OLED TVs are usually good for two things: contrast and their ultra-thin design. Even by those standards, LG’s new Signature W7 Wallpaper OLED is absolutely breathtaking.
At just 2.57mm thin, it’s slimline enough to almost hang flush to any wall and hangs off a wall bracket with the help of magnets. Naturally, it’ll do the business with a whole host of 4K and HDR content as well. If you’ve got what’s likely to be several thousand pounds going spare, the Wallpaper OLED should be top of your shopping list.
We've now seen the TV in action at a couple of events - here are our thoughts ahead of the full review.
LG W7 Design: the world's thinnest TV
A lot of lovely TVs have been announced this year, but this Wallpaper OLED is undoubtedly the best-looking set yet. Available in 77- or 65-inch variants, it really is a beauty to behold.
How has LG been able to make a TV that’s only 1/10 of an inch thick? That’s all down to its OLED tech, where each pixel illuminates itself individually. In comparison, more traditional TVs like Samsung’s QLED models use LCD panels that rely on a backlight to operate. Since OLEDs don’t require a backlight, the LG is able to make the Wallpaper W7 as thin as a pound coin. It’s a TV that’s fit for the Queen.
This ultra-thin build isn’t flawless though, because it means all of the connections and processing gubbins have to be housed somewhere else - in this case in a separate unit that doubles-up as a soundbar. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but what's a little disappointing is that the ribbon-cable that runs between the Wallpaper panel and the soundbar isn't in-wall rated, so you'll see it running between the two elements. Not exactly a big deal, but it is a bit of a zit on an otherwise super-sexy appearance.
Want to see how flexible the screen is and how easy it is to mount on the wall? Check this out!
LG W7 picture: brighter than ever before
As is typical at pre-launch TV events, LG has only so far shown the Wallpaper OLED running special 4K HDR test footage that’s designed to showcase the superb contrast capabilities that are inherent to OLEDs. While that certainly doesn't tell the full story of how the TV will perform in the real world, there's no denying that at its best the W7 is seriously impressive, with OLED's ability to illuminate individual pixels resulting in deep blacks and vibrant shades of colour that sit right next to one other in pin-sharp detail. And that's just the start of its abilities.
While OLEDs are always lauded for this contrast expertise, they're occasionally criticised for not being as bright as their tradionally backlit rivals - something that LG's seeking to address by upping the peak brightness of its 2017 models. To that end, the W7 (and its siblings, the G7, E7, C7 and B7) is 25% brighter than the company's previous OLEDs. True, its 1000nit rating still isn't up there with the 1500-2000nits of Samsung's QLEDs, but it's a big improvement, and a little sacrifice in peak brightness really isn't a big deal when you consider OLED's other abilities.
Naturally, this set delivers HDR and then some, offering support for not one, but four HDR formats: the now fairly commonplace HDR10 and the more advances Dolby Vision, plus the rarer (at least right now) High Log-Gamma and Technicolor's Advanced HDR. Don’t know what those all do? You can read our HDR explainer here, or you can simply not worry about it. The important thing is that LG’s W7 has all of them, and that buying one will make you as future-proofed as it's ever possbible to be in the land of gadgets.
LG W7 sound: Dolby Atmos audio
As mentioned above, the extreme thinness of the LG Signature W means there's no room around the panel for speaker. The answer? A bundled soundbar.
But this is no ordinary soundbar - this is a Dolby Atmos soundbar, which means it's - at least in theory - able to produce a surround sound effect not just around you, but also above you.
We were pretty sceptical about how good the sound from this one-box solution could be, but having now heard it in action we're actually quite impressed. This relatively slim unit can create a seriously room-filling sound with effects that appear distinctively above you.
Admittedly, we heard the speaker in a purpose-built demo room that was perfectly rectangular and had very reflective surfaces - so the perfect environment for bouncing sound off walls in order to generate that virtual surround sound effect. Whether the performance will be quite as accomplished in a more typical living room remains to be seen, but it's certainly fair to say that the concept works well.
A proper surround sound system will of course still sound better, especially when it comes to pin-pointing specific effects in the surround field, which is why it's a bit of a shame that LG isn't launching a version of the W7 without the soundbar. Yes, you'd still need an external unit for the processors and inputs and all of that jazz, but it could be much smaller and easier to hide, not to mention potentially cheaper. As it is, those people who've already got a sound solution still have to take and find a place for the chunky soundbar, which is just a little bit of a shame.
LG W7 webOS 3.5: VR-ready TV
And if that’s not enough TV wizardry for you, then LG’s webOS 3.5 update now includes support for 360 degree VR content. Just connect a VR-capable PC or smartphone to the W7 via USB and you’ll be able to scroll around the scene using the Magic Remote handset. That same remote has also been updated for binge-watching pros thanks to a dedicated button for your favourite streaming services, e.g. Netflix or Amazon.
Aside from some iterative updates to its Magic Link and Zoom features - for accessing info on what you’re watching and zooming in on an image - this year’s version of webOS isn’t all that different from its previous incarnation. That's ok, though, because webOS is easily one of the most pleasant TV UIs out there.
LG Wallpaper OLED W7: the early verdict
So that’s the shape of LG’s Wallpaper OLED W7, and what an impressive TV it is.
Set to launch around April this year, it won’t be long until we’re able to try it out for review. If it’s picture quality lives up to that jaw-dropping design then we’ll have quite the telly on our hands.
It's worth pointing out, though, that every OLED model in LG's 2017 TV range uses the same panel and has the same processing bits, so if you were happy to forego the Signature W's stunning design you could theoretically get the same picture quality for (presumably) a lot less cash.
You can click here for a full breakdown of the LG OLED range, and we'll have full reviews of every one of them as soon as samples are available.