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.