2015 is the perfect time to embrace the future with 4K OLED - the TV technology of tomorrow
We know what you’re thinking, what’s all this talk about OLED?Well OLED is a completely new technology that’s not to be confused with the LED TVs that have been in the stores for the last five years. If you’d like to know more about the differences between the two take a look at our article What's the difference between an LED and OLED TV? Essentially OLED is a self-illuminating technology that can deliver incredible Ultra HD 4K images. It has, quite rightly, been called the TV of the future and it's largely as a result of a considerable investment by LG that OLED has become a mass market technology.
However, thanks to the some competitive pricing combined with the Black Friday sales and Christmas, you can have the future of TV right now and for less than you might imagine. The UHD 4K OLED TVs on this list represent, in no particular order, the best from LG and Panasonic, with both flat and curved versions. Of course this is still a premium technology so the prices remain high but these TVs meet many of the latest standards, making the technology of the future appropriately future-proof.LG 55EG960V - £2,499
The EG960 was the first Ultra HD 4K OLED TV that LG released in the UK and it incorporates all the latest developments in that particular technology, High Dynamic Range (HDR) thanks to a firmware update, the most recent version of WebOS and a new magic remote. When we reviewed the 55EG960V back in April it cost a decidedly high-end £3,799, whilst the 65EG960V would set you back £5,999. You can now pick up the 55-inch version for £2,499 and the 65-inch version for £3,999. The quality of the image produced by the EG960V was quite simply stunning, with fantastic screen uniformity and the deepest blacks we've ever seen. This creates a bedrock on which the rest of the image is based and when combined with a seriously bright picture, the dynamic range is jaw-dropping. The out-of-the-box performance was excellent and, when calibrated, the 55EG960 was capable of a reference level of accuracy; giving images a natural appearance.
The 4K panel delivered an exceptional level of detail and, thanks to some superb video processing, even lower resolution content looked great. In terms of other benefits, the curved OLED panel provides an extremely wide viewing angle with no loss of quality and the motion handling, whilst not as good as plasma, is superior to LCD. The design is attractive, the build quality excellent and the audio performance surprisingly good. LG's WebOS smart platform remains the most intuitive on the market and the Magic remote is the perfect compliment. Although the colour performance could have been better at lower saturation levels and the colour space didn't hit DCI, the EG960 does use a 10-bit panel and supports HDR. The input lag might be a bit high for serious gamers and if we were nit-picking, the HDMI inputs are too close to the edge. However the LG 55EG960V delivers among the best looking images we have ever seen from a consumer display and it does so at a genuinely attractive price.Panasonic TX-65CZ952B - £7,999
The CZ952B is Panasonic's first commercially available Ultra HD 4K OLED TV and although the 65-inch curved panel has been sourced from LG, the rest of the engineering is almost entirely proprietary. Panasonic have taken an uncompromising approach to its design, jettisoning their latest Firefox Smart TV platform in order to commit more of the quad-core processing power to the image and enlisted the help of Panasonic Hollywood Labs to ensure the most accurate colour performance possible. The CZ952 also boasts Panasonic's new 4K Pro Studio Master UHD processor and Studio Master Colour, along with THX certification and ISF calibration controls. It also uses a 10-bit panel and will support High Dynamic Range (HDR), thus providing a degree of future-proofing. Since the 65CZ952 is a statement product it looks gorgeous, with an attractive curved silver stand and an Alcantara finish at the rear. Needless to say, all this doesn't come cheap and the TX-65CZ952B retails for £7,999 but if you're looking for pure picture performance then we have yet to see a TV that can outperform the CZ952B.
The native 4K OLED panel delivered pin sharp detail, absolute blacks, superb dynamic range and incredibly wide viewing angles. There were no screen uniformity or tint issues and Panasonic had banished the problem of dark edges. Panasonic's experience in terms of black gradation on plasmas also paid dividends with detail just above black. There was some minor banding in dark scenes just above black but it wasn’t apparent with 99% of viewing material. Aside from that the CZ952 delivered an absolutely superb picture with incredible greyscale and colour accuracy both out-of-the-box and after calibration. Panasonic's decision to dedicate most of the processing power to picture quality results in fantastic images regardless of the source material, although clearly the better the material the TV has to work with the more impressive the results. Despite the stripped down smart platform, the important things are there like 4K Netflix, 4K Amazon Instant and 4K YouTube along with favourites like BBC iPlayer. The Panasonic TX-65CZ952B might well have a premium price tag but it's also a premium product in every respect with a reference status performance.LG 65EF950V - £3,999
The 65EF950V is LG’s first flat screen Ultra HD 4K OLED TV and comes in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes. The 55EF950V originally retailed for £3,499 and the 65EF950V would have set you back £4,999 but that has now dropped to £2,499 and £3,999 respectively. As well as a flat 10-bit panel, both models include HDMI 2.0a/HDCP2.2 inputs, support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) and passive 3D with two pairs of glasses. There's also an attractive design, premium sound quality courtesy of Harman/Kardon, the Magic remote, Smart TV with WebOS 2.0, extensive calibration controls and ISF certification. The out-of-the-box greyscale and colour accuracy were very good and the LG was capable of a near reference performance after calibration. The video processing was also impressive with the EF950V upscaling lower resolution content to effectively match the 4K panel. The motion handling was generally good, whilst the black level and contrast ratio performance was superb and, as you'd expect from an OLED TV, the viewing angles were incredibly wide. The 65EF950 was also very bright for an OLED TV and it already supports HDR content, which looked wonderful in our tests.
Whilst the EF950V still suffers from dark edges and banding in material just above black, in all other respects the panel was excellent, with no uniformity or tint issues. In fact even the issues that we've already mentioned would probably go unnoticed by most people and generally the LG delivered a wonderful image with deep blacks, natural colours and plenty of detail. Needless to say 4K and HDR content looked marvellous, as did Full HD broadcasts and 2D and 3D Blu-ray. The sound quality was also very good, the energy consumption extremely efficient and the input lag fine for most people, but probably a bit high for serious gamers. Whilst the CZ952B remains the reference point in terms of absolute image, the EF950 did edge out the Panasonic in other areas, especially in terms of brightness, energy efficiency, sound quality, smart features and input lag. As we’ve already mentioned the CZ952 costs £7,999 and, as good as it is, some will find it hard to justify the extra cost for minor improvements and they might also prefer a flat screen. So whilst the Panasonic TX-65CZ952B remains our reference point for image quality, if you’re thinking of buying a TV right now we'd definitely recommend taking a look at the LG 65EF950V.
So there you have it, three OLED TVs that not only deliver a fantastic performance right now but include plenty of future-proofing features to keep them relevant for years to come. So what are you waiting for, there’s never been a better time to embrace the television of tomorrow.
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