It is not often that a product comes along that knocks your socks off. The new range of OLED TV’s from LG is one of these products. LG’s latest OLED TV’s are in a word, amazing, from the quality construction, picture, and even the sound. The LG OLED TV is revelatory. These new LG OLED TV’s are a significant step forward, well beyond any other TV currently on the market. Steven Ambrose spent quality time with the 55” LG curved 55EG960T.
OLED the next generation TV
A brief history of OLED displays gives context to how significant an advancement these 2016 LG OLED TV’s are. When OLED first came out commercially, they were tiny 12.5” units which Sony released in 2007. Sony set a ridiculous price of USD 2500-00. Sony launched this mini marvel at CES in Las Vegas, and it was truly a revelation. The picture was incredible, all on a ridiculously thin sheet of glass.
It took many years to commercialise this technology. After three generations of improvements, the 2016 LG OLED TV’s are finally here, LG offers many models, both curved and flat, in 55” and 65” sizes. The features differ, but they all share the same panel and basic feature set.
OLED TV’s have a few distinct advantages over the now ubiquitous LED or LCD TV. The main difference is that the OLED pixels are self-illuminating. The benefits sound simple but are revolutionary. Gone is all form of lighting behind the panel. Construction of these panels is easier and will also get cheaper than current LCD panels.
The result is almost perfect black levels. Excellent blacks are the holy grail of display technology. Manufacturers employ all manner of technological trickery to optimise and maximise contrast in almost every single LCD-based TV panel available today. None of this trickery is necessary for OLED displays.
Black or the complete absence of light is the key feature of a good picture. No LCD or LED TV can approximate true black. OLED can and it shows. OLED contrast ratios are an order of magnitude better than current LCD TV’s. The importance of contrast is that the picture quality is dependent on the amount of difference between light and dark. The greater this difference, the better. OLED TV’s with almost infinite contrast, offer a level of accuracy in colour and contrast that is unique.
The LG OLED TV’s have the ability to portray perfect blacks all the way down to individual pixels. As a result of the LG OLED TV’s ability to represent contrast, grey scale, as well as colour, is incredible. Seeing is believing. Dark scenes become a wealth of details and subtle information, gone are the hard to see scenes as soon as the lights dim.
There is simply no blurry, low-detail smearing of night scenes, as in many competitive LCD TV’s. Clarity of this level is hard to live without once you have experienced it. Give the LG a good high-resolution signal and the TV’s ability to show delicate detail in the darkest scenes, even contrasted with bright points of light on the same scene is nothing short of phenomenal.
If this were the only benefit, it would have been enough. LG have gone even further, the colour accuracy, lack of smearing, and super wide viewing angles make these the closest to perfect TV’s I have yet to see.
LG have also included the very latest in TV technology. The new range of OLED TV’s are all 4k UHD resolution, which is 4 x the quality of standard HD TV’s, and fed with even a decent HD signal the LG upscales and present the picture beautifully.
If possible give the LG OLED TV a clean 4k signal. Content with 4k HDR resolution will result in a level of sharpness, subtlety, and depth of the picture, which will knock your socks off. To make things even better LG have also included the latest HDR technology which again improves the image significantly even beyond 4K UHD resolution.
A perfect example of how good the OLED TV can be is watching the Netflix drama Marco Polo, which streams in 4k HDR. The sheer detail, subtle colours, as well as shading in dark indoor scenes, is incredible, the LG OLED TV takes TV viewing to literally another dimension.
The LG OLED TV is not perfect. There are three issues I must mention. The first problem worth mentioning is absolute brightness. In comparison, the latest TV’s from Samsung with their SUHD nanoparticle technology, are brighter by far than the LG. OLED technology does not currently allow such levels of brightness.
The benefit of this is that in daylight, or environments with bright lighting, the brighter TV’s will stand out. In these circumstances, the LG OLED TV can seem a little dull in comparison.
On the flip side of this, when the light is low, in the evening or without bright daylight, the unbelievable contrast becomes far more important than the absolute maximum brightness. Here the LG stands heads and shoulders above all other TV’s due to the absolute contrast advantage of OLED technology.
The sound from slim televisions is also never great. The LG is super thin with the speakers and electronics in the lower slightly thicker part of the TV. Harman Kardon tuned the units sound and it is decent, but not stellar, especially in large rooms. You should invest in a sound bar, sound system, or external speakers.
I found, also, that the standard picture settings are good but not great. I needed to tweak the picture, which took the picture results from great to astounding. The other settings, vivid, sport, and cinema, were also flawed in some ways as well.
LG offers a further two expert modes; you should select either one. Once selected, switch off all digital enhancements and trickery, such as deep black enhancement, noise reductions, set all settings to off. Making these adjustments transformed the picture from good to absolutely fantastic. Every input and every content type benefited from this configuration. It was not hard to do and should be the default.
The LG OLED TV’s are smart internet connected TV’s. LG employs their proprietary intuitive operating system called WebOS 3.0 to run the TV. WebOS allows you to download apps such as ShowMax and Netflix, as well as manage all aspects of your interaction with the TV. Good news is that the Netflix app is 4K ready as well. The web browsing and YouTube apps are well implemented and usable. Connecting the LG to your Wi-Fi or network cable is simple and essential.
The remote is a Wi style remote, with an on-screen gesture-controlled cursor. Setting up and operating the LG OLED TV is easy and intuitive. The remote was a pleasure to use, and the cursor worked across all apps. The included remote is one of the best remotes I have used. The review model had only three HDMI inputs, and this proved just sufficient. You will need an AV Amplifier for more HDMI inputs.
In my estimation, the 2016 LG OLED TV’s are a definite leap ahead in TV performance. The picture, correctly set up, is nothing short of revelatory. Other TV’s do not come close. The curve of the model I reviewed was perfect, and the viewing angles were outstanding. Every piece of content revealed new detail. This detail submerges you in the performance like no other TV I have ever experienced.
OLED technology is already ubiquitous in many smartphones. OLED will become more affordable and available in the next few years. As price drops, size will grow for large TV and other displays. LG have shown us that OLED is the way to the future of display technology.
The prices of the new OLED TV range are high. The performance justifies the prices considering the cutting edge technology. My only problem now is what do I have to sell to get the 65” model.
For more information, go to http://www.lg.com/za/tvs/all-tvs