It’s a period of uncertainty in TV land. Plasma screens have taken a bow and LCDs are all the rage, but more than one emerging technology is lining up to be the next big thing.
Pixel -packed 4K has been around, in the upper end of the price spectrum, for a while. But while there are some great 4K TVs (The awesome Samsung UE55HU7500, for example), they’re still waiting for people to start making anything to watch in 4K.
OLED TVs have been around longer still, but while they were always full of potential, they were also hilariously expensive. So it’s with great interest that we fire up the LG 55EC930V, a 1080p OLED wonderscreen that is – just about – getting into the realms of affordability.
READ MORE: Samsung UE55HU7500 4K TV review
OLED BUT GOLD
OLED (organic light-emitting diode, fact fans) screens have self-illuminating pixels, which give them an edge over traditional screens. They don’t need the superheated gases of plasma tech, which contribute softness and picture noise.
And because they emit their own light, there’s no need for the thickness-adding, imprecise panel backlight you get with LCDs. It’s a far simpler structure, which gives manufacturers great flexibility in design.
The tech isn’t new. Back in 2007, you could bag yourself an 11in OLED screen for around £3000. More recently, they’ve been making their rounds in some smartphones and smartwatches. Next stop: your living room.
LG’s own take on OLED means adding a white sub-pixel to the standard RGB (red, green, blue), which promises to enhance colour range and accuracy.
WHY THE CURVED FACE?
Curved screens are the flavour of the year, although we suspect that’s more for design reasons than for picture quality reasons. The mumbling about following the curvature of eyeballs hasn’t quite convinced us.
But having said that, in the right position some will find a curve such as this a little more immersive than a flat screen. Straight-on viewing is ideal, but anywhere within about 30 degrees from centre is fine.
Get outside that and it gets a little weird: the picture doesn’t taper away uniformly, and one edge will look oddly foreshortened. Then again, we don’t tend to watch TV sideways.
So is the curve necessary? We don’t think so. Does it make the TV look extra special? It sure does.
BEST. SCREEN. EVER.
We’ll just say it: this is a stunning screen in action. The levels of contrast and dynamism are a revelation. Blacks are deep enough to convince you the screen is off. That’s skilfully juggled with dazzling whites and punchy, vibrant hues.
Details are sharp, but not in an overly compensatory way: insight comes from the display’s wonderful clarity, finely drawn textures, and disciplined edges. There’s no light bleed, ever. No, it’s not 4K. But when 1080p Full HD looks this good, you won’t be counting pixels.
Do take a few moments to tinker with the settings. If the OLED levels are too high, you’ll end up losing subtlety in brighter areas. Leave it at around 70 per cent. Motion processing should be minimal, or else Guardians of the Galaxy will look like an episode of a Mexican soap opera.
Tear your eyes from the pretty picture and there’s still plenty to admire. LG has done wonders on the design front. The screen is remarkably thin. Most of it is no thicker than a pane of glass.
Holding it up is a single, symmetrical leaf of metal. Its simple elegance elevates the TV from a well-performing machine to showroom furniture. Houseguests will sing your praises laced with envy. You can actually wall mount it if you like, and a wall-mounted curved screen is almost as impressive to our eyes.
It’s not just pretty, but fully loaded too: connections include four HDMI 1.4 sockets and three USB 2.0 ports. The sound’s a bit thin, however – not unusual for such slim screens. If you’re buying a TV this posh, we’d heartily recommend picking up an equally posh sound system to match.
Screen size: 55in
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Display technology: OLED
Speaker output: 40W
Built-in camera: no
Connectivity: Freeview, HDMI 2.0 (x4), USB (x3), Component, Composite, Scart, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Headphone, Optical output
Dimensions (hwd): 753 x 1225 x 204mm with stand, 715 x 1225 x 80mm without stand
Weight: 22.4kg with stand, 14.4kg without stand
POINT AND SLICK
You get two remote controls: a regular button stick and a banana-shaped smart remote. This uses gyroscopic sensors to operate an on-screen pointer, so you can point and click your way around.
LG’s slick WebOS interface arranges all your sources in a single line of colourful tiles. Switching from web-based apps to local inputs is as easy as skipping channels. That means no more faffing about with smart hubs.
The app offering is good: main attractions include Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Now TV, Youtube and BBC iPlayer. No sign of 4oD or ITV Player, however.
LG 55EC930V Verdict
The LG 55EC930V is a stonkingly good TV.
Yes, we could spend all day fretting about all the 4K that we may miss out on at some point in the future. And of course the combination of OLED and 4K is the ultimate goal. But from what the big boys of TV are telling us it sounds as though that pinnacle of TV tech is still years away from being something normal people will be able to afford.
So right here, right now, you need to make a choice, and instead of fretting over the future of TV tech, why not make all of the stuff you already watch look as amazing as it possibly can? That's the LG OLED way.
READ MORE: The 10 Best TVs in the World right now