Is this the best TV picture we've ever seen?
What is the LG EG960?The EG960V is the first Ultra HD 4K OLED TV that LG have released in the UK and it incorporates all the latest developments in that particular technology, along with the most recent version of webOS and a new magic remote. As at the time of writing (April 2015) the 55-inch model - the 55EG960V - retails for around £3,799, whilst the 65-inch version - the 65EG960V - will set you back £5,999.
It’s fair to say that over the last few years LG have been slightly guilty of over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to OLED. After a slow start, things began to look up towards the end of last year when the 55EC930V was released at an eye-catching price point of £1,999. Although it was only Full HD, OLED was finally beginning to deliver on its potential as a mass market product.
Despite being promised back in October, the Ultra HD 4K 65EC970V failed to materialise in 2014 and has now been largely usurped by the EG960 range, although it is available from selected retailers at £6,499. OLED promises to deliver the ultimate in picture quality but LG's recent models have had a few issues that need to be addressed.
If the new 55EG960 and it's 65-inch big brother can deliver on all of OLED's potential, then we could see the best picture quality from a TV to date. Of course Samsung will have you believe that High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the future and at £5,999 the 65EG960V will be going head-to-head with the UE65JS9500. So which technology is better?
DesignThe EG960 uses an ultra thin OLED panel that is only 5mm deep, although the TV itself is 4.4cm deeper than that at the bottom, where all the electronics, connections and speakers are to be found. The panel is curved, although if that isn’t to your taste LG will also be releasing a flat version in the summer. The screen uses a newly developed filter that significantly reduces reflections and that certainly proved to be the case during testing. There is a chrome silver trim around the outer edge of the panel and at the bottom of the screen is a clear plastic semi-circle, inside which is an illuminated LG logo; although thankfully it can be turned off.
The panel sits upon a curved brushed metal stand that is 72cm wide at its widest point. There is a clear perspex column that supports the panel and gives the impression that the screen is just floating in mid-air. The stand can't be swivelled but given the extremely wide viewing angles of OLED this is unimportant. The complete lack of a bezel also helps with this effect, although there is a 1cm wide black border around the screen. The rear of the panel is white and the overall design of the EG960V is very attractive. Despite the ultra-slim nature of the panel, the build quality is excellent and the TV feels well engineered and solidly constructed.
The well engineered design uses a stand that gives the impression the screen is floating in mid-air.
Connections and ControlAll of the connections are at the rear left of the panel and consist of three HDMI 2.0 inputs, three USB ports and a headphone socket. These inputs are sideways facing but are only 10cm from the edge, which is too close in our opinion and could result in cables being visible. There are also a number of downwards facing inputs, including a series of legacy connections, satellite and aerial sockets, an RS232 connector for serial control and an optical digital input. There's a LAN port for a wired Ethernet connection but, of course, the EG960 also includes built-in WiFi. At the rear you’ll find the hard-wired power cable, which is 1.5m long, and unlike previous generations of LG OLED TVs, the EG960 can be wall mounted.
The EG960V comes with the latest version of LG’s Magic remote and it remains one of the best designed and easiest to use controllers we have experienced. The ergonomically designed shape fits comfortably in the hand and the control interface is seamless. There are all the key buttons that you’ll need, along with navigation controls and a track wheel. However it’s the pointer function that is most effective and this compliments the webOS smart TV platform perfectly. We’re glad to see that LG have added a Settings button to make it easier to access the setup menus and there’s even a voice control feature. Of course there’s also a remote app available for those that would rather use their smart device as a controller.
55EG960 Features and SpecsThe main feature of the EG960V is its use of an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) panel to create the picture. This technology uses an organic layer in the panel that glows when an electrical signal is passed through it. This makes OLED a self emitting technology, which means that it produces its own light, rather than shining a backlight (whether CCFL or LED) through the panel as you would with an LCD TV. In that sense OLED is more like plasma and its self-illuminating properties mean that OLED is capable of black levels that are superior even to plasma, great screen uniformity and a very wide viewing angle. OLED is also much brighter than plasma, far more energy efficient and the panels are incredibly thin, making it the best of all worlds.
However they have proved difficult to make in large numbers, which has limited supply and increased their price. Thankfully it would appear that LG’s huge investment in OLED production is beginning to pay dividends with improved numbers of viable panels. As a result the manufacturer feels they can begin to deliver OLED panels in greater numbers and at more competitive prices. The other big features with the EG960 are that it uses an Ultra HD 4K panel, so it also delivers a higher resolution, and a 10-bit panel for more precise colour accuracy. The built-in sound capabilities have been designed by Harman Kardon, so the EG960V should also deliver a better audio performance than you would expect from such a slim chassis.
Whilst the OLED screen itself will be the EG960's major selling point, it also comes with a number of excellent features including LG's ground-breaking Smart+ system powered by webOS 2.0. This latest version isn't hugely different from last year but then, if it ain't broke why fix it? The system remains incredibly intuitive and easy to use and is now a bit faster and slicker in terms of its response. There's a new menu short-cut added to the right hand side of the screen that you access by pressing a dedicated button on the remote, but otherwise, it's the same as last year. So if you scroll to the left, you go backwards through the apps you have previously opened and if you scroll forwards you can access all the available apps. There is no need to close one app or go to another page to access an app, you just select the one you want from the launcher and go straight into it.
Since everything including Live TV, the TV Guide, the Time Machine (HDD recording) and the HDMI inputs are treated as apps, navigating from one to the other is simple, making webOS feel like an integral part of the TV. You can read a more detailed review of WebOS here. The EG960V also includes LG's Cinema 3D, which is their name for passive 3D. As such there's an invisible polarised filter on the front of the screen and the TV comes with four pairs of polarised glasses (two regular and two clip-on). Although as always, if you have any RealD glasses from the cinema knocking about, you can use those as well. Other useful features include the previously mentioned Magic Remote, the free remote app, the Freeview HD and satellite tuners, built-in WiFi, three HDMI inputs with support for ARC and MHL, Miracast and WiDi.
The combination of the Magic remote and webOS remain as irresistible as ever.
Picture SettingsAs with all of LG's TVs, the EG960V comes with a number of picture settings including two ISF modes and we would recommend using one of these modes when setting up the TV. The ISF mode usually defaults to the settings closest to the industry standards and turns off a lot of the unwanted 'special features', which proved to be case here. As the measurements below show, if you follow some basic setup guidelines, the LG can deliver a very accurate image right out-of-the-box.
In the case of the EG960 we used an OLED light setting of 40 (this panel is very bright), a contrast setting of 80 and we found we needed to increase the brightness control to 51 to prevent a tiny bit of black crush. We turned the sharpness controls down to zero but left the colour and tint controls where they were. We chose the standard colour gamut and a gamma of 2.2 but turned off dynamic contrast, super resolution and edge enhancer. We left the black level at low and turned off noise reduction and TruMotion.
Pre-CalibrationAs we mentioned in the previous section, the EG960V can deliver an extremely accurate image right out-of-the-box, if you just follow a few simple setup guidelines. The graph on the left below shows the greyscale performance and what we're looking for is equal amounts of red, green and blue so that there's a smooth transition from black to white in shades of grey that are free of any discolouration. Aside from a slight excess of green and a deficit of red in the brighter part of the image (80-90 IRE) the greyscale is very good and most of the errors are below the threshold of three. The gamma could be better but generally tracks around our target of 2.2, although it drops nearer 2.0 at 90 IRE.
The colour accuracy is equally as impressive with all three primary and all three secondary colours show errors below the perceptible level of three. The accurate greyscale is evidenced by white hitting it's target in the centre of the Rec.709 triangle and only a slightly under-saturated yellow is worth mentioning. Overall this is a really impressive out-of-the-box performance and whilst we'd always recommend getting a TV of this quality professionally calibrated to get the best from it, this picture already looks great. Now obviously this is a review sample, so we can't guarantee that a retail model will be as accurate but so far this year we've been impressed by the greyscale and colour performance of all the TVs we've reviewed.
Post CalibrationThe EG960 comes with both a two-point and a twenty-point white balance control and we found that it was a simple task to improve the accuracy using the two-point and then fine tune using the twenty-point control. As a result we were able to get a reference greyscale performance with equal amounts of red, green and blue across the entire scale. We also improved the gamma performance, which now tracked closer to our 2.2 target, and the overall errors were all below one and mostly well below that.
Last year we found that using the colour management system resulted in artefacts in the image, so we were pleased to discover that LG have solved any issues with the CMS this year. As a result we were able to fine tune the already excellent colour performance, bringing all the primary colours (red, green and blue) in line with their targets for the industry standard of Rec.709. We were also able to get all the secondary colours (cyan, magenta and yellow) spot-on, aside from a slight under-saturation of yellow which we couldn't correct using the CMS. However this wouldn't actually be noticeable and the overall errors were all below one which is essentially perfect.
Whilst the calibrated colour measurements are superb at 100% saturation, this isn't the full picture (if you'll pardon the pun) and we rarely look at a fully saturated image. For this reason, as part of our testing procedures we also measure how an TV's image tracks at different saturation levels. In the case of the EG960V the performance is good but not as impressive as we have seen from some TVs recently. There is some under-saturation in the tracking of the primary colours in the mid range (50-75%), which means that they sometimes didn't appear as vibrant as we would have liked but we doubt anyone would notice and importantly colours always retained a natural appearance with actual viewing material.The current TV standards have been in use for decades but with the introduction of Ultra HD 4K, the standards bodies, broadcasters and manufacturers are looking to create a new set of standards to reflect the superior capabilities of modern TVs and deliver more than just higher resolution from the new UHD format. The EG960V obviously delivers in terms of the higher resolution and it uses a 10-bit panel, so it has that covered as well. One of the other suggested changes is a wider colour space and although the recommended standards use Rec.2020, it's more likely that the DCI colour space will be used in practice. If you look at the graph below you'll see that although the EG960 does have a wider colour space that Rec.709, it doesn't get as close to DCI as some of the TVs being made by Panasonic and Samsung. Whilst it would be great to get the full benefit of the wider colour space, when you consider all the benefits of OLED, it's a small price to pay.
The out-of-the-box accuracy was impressive, with a reference performance after calibration.
Input LagIf there is one area where LG have struggled in recent years, it has been in terms of input lag for gaming. The EG960V is definitely an improvement on last year and we measured a lag of 52ms using our dedicated testing device. This is certainly better than previous LG TVs and about average for an Ultra HD TV but it's double the measurements we're getting from Samsung's latest UHD models. We tried all the usual tricks such as making sure all unnecessary processing is off and even renaming the input but we couldn't get a reading lower than 52ms. Of course for most people this is more than sufficient to ensure an enjoyable gaming experience and, personally, we found gaming to be quite responsive. Whilst we appreciate that the lag might not be low enough for dedicated gamers, we do feel that the added benefits of the superior image certainly make up for any perceived lag. Although games don't have the same set of standards as broadcast, DVD and Blu-ray, many games do try to replicate a cinematic feel, so it would be advisable to setup the Game mode along similar lines to the ISF settings we suggested earlier.
Sound QualityThe use of an ultra-thin OLED panel means that there is a lot less room for speakers than we've seen on some TVs this year and as such, our hopes weren't high in this area. However it would seem that LG's partnership with Harman Kardon is paying dividends in terms of an improved audio performance on their TVs. Despite the downward-firing speakers being installed in an area only 4.9cm deep, the sound quality was surprisingly good and the EG960V created a decent front soundstage. There was a reasonable sense of stereo separation and the built-in amplification was quite effective, meaning the LG could go quite loud without distorting. The EG960 reproduced dialogue with clarity, whilst music and effects are also well rendered, resulting in a great all-round performance. We would expect anyone investing in the EG960V to choose an outboard audio solution but if you do decide to use the built-in sound capabilities, you won't be disappointed. However, should you decide to go the soundbar route, you might find it useful to know that there is 6cm of clearance from the bottom of the screen.
LG 55EG960V Video
Whether it's Full HD, 4K or 3D, the EG960V delivers the best-looking images we have seen to date.
LG EG960V Picture QualityWe'll take you through all the key elements of picture quality one-by-one but let's start with the screen uniformity of the EG960V, which on our review sample was excellent. There was no apparent banding, clouding or patchiness to the screen during testing, nor was there any kind of tinge to the overall colour or any dead pixels that we could see. We understand that some owners have reported issues, particularly when it comes to banding, but that wasn't the case with our review sample. We appreciate our sample isn't an actual retail model, but it should be the same as you would buy on the high street. We also didn't experience any image retention or screen-burn and we know that LG have introduced a number of features to ensure that this shouldn't be a problem.
Video ProcessingWhen it came to the video processing on the EG960, the results were extremely impressive. This is a key area when it comes to Ultra HD 4K TVs because, for the time being, almost all the content you watch will be upscaled to match the higher resolution panel. The LG delivered a fantastic performance, scaling content effectively without introducing any obvious artefacts. The EG960V passed all of our usual video processing tests and overall the quality of the deinterlacing and scaling was excellent.
Motion HandlingThe EG960 uses exactly the same 'sample-and-hold' approach that we've seen on previous LG OLEDs, which means the panel displays and holds a static frame until the next one is refreshed. As a result the EG960V was delivering around 500 lines of resolution with TruMotion turned off. This could be improved by turning TruMotion on but the result is a picture that looks unnaturally smooth, especially with film content, and we could see artefacts in some of test material. This was true regardless of whether you choose Smooth or Clear and although you could experiment with the User TruMotion settings on something like football, we were perfectly happy watching all of our content with TruMotion turned off.
Black Levels and Contrast RatioIf there's one area where OLED is head and shoulders above the competition, it's in terms of black levels and so it proved with the EG960V. We measure 0 IRE at 0.000 cd/m2 which is absolute black and means that the on/off contrast ratio is essentially infinite. The EG960 is also bright, we measured 100 IRE at 421 cd/m2 with everything maxed out. With those settings we measured black at 0.001 cd/m2, which equates to an on/off of 421,000:1. Using our target brightness of 120 cd/m2 and a checkerboard pattern we measured the ANSI contrast ratio at over 120,000:1, which is what we would expect from an OLED screen and is superior to any other technology. What that means in real terms is that the EG960V has a remarkable dynamic range and this gives images a serious level of impact.
There is brightness to spare and the deep blacks are achieved without losing detail just above black, as long as you set the LG up correctly. The EG960 includes the BT1886 gamma curve and although we experimented with using it, ultimately we felt we got the best overall results using the 2.2 gamma setting in our test environment. The EG960V doesn't support High Dynamic Range (HDR) and when we tried some actual HDR content the image was washed out but it's debatable how much benefit you would get from HDR. If we have higher resolution, wider colour space, 10-bit video and deep blacks, then the OLED image will already look seriously impressive, so will we even need HDR? That's probably a debate for another time but based upon our experiences with the EG960 we can say that even without HDR, an OLED screen can deliver a hugely impressive amount of dynamic range.
Ultra HD 4K PerformanceSadly the availability of Ultra HD 4K content remains limited, although if you have a fast enough broadband connection then there is a growing catalogue of titles on Netflix and Amazon Prime. However thanks to the efforts of Phil Hinton, the Canadian wilderness and a Panasonic GH4 camera, we have some stunning 4K content to use for testing. The native 4K images produced by the EG960V were simply stunning, with a truly remarkable level of detail and a lovely natural appearance. As we went through the various clips the images were bright and accurate, there were no signs of artefacts or sharpening and the motion handling was excellent.
High Definition PerformanceSince the majority of the content we will be watching will be Full HD for many years to come, this is the most important area and thanks to a combination of black levels, brightness, dynamic range, accuracy and video processing, the results were simply stunning. We found that broadcast TV just took on an entirely new appearance, with the deep blacks and brightness delivering a really punchy image. The video processing and the higher resolution of the panel meant that the EG960V could squeeze every last detail out of Full HD broadcasts and watching something like the snooker not only revealed natural-looking colours but a surprising amount of detail in the image. The shadow detail was also impressive and so were the gradations, which meant that even a black shirt, a black bow tie and a black waistcoat all remained perfectly defined.
When we moved onto Blu-ray the results were even more impressive and the IMAX sequences in Interstellar allowed the EG960 to show just what OLED is capable of when handling high quality material. The level of detail produced was astonishing and was almost good enough to convince us that we were watching a 4K image. The shots of white spaceships against the depths of space took full advantage of the incredible dynamic range on offer and each star was perfectly rendered against the pitch blackness. We also broke out our disc of Gravity, which makes for a great 2D and 3D test and the LG delivered a flawless performance with both versions. The level of detail in the CG animation is just astonishing and the dynamic range and contrast ratio of the image gave the space sequences real impact.
3D PerformanceWhilst the appeal of 3D might be waning, there are still plenty of 3D Blu-rays available and people who enjoy watching movies shot in three dimensions. If you're one of those people, then the EG960V might be the TV for you because it delivered the best 3D performance we have ever seen from any display. The combination of an Ultra HD 4K panel and passive 3D meant that we were getting Full HD to each and there was absolutely no flicker or crosstalk. The absolute blacks, coupled with the very bright image meant that the EG960 could offset the inherent dimming nature of the glasses without losing its dynamic range.
This meant that there 3D images weren't only incredibly detailed but they also had superb depth and real 3D 'pop'. The colours were also natural, the level of detail was incredible and the motion handling was very good. Watching the opening scene of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, when Smaug attacks Lake Town, was nothing short a revelation. The sense of depth and layers to each shot was wonderful, whilst the detail and fidelity were equally as impressive. We found ourselves re-watching many of our favourite 3D sequences again as if we were seeing them for the first time, the EG960 was that impressive.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 85% 10-bit Panel HDMI 2.0a Inputs HDCP 2.2 Support HEVC Decoding 4K Streaming Services Smart TV Platform Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 9 What do these mean?
- Absolute blacks
- Superb dynamic range
- Remarkable contrast ratio
- Reference greyscale and colour accuracy
- Excellent video processing
- Great design and build quality
- Impressive smart platform
- Highly effective remote
- Very good sound
- No HDR support
- Colour space could be wider
- Connections too close to edge
- Input lag high for serious gamers
LG 55EG960V (EG960) Ultra HD 4K OLED TV Review
Should I buy one?Is the LG 55EG960V perfect? No of course not, no consumer product will ever be perfect, that's just an unrealistic expectation. We still use a Pioneer Kuro as our main TV, which was considered the reference point for years, but even that had issues. The simple fact is that no mass produced product at anything approaching a realistic price point is going to free of issues. The important thing is that where there are issues, the manufacturer in question addresses them either with a fix or a replacement. In the owners thread for the EG960V there have been reports of problems with banding, screen uniformity and dead pixels but we can only comment on the sample that we're reviewing and we haven't experienced any of these issues ourselves. It's also worth remembering that despite any issues that you might experience with an OLED display, what's the alternative?You can buy a backlit LCD but we know what we would prefer.
All that being said, does the EG960 have the best picture we've seen from a consumer display? In a word - yes. Oh, you want more than one word, very well here goes. Whilst there's no doubt that advances have been made in squeezing every last drop of performance from LCD, the reality is that OLED is the future of TV. 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 EG960 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 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. So what isn't so good? Well the colour performance could have been better at lower saturation levels and the colour space doesn't hit DCI but the EG960V does use a 10-bit panel. There's currently no support for HDR, although frankly we would struggle to see how that could improve what is already a stunning picture. 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. Ultimately the LG 55EG960V delivers the best looking image we have ever seen from a consumer display and, as such, we consider it the new reference point for an Ultra HD 4K TV.
What are my alternatives?Well if you're looking for an OLED TV your choices are limited and LG is currently the only game in town. If Ultra HD 4K isn't important to you, then you could consider the Full HD 55EC930V which, whilst not perfect, certainly offers exceptional value at a price of £1,999. It's also worth remember that, if like many people you don't like curved screens, there will be a flat alternative to the EG960V available in the summer. If you're looking for a larger screen size then there's also the 55EG960V's bigger brother the 65EG960V, which retails for £5,999. If you've got that kind of cash to spend and don't have your heart set on OLED, then you could consider Samsung's excellent UE65JS9500, which does offer a degree of future proofing. However when it comes to 55-inch screen sizes, we don't think anything else comes close to the EG960 and at £3,799 it would definitely be at the top of our short list.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level10
2D Picture Quality10
3D Picture Quality10
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated10
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
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