The Best HDTV for 2014

November 2, 2014

I recently was invited to see LG’s award-winning OLED TV, the 55″ LG EC9300 in person. The event hosted by LG in downtown Boston, directly compared their set to Samsung’s 4K LED, the 55HU9000. I won’t keep you in suspense, the LG EC9300 had the best picture I had ever seen. The LG OLED has near infinite black levels and contrast ratio. To sum it up, OLED is just a superior technology compared to LED/LCD and plasma TVs.

OLED has many advantages over plasma and LED. Compared to plasma, OLED sets weigh much less and consume much less power. Where OLED outshines both LEDs and plasma is with black levels. Since each OLED pixel is self illuminated, it has the ability to turn itself off completely, creating a true black. Plasmas and LEDs are backlit so only an area, not individual pixels can be turned off. On a solid black screen, you still see a slight glow. Without having to package a backlight, it gives OLED panels a thinner profile. Over time, it should lower manufacturing costs. Until then plasma and LED still have one advantage over OLEDs: price. You can get last year’s (and still) award winning 60″ Samsung F8500 plasma for under $2,000 (under $1,200 if you drop down to the 51″). However, the prices of OLED should continue to drop. Just a couple of years ago, the first OLEDs had prices well over $10,000. It would help if more brands besides Samsung and LG offered OLED sets.

This tour is a victory lap for LG’s OLED. The EC9300 recently took top honors with the Samsung F8500 at the highly regarded Value TV shootout where professional calibrators and A/V professionals spend a couple of days evaluating the current year’s sets side by side. David Katzmaier from CNET stated that the LG EC9300 has the best picture he has ever seen but does state that the video processing could be improved. During the demo, I actually noticed some judder or jerkiness during a wide angle camera pan while the Skyfall blu-ray played. It’s not clear to me if this was an issue with the OLED or with the Blu-ray itself. However, I’m wondering if we’ll see a firmware update in the future that addresses the video processing issues cited by CNET.

There’s one feature that LG did not tout that gives it a leg up on other sets in the market. LG’s set looked much better compared to Samsung’s top of the line LED panel. It seemed like there was too much of a disparity. Why? I asked if either set had been professionally calibrated or adjusted. LG responded that both sets were using in “standard” mode using their default settings. This was apparent as the Samsung’s TruMotion image processing was enabled whereas the LG appeared to have the equivalent setting off. TruMotion gives the picture the creepy soap-opera effect. I’m sure the other picture settings on the Samsung were not set optimally for the dimly lit room but instead for a retail setting. Usually, sets have their brightness and contract were jacked up too high to stand out. LG’s advantage is that their TV’s default settings actually look good in a variety of settings right out of the box.  Score another point for OLED.

If the best picture is not enough for you, the LG EC9300′s Smart TV UI is clean and not cluttered like other Smart TV interfaces on the market. LG’s UI is different, pleasing to the eye and functional.  LG’s included Wii-like Magic Remote is an added bonus.

So, as I left the event, I asked several other attendees what they thought of the set. Everyone was blown away by the picture and thought it beat the Samsung hands down. However, no one said they were going to go out and buy one. Why? One attendee summed it up well, “I usually watch TV on my phone or tablet”. There’s the real competition for the new king of HDTV.

The new king of HDTV, the LG EC9300

The new king of HDTV, the LG EC9300


Tags: HDTV, LED, LG, OLED, plasma, Samsung

3 Responses to The Best HDTV for 2014

  1. Chucky on November 3, 2014 at 9:15 am

    “Over time, it should lower manufacturing costs. Until then plasma and LED still have one advantage over OLEDs: price”

    I wonder how long until price comes down to my HDTV purchase point. 2 years? 3 years? More?

    Definitely been deferring buying a new set until OLED’s hit mainstream price points. I wonder if 4K will hit the multicast before that happens, delaying things even more.

    (Tangentially, while 36 pounds is obviously a dramatic improvement over LCD models, I was actually kinda expecting the improvement to be even more dramatic. Wonder if that’ll improve over time, or if that’s just around what OLED’s will always spec out at.)

    “However, no one said they were going to go out and buy one. Why? One attendee summed it up well, “I usually watch TV on my phone or tablet”. There’s the real competition for the new king of HDTV.”

    Those folks are nuts. Tablets and phones definitely have their place, but the lean-back is where you really watch, if you have any actual interest in high-quality teevee, and pretty much any movies. They’re like the same nutso folks who still rent/buy DVD’s when Blu-Rays are available.

    Watching shows on your phone is radio with intermittent pictures. Might be nice for the gym or transit, but seriously now…

  2. Gabe Gagliano on November 3, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    I’m also a fan of a big screen and big sound in the living room. It seems like the preference for the small screen or better yet the lack of interest in the big screen seems to be generational. Maybe that’s what teens and 20 somethings are just used to.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if OLEDs hit lower price points in 2 to 3 years. The biggest impediment is that LG is the only company serious about manufacturing large OLED screens. I just came across this article stating that Samsung is instead going to focus on “quantum dot” LCDs and not release any new OLEDs in the near future:

  3. Michael on November 18, 2014 at 9:36 am

    We had a dusting accident over the weekend that resulted in a cracked plasma screen. Within two hours I was back from my local big box with a bottom of the line 60″ Samsung plasma. I really wanted to wait for OLED to drop in price and go up in size but $855 with tax out the door leaves plenty of cash in my pocket for budget bin Blu-ray discs.

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