade mastering monitors to consumer products has won the Japanese brand a determined fan base prepared to dig relatively deep for pictures as the filmmakers intended.

Happily at £1549, the 55-inch TX-55MZ980 actually doesn’t require you to dig as deep as usual to get your hands on a slice of Panasonic’s OLED goodness. But does this mean there’s a big performance price to pay?


The £1549 price Panasonic’s own website currently asks for the 55MZ980, a £200 advantage over the step up 55MZ1500.

That’s enough of a difference to buy you a 4K Blu-ray player, or a (smallish) pile of 4K Blu-rays with which to unlock the 55MZ980’s full performance capabilities. As we’ll see later, though, saving £200 does cost you one potentially significant performance related feature.

The 55MZ980’s price doesn’t compare favourably at the time of writing with OLED rivals like LG’s OLED55C3 and Samsung’s QE55S90C both of which can currently be bought for £1199.

To be fair, these prices are essentially end of life fire-sale prices, with the two models’ replacements, the OLED55C4 and QE55S95D, already available and selling for £1899 and £1999 respectively.

Panasonic doesn’t currently sell TVs in the US or Australia, though ‘close relative’ MZW98 models can be found in Europe for around €2249.


  • Premium ‘one level’ fascia
  • Good build quality
  • Fairly deep rear panel

The 55MZ980 looks and feels more like a premium TV than a lower middle range one. Though of course, even a lower mid range Panasonic OLED is actually quite a high-end proposition by the standards of the TV world at large. Its bezel and the outer edges of its rear are both extremely slender, and I was struck while attaching it to its heavy-duty plate-style stand by how hefty and well built it is.

The Panasonic 55MZ980 is phenomenally thin at its outer edges.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The screen and its frame are covered by a glass sheet that attractively makes them appear to be on the same level, leaving as the only aesthetic gremlin the depth of the central section of the TV’s rear.

To be fair, when the TV is placed on its stand you won’t notice this chunky ‘midriff’ unless you’re sat at a pretty wide angle to the screen. It does make the TV a slightly clumsy-looking wall-hanging option, though.

Operating System

  • Easy to use
  • Some menus can be convoluted

The 55MZ980’s smart features and interface mark potentially the swan song for Panasonic’s proprietary My Home Screen system.

While I know that some reviewers don’t get along with its simplistic design and relatively unsophisticated set of features, I appreciate how easy the eighth generation of My Home Screen is to use and customise, and have little doubt that many regular users will like its relatively straightforward (though certainly not basic) approach to content finding and prioritisation.

Angle view of the Panasonic 55MZ980.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Panasonic has decided it’s time to move on, and will be shifting to a mixture of Amazon Fire TV and Google TV interfaces for its next generation of TVs.

The 55MZ980’s picture and sound set up menus are quite convoluted compared with its smart menus, but then it’s hard to complain too much about this when part of the reason they’re so longwinded is that they contain a much longer range of enthusiast-friendly adjustments than most TVs deign to provide.


  • 4K WRGB OLED panel
  • 4K/120Hz and VRR gaming support
  • Support for all four HDR formats

Looking right away for reasons why the 55MZ980 is cheaper than the 55MZ1500 reveals that while the cheaper model benefits from a fairly premium OLED EX panel, it doesn’t get the MZ1500’s heat sink element.

This means it won’t be as bright as the step up models – a fact confirmed by measured peak brightness on a 10% window of just over 704 nits, versus the 1000+ nits measured from the MZ1500. Though it does nudge close to 800 nits with a much smaller 2% window.

The 55MZ980 doesn’t benefit from the Micro Lens Array technology used in Panasonic’s current flagship MZ2000 series to deliver even more brightness than the MZ1500.

The 55MZ980’s 4K panel is powered by the same HCX Pro AI processor used in the more premium MZ1500 and MZ2000 OLED offerings. As its name suggests, this adds machine learning AI know how to the brand’s venerable HCX Pro system in its bid to optimise all aspects of picture quality, from colour and contrast through to clarity and motion.

Rear view of the Panasonic TX-55MZ980 OLED TV.
Photo: Trusted Reviews

The 55MZ980 also joins its more expensive siblings in supporting all four of the key high dynamic range video formats: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.

A built-in light sensor means the 55MZ980 even offers the HDR10+ Adaptive and Dolby Vision IQ modes, where the two premium HDR formats adapt their output based on the ambient light in a room. This excellently apolitical approach to the world of HDR ensures the TV will take in the best version of any content source you present it with.

Also continuing down from the MZ2000 and MZ1500 is picture tuning input from renowned Hollywood colorist and founder of professional mastering studio Company 3 Stefan Sonnenfeld, and support over two of the provided four HDMI ports for all the latest gaming features.

So Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 and PC owners can enjoy 4K at 120Hz, variable refresh rates including both the NVidia and AMD FreeSync formats, and auto low latency switching so the TV automatically kicks into its fastest response Game mode (which gets input lag down to a pretty good 14.5ms with 60Hz sources) when a game source is detected.

Gamers can also take advantage of a Game Control Board menu, showing game-specific signal information and features, and choose between two audio settings specifically configured for RPG and FPS game types.

While Panasonic’s self-proclaimed focus with its OLED TVs (and its plasma ones before) has long been to ‘bring Hollywood home’ by trying to match as closely as possible the look film creatives achieve in professional mastering studios, the 55MZ980 actually has an admirably long array of picture presets that cater for an impressively wide range of viewing conditions and tastes. I’m all in favour of such an open-minded approach to picture quality.

Especially when the TV’s most accurate modes, True Cinema and the UHD Alliance-designed Filmmaker mode, are clearly labelled as such.

Picture Quality

  • Beautifully subtle, nuanced pictures
  • Wide range of varied picture presets
  • Impressive video processing

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: namely that the 55MZ980 really does look noticeably less bright and dynamic than Panasonic’s MZ1500 and, especially, MZ2000 do. This is not exactly a surprise, of course; the clue’s in its lower price and luminance measurements.

But the reduction is arguably significant enough to make the extra £200 needed to step up to the 55MZ1500 look like money well spent if you can afford it. Especially if you typically find yourself watching TV in a bright room.

In almost every other respect, though, the 55MZ980’s pictures are really quite beautiful, sweating the small stuff in picture quality to the sort of sumptuous, immersive degree that professional colorists deploy while crafting filmmakers’ visions.

The level of light control from the 55MZ980 is particularly stellar. While it can’t achieve the brightness levels the MZ1500s can, its combination of exceptional image analysis/understanding and outstanding control of OLED’s self-emissive pixels delivers pictures that look punchier and more dynamic than our measured brightness figures would lead you to expect.

Dark areas of the picture enjoy deep, rich, natural and convincing black levels at all times, and benefit from outstanding delivery of the near black colours and details that can cause a noisy headache to TVs with less granular control over their OLED pixels. Even the faintest shadow details always appear clearly, cleanly and with just the right degree of weight – especially with the TV switched to one of its most cinematic picture presets.

As well as ensuring that you feel confident you’re seeing every detail of a 4K HDR master, no matter how small or faint, the 55MZ980’s ability to avoid fizzing noise and black crush in the darkest areas means that dark shots enjoy as much of a sense of depth as bright ones. This contributes to one of the most consistent viewing experiences I’ve ever had. And there’s nothing in the TV world that contributes more to immersion in what you’re watching than consistency.

While the Panasonic 55MZ980 is very thin at its edges, the central portion of its rear is actually unusually chunky.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The 55MZ980’s supreme control over its OLED panel means that it really can deliver its absolute brightest peak pixels right alongside it absolute darkest black pixels, without a hint of compromise between the two. This is especially true with Dolby Vision sources, but Panasonic’s HDR tone mapping of HDR10 content is also so perfectly attuned to the screen’s capabilities that every HDR source always feels like it’s looking as dynamic as it possibly could on a TV with a 700-800 nits brightness limit.

The 55MZ980’s excellent light precision contributes, too, both to a beautifully natural sense of sharpness and detail with native 4K sources, and gorgeously balanced and realistic colours. Panasonic’s decades of experience working with both self-emissive panels and film industry creatives feels irresistibly apparent in every skin tone, every dappled shade of forest greenery, every grain of sand in a desert, every shade of every hair on every nature documentary critter

Outside of a couple of the 55MZ980’s most aggressive presets, every tone is resolved with what feels like total authority and realism – and without any tone standing out too strongly against the rest.

The HCX Pro AI processor delivers some outstanding upscaling of sub-4K sources, as well as providing an effective judder reduction system with the relatively mild settings of its Intelligent Frame Creation motion processing engine.

As usual with OLED screens, the 55MZ980’s effective viewing angles are pretty much infinite, and I was pleasantly surprised by how little its screen was affected by reflections. A strength that helps takes the edge off the TV’s relative lack of brightness.

Left angle view of the Panasonic 55MZ980.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

There is one other flaw with the 55MZ980’s pictures beside their slight lack of brightness: some occasional striping or banding over what should be smooth colour blends in HDR content. This comes as a surprise given how well Panasonic’s TV handles every other subtle picture component – but luckily shots and scenes that cause it are quite rare.

Sound Quality

  • 2 x 15W speaker system
  • Dolby Atmos decoding
  • Dedicated RPG and FPS gaming sound modes

The 55MZ980’s audio set up doesn’t feature a forward facing speaker array like Panasonic’s MZ1500 range does. As a result it doesn’t deliver as much direct audio impact and room-filling immersion as its step-up sibling.

That doesn’t mean it’s actually a bad audio performer,. On the contrary, it typically sounds rather good by regular 55-inch TV standards.

For one thing, it’s capable of getting seriously loud – and it achieves this loudness without starting to sound brittle or overloaded until you get to a volume level well beyond anything most people will be comfortable with.

It also has enough power to combine its raw loudness with the ability to throw sound effects and scoring a good distance beyond the TV’s left and right sides, creating a convincingly large sound stage. The 55MZ980’s audio processing even manages to generate a slight sense of some effects coming from above the screen when you’re watching something with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

Detail of the Panasonic 55MZ980's connections.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The speakers are sensitive enough to present even the subtlest audio effects, but the sound processing is also aware enough to ensure that subtle effects stay subtle rather than getting too much prominence.

There’s a decent amount of bass depth and power to underpin the 55MZ980’s sound, too, and this is typically delivered without distortion or crackling interference.

Male voices can sound slightly thick and hummy from time to time, but neither this nor the lack of forward projection stop the 55MZ980 from sounding good enough to make adding a soundbar something to consider at your leisure, rather than an instant necessity.

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Should you buy it?

If you can’t afford the MZ1500

Your maximum budget is £1,550 and you want to get pictures that deliver the same sort of subtlety and balance as a professional mastering monitor.

You can afford the MZ1500

You can afford to step up to the brighter MZ1500 range, or you have a usually bright living room to contend with.

Final Thoughts

The Panasonic 55MZ980 doesn’t put on the same sort of blazing light show that some of today’s premium OLED TVs do. A fact which perhaps makes the step up 55MZ1500 look like a good value step-up alternative.

If £1600 is as far as your budget will stretch, the stunning subtlety, balance, naturalism and (if you want it) accuracy of the 55MZ1500’s pictures is pretty much impossible for serious home cinema fans – the sort of people who wouldn’t dream of watching a film without drawing the curtains or dimming down the lights – not to love.

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How we test

We test every television we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Tested across several days

Benchmarked with Spears and Munsil disc

Tested with real world use

Gaming input lag measured


What specification is the 55MZ980’s screen?

The MZ980 range use premium EX panels, but don’t benefit from either heat sink or micro lens array brightness-boosting technologies.

What is HCX Pro AI?

This is Panasonic’s proprietary picture processing engine, incorporating contributions from cinema industry experts and AI machine learning systems.

What HDR formats can the 55MZ980 support?

The 55MZ980 can support all four of the main HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.

Trusted Reviews test data

Input lag (ms)
Peak brightness (nits) 2%
Peak brightness (nits) 10%
Peak brightness (nits) 100%

Full specs

Screen Size
Size (Dimensions)
Size (Dimensions without stand)
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Types of HDR
Refresh Rate TVs
HDMI (2.1)
Audio (Power output)
Display Technology

Jargon buster


OLED EX is a panel technology created by LG Display that uses a different material (deuterium) than older panels to help increase brightness


HDR10+ is a HDR format supported by Panasonic and Samsung as a free to use, open platform alternative to Dolby Vision. It adds dynamic metadata on top of the core HDR10 signal that tells a TV how it should adjust the brightness, colours and contrast of content for the most optimal picture quality.

HDR10+ Adaptive

Like Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+ Adaptive uses a TV's light sensor to adjust luminance, colours and black levels according to the amount of ambient light in a room for the best picture at all times


HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and refers to contrast (or difference) between the brightest and darkest parts of an image. HDR content preserves details in the darkest and brightest areas of a picture, details that are often lost in old imaging standards. HDR10 is mandated to be included on all HDR TVs. It’s also supported by 4K projectors.

Dolby Vision

Dolby Vision is a variant of HDR, adding a layer of dynamic metadata to the core HDR signal. This dynamic metadata carries scene-by-scene (or frame-by-frame) instructions from content creators on how a TV should present the images to improve everything from brightness to contrast, detailing and colour reproduction.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format. It expands on 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks by adding overhead channels. Sounds are referred to as “audio objects”, of which there can be up to 128 audio channels, and these ‘objects’ can be accurately positioned within a 3D soundscape. This allows soundtracks that support the technology to place sounds above and around the listener with compatible kit.

Variable Refresh Rates

Variable Refresh Rate enable a game console/PC to send video frames as quick as possible to a display, with the screen adapting its own refresh rate in real-time to match the source, reducing visual artefacts and offering a more responsive performance

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