When LG launched its first OLED screen last year – the 55EC930V – we fell in love. It was everything we’d hoped for from OLED: deep, luscious blacks and punchy, bright colours. But it wasn’t 4K.
This TV is. And that marriage of 4K and OLED is what our wildest telly-tech dreams are made of.
You’re all familiar with 4K’s pixel-packing four-times-full-HD resolution by now. But what’s the deal with OLED? Unlike normal LCD screens that need backlighting to make a picture, OLED pixels generate their own light and colour, so when a pixel turns off, it goes totally pitch black, and it can be right next to another pixel that’s pumping our pure, brilliant white.
That means contrast can be breathtakingly brilliant, but also that images are brighter and punchier overall. LG takes it a step further by adding a fourth white pixel to the standard RGB model for even more accurate colours.
So OLED goes blacker than plasma and brighter than LCD - throw pin-sharp 4K resolution into the mix and you’ve got the very best screen we’ve ever laid our eyes on.
Pretty as a very pretty picture
The contrast is unbelievable: black scenes are so deep and dark we’re mesmerised. Next to that, whites shine brilliantly, and colours pop and punch without looking overdone. It’s 55 inches of pure TV heaven.
There’s no swallowing of detail like in previous OLED screens, either. There’s clarity and subtlety within shadows, while colours are lush and deep. 4K was made to be watched on this screen: the picture is crisp, the detail sky high, and there’s a sense of depth thanks to the deeper blacks.
You don’t just have to watch 4K to feel the benefit, though. Blu-rays and full HD channels are upscaled deftly, retaining that punchy contrast, and crisp definition. We can barely tear our eyes away from the explosions of colour in Pacific Rim, while the warm, natural hues of The Imitation Game are inviting.
We’ve all seen Gravity in 3D. But have you seen Gravity in 3D and OLED? Not only is LG’s passive 3D technology comfortable, but the vast expanse of deep space looks so pitch black that we feel like we’re getting physically sucked in. One caveat: motion needs a bit of help, so have a tinker with the TV’s settings.
Netflix is the daddy of 4K streaming content, and not just for Breaking Bad and House of Cards. New on the 4K TV show menu are Better Call Saul, Marco Polo and the Wachowski’s Sense8, but we’re most excited about Marvel’s Daredevil and AKA Jessica Jones. If only the 4K deal extended to Marvel’s films...
Prime Instant Video Netflix has glitzier shows, but Amazon takes the cake when it comes to 4K films. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Elysium, Moneyball, Godzilla, and American Hustle are some of the latest titles available (for a small charge). Amazon’s original shows (Bosch, Transparent) aren’t half bad, either.
Want something more exciting than scenic landscapes and bowls of fruit in 4K? Check out GoPro’s channel for some real-world action, where you can watch first-hand accounts of adventurers climbing an iceberg or descending into volcanic lava - all in glorious 4K.
The screen floats. No, really.
OK, not really. But it appears to, because LG has created an invisible (alright, transparent) stand that creates the illusion of the super-slim screen floating in mid-air. It’s achingly pretty.
The screen is curved, but gently so. It’s wonderfully immersive if you’re sitting right in front of the TV, but those watching from an angle will see a picture that doesn’t quite uniformly taper off. It’s subtle enough that we can forgive it. Just about.
But here’s where OLED’s party trick kicks in. The colour-fading issue that plagues curved LCD screens if you’re looking at them from even a slight angle? It’s nowhere to be seen here. OLED’s tech means that even if you’re watching the TV sideways, the contrast stays strong and the colours remain vivid. Brilliant.
The thinner the screen, the thinner the sound: it’s an adage as old as time. Or at least as old as flatscreen TVs. To fix that, LG teamed up with US audio giant Harman Kardon to design the TV’s speakers.
The two downward-firing speakers (10W each) are built into the TV set, and they’re robust, smooth and detailed enough for watching MasterChef. Voices are loud and clear.
Truth is, though, if you’re dishing out that much money on such a spectacular TV, you’ll want to do it justice by pairing it up with a proper 5.1 surround sound package. Those epic space battles in Star Trek, Guardians Of The Galaxy and the like will thank you for it.
Until you do, the LG’s audio quality is good enough. It can sound a little cramped, so switch from Standard to Cinema mode for a more spacious, open sound.
LG’s slick and colourful WebOS interface is a delight to use. The updated 2.0 version is faster and more streamlined: apps open instantly, animations are fluid, and the new shortcuts make life easier.
All your sources are arranged in neat tiles at the bottom of the screen, so switching between on-demand apps and local inputs is swift and unobtrusive.
Speaking of apps, Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant are your best bet for 4K content (along with the odd video from YouTube), while BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 offer catch-up TV services. There’s still no ITV Player or 4OD on LG's platform, though.
LG has finally given its Magic Remote buttons, so you don’t have to faff about with two remotes. The single remote has shortcut buttons, a scrolling wheel, and a gyroscope to control the on-screen cursor. That pointing-and-clicking will divide opinion, but it works.
You can also speak commands to the TV: a genial, casual request to switch channels was accurately and swiftly transcribed, and then it did it. *applause*
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work within third-party apps, so you can’t tell it to fire up that BBC Four documentary from where you left off. Yes, we still feel silly saying things to the TV when we can just quietly (and quickly) press a button, but it’s no bad thing if the technology improves and you don't have to use it if you don't want to.
LG 55EG960V verdict
The LG 55EG960V is a gorgeous TV. Yes, it’s also on the pricey side, but remember you’re paying a premium for new telly technology. And don’t forget that as OLED becomes more widespread, the prices will eventually come down.
But even given the current cost of the 55EG960V, we wouldn't hesistate to recommend it.
We’ve been waiting a long while for 4K and OLED to come together and give us something special - and this set is everything we'd been hoping for.