Monday, 21 November 2016 07:54

LG OLED TVs are getting better – hard to improve on perfection!

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When LG first launched OLED TV in Australia, the media/reviewers were all gobsmacked. Blacks were black, colours were natural, brightness/contrast was excellent. But that was in the days of pre 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision and content that demanded anything other than a good HD OLED panel to get the best image.

To prove how good the third-generation LG OLED panel is, Angus Jones, general manager Marketing for LG invited a motley crew of IT and entertainment journalists to join him in the darkened INXS suite and Sydney’s fashionable Ovolo Hotel at Woolloomooloo. He plied them liberally with libations and vittles and impressed on the Illuminati present that times, and panels, had changed.

To do this, he had three 65” LG OLED TVs side by side. One, a second generation EG960T model, one the new B6T and the top of the range, immensely desirable and eye watering expensive G6T Signature.

Let’s just say that I thought the EG960T was “the best” until Jones demonstrated 4K, Dolby Vision content (now available from Netflix and on Blu-ray) on the other two.

First a few facts. OLED is not cheap. That is why LG (and everyone else) also make 4K LCD screens that start at about $1000 – LG’s lowest cost 55”, B6T OLED is $4199.

Does OLED give better viewing quality? Oh yeah! Put the best LCD smart TVs with HDR (High Dynamic Range) from LG; Samsung with its very good quantum dot technology; Sony X-Reality, X-tended, Triluminous Dynamic Range (Sony love marketing hype); Panasonic VA backlit; beside OLED and you can see a huge visible difference.

Does OLED have any issues? No, the screen is rated for 30,000 hours’ half-life (that is more than 10 years at 8 hours a day!), there is no burn-in (as happened with static images on Plasma), it has lower power use, and, as far as I can see, no downside in owning one.

So why are they so expensive? The answer is that LG is currently the only manufacturer of large format OLED screens and the yield is barely sufficient to meet OLED demand. It is on its third-generation panel.

But Chinese firms are gearing up, initially to make small panels (for smartphones and computer monitors) and over the coming years will gain expertise in larger format panels. LG is also surging ahead in trials of a new fourth/fifth generation OLED panel that is produced by “ink jet” printing methods. Sadly, it is a good five years away before we see the price gap closing between LCD and OLED. By then who knows what technology will be best?

Back to the difference Dolby Vision and HDR makes to an image.

HDR (along with all manner of names like 10, Premium or Plus) means the high dynamic range of contrast/luminosity (not colours) is enhanced in light and dark areas. Where non-HDR panels tend to wash out in high contrast or lose any definition in low contrast (shadow), HDR uses special metadata encoded in the video stream to add details.

Dolby Vision takes HDR and optimises it scene by scene, frame by frame, with dynamic metadata. The chip in LG’s new OLED TVs can adjust the level of individual pixels. Dolby Vision is backwards compatible with HDR.

We viewed Dolby Vision content streamed straight from Netflix (Marvel’s Universe is right up there with this), and the results were amazing. I apologise for the lack of photographic evidence. Let’s just say that an image of the sun was totally washed out on HDR, yet had good definition and tone using Dolby Vision. Similarly, where details in shadow were vaguely evident in HDR they were crystal clear in Dolby Vision. Given that the dynamic range is considerably expanded colours were more lifelike and skin tones more real.

Back to LG, 4K OLED.

Aussies are the second fastest in the uptake of OLED per capita in the world. OLED now makes up about 6% of all sales and research is showing its popularity is solely due to picture quality and the ability or aspiration to afford it.

Australians prefer flat screens, but LG has both flat and curved.

The 2016/17 4K OLED range includes:

Model Size RRP

HDR

Enabled

Dolby Vision ™

Netflix

Recommended TV

65G6T 65”

$9,999

Y Y Y
65E6T 65”

$8,399

Y Y Y
55E6T 55”

$5,699

Y Y Y
65B6T 65”

$6,799

Y Y Y
55B6T 55”

$4,199

Y Y Y
65C6T (curved) 65”

$6,799

Y Y Y
55C6T (curved) 55”

$4,199

Y Y Y

All have LG’s webOS 3.0; Netflix/Stan/FreeviewPlus; Miracast/Wi-Di/Wi-Fi/Ethernet/Bluetooth; 2.2 channel harman/kardon sound; HDD recording; 4K upscale; 4.5 energy star ratings; and one-year warranty.

Having coveted one for so long I can say that some astute arm twisting at JBs over the weekend for the 65B6T saw the price drop from $6799 to $4698 with free delivery and set-up thrown in – so maybe it is time to go for the OLED! Ah, but I would need a 4K Blu-ray player and a new 4K pass-through AV amp and some speakers...

Dolby Vision


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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