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LG 65EF950V (EF950/ EF9500) 4K OLED TV Review

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At last a flat screen OLED!

by Steve Withers Oct 23, 2015

  • SRP: £4,999.00

    What is the EF950?

    Since the first big screen OLED TVs were launched one thing has remained the same, they've all had curved screens. Now LG have finally released what TV enthusiasts have been waiting for, a flat screen Ultra HD 4K OLED TV in the form of their EF950 range. The EF950V comes in two screen sizes - the 55-inch 55EF950V which retails for £3,499 and the 65-inch 65EF950V which retails for £4,999. As well as a flat 10-bit panel, both models also include HDMI 2.0a/HDCP2.2 inputs, support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) and passive 3D. There's also an attractive design, premium sound quality courtesy of Harman/Kardon, the Magic remote and Smart TV with webOS 2.0. The recently reviewed Panasonic TX-65CZ952B set a new benchmark for OLED performance but came with a hefty £7,999 price tag. LG's 65EF950 gets off to a good start by costing three grand less but can it deliver the same reference picture performance? Let's find out...

    Design

    The first thing you notice about the EF950 is that lovely flat screen. The manufacturers can say all they want about the benefits of curves but it's always nice to have a choice and this latest LG model is the first flat-screened OLED we have encountered. Aside from the shape of its screen, the basic design mirrors that of the earlier EG960 and very attractive it is too. LG call the design 'Art Screen' and the overall look is decidedly minimalist with a 1cm wide black border around the screen, a silver trim around the outer edge and a white rear panel. The build quality is very good and the fact that the panel is flat rather than curved means the front is more uniform than some of the curved screens. There were none of the ridges that some curved OLED owners have complained of and the front filter was effective at preventing unwanted reflections.
    LG 65EF950V Design
    LG 65EF950V Design

    The entire panel sits on a classic rectangular brushed metal stand that can't be swivelled but incorporates a perspex column that gives the impression the screen is floating in mid-air. However there's only 7cm of clearance beneath the screen, which might make using a soundbar tricky unless you have somewhere else in your cabinet where it can go. There's an illuminated LG logo on a clear plastic block at the bottom centre of the screen, although it actually defaults to off. The EF950V can be wall mounted but it will require a specialised bracket because the rear doesn't have the usual 400 x 400 VESA points. The OLED panel itself is only 5mm deep at the top and 3.5cm deep at the bottom, where the electronics, connections and speakers are housed. In terms of its overall dimensions, the 65EF950 measures 1450 x 883 x 236mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 24.5kg including the stand.

    The EF950 is well made, attractively designed and the stand makes the screen appear to float above it.

    Connections & Control

    In terms of the sideways facing connections there are three HDMI 2.0a/HDCP2.2 compliant inputs, so the EF950 can handle HDR when it comes along, as well as 4K and 3D. In addition the second HDMI input also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel) for connection to supporting devices. There are two USB 2.0 ports and a third USB 3.0 port, along with a CI (Common Interface slot) and our only complaint would be that these connections are just 16cm from the edge of the screen, which is a bit close.
    LG 65EF950V Connections & Control
    LG 65EF950V Connections & Control


    There are also some downward facing inputs and here you'll find twin tuner sockets, component and composite video, an optical digital output, an analogue input, a headphone socket and an RS232 serial connector. There's also a LAN port for a wired Ethernet connection but as you'd expect with a modern TV there is built-in WiFi. All the connections are at the rear left of the panel, as you face the screen, and to their right is a hard-wired 1.5m long power cable.
    LG 65EF950V
    LG 65EF950V

    The EF950V comes with two remotes, a plain black plastic remote and LG’s Magic remote. The latter is ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in the hand and the control interface is seamless with all the key buttons that you’ll need. There are navigation controls and a track wheel, along with a pointer function that is highly effective and compliments the webOS smart TV platform perfectly. There’s even voice control and of course a free remote app for iOS and Android if you'd rather use your smart device as a controller.

    Features & Specs

    As far as features go, the obvious selling point of the 65EF950V is its 65-inch 10-bit Ultra HD 4K OLED panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. It also includes LG's Perfect Mastering UHD Engine and Triple XD Engine and, since the majority of the content that you'll be watching will still be Full HD or perhaps even lower resolution than that, the EF950 includes LG's 4K Upscaler. This uses six-step image processing to match all incoming signals to the panel's native resolution. The EF950V also supports passive 3D and comes with two pairs of glasses. The LG supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) and has a wider colour space, which should provide a degree of future-proofing. On the audio side of things the EF950 includes a stereo speaker system designed by Harman Kardon that has 20W of built-in amplification.
    LG 65EF950V Features & Specs
    LG 65EF950V Features & Specs

    The EF950 includes the latest version of LG's excellent Smart+ system powered by webOS and, whilst not hugely different from last year, the system remains highly intuitive and easy to use. It’s now a bit faster and slicker in terms of its response and 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. 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 to the right you can access all the available apps. There is no need to close one app or go to another page to access an app and since everything including all the 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 2.0 here.

    The EF950V includes an excellent set of features including, of course, LG's Smart+ with webOS 2.0.

    Picture Settings Out-of-the-Box

    Although the EF950V includes a well designed menu system and a decent set of calibration controls, actually accessing them is a laborious process and one of our few complaints where webOS is concerned. However once you do get into the picture menu, you'll be glad to see that LG have resisted the urge to fill it with useless image 'enhancing' features. In testing we found that the ISF picture modes gave the most accurate starting point out-of-the-box and most of the few image enhancements that were available defaulted to off. Then all you need to do is set the OLED Light to suit your viewing environment, turn the Sharpness controls down to zero, turn off the Edge Enhancer and, when watching movies, also turn off TruMotion. It's a fairly simple process and doing just that gave us the measurements below.
    LG 65EF950V Picture Settings Out-of-the-Box
    LG 65EF950V Picture Settings Out-of-the-Box

    Overall these measurements are very good, with the greyscale errors largely below the visible threshold of three. There is a minor excess of blue between 50 and 70IRE but otherwise the three primary colours (red, green and blue) are tracking fairly closely together and the gamma is tracking around our target curve of 2.2. The out-of-the box colour gamut is also very good and again the overall errors are all below the threshold of three. There are some minor errors in the saturation of green, blue, magenta and yellow, as well as in the tint of blue, cyan and magenta, but overall this is a great performance. The Panasonic CZ952 delivered a slightly more accurate out-of-the-box performance in its THX Cinema mode but there really isn't much between the two OLEDs.

    LG 65EF950V Picture Settings


    Picture Settings Calibrated

    As with all LG TVs, the EF950V includes an extensive set of calibration features and ISF certification. In terms of the White Balance control, there's two- and a twenty-point options and whilst it's debatable whether you really need that level of accuracy, the controls certainly work very effectively. Unlike in previous years, we had no problems improving the greyscale using the two-point and then fine tuning with the twenty-point. The results speak for themselves and we were able to calibrate a reference greyscale performance whilst the gamma was still tracking around our target curve of 2.2. The Panasonic CZ952 managed a marginally better performance in terms of gamma but there really is nothing to separate the two in this regard.
    LG 65EF950V Picture Settings Calibrated
    LG 65EF950V Picture Settings Calibrated

    When LG first added a full colour management system with controls for saturation, tint and luminance, we found that using the CMS introduced unwanted colour artefacts. Thankfully they have fixed these issues this year and the CMS is now an effective calibration tool. In general we were able to fine tune the already very good colour performance without any issues and it was only a slight under-saturation of blue and yellow, along with a minor error in the tint of blue, that we were unable to completely correct using the CMS. However with overall errors well below one the colour gamut performance can, like the greyscale, be considered reference. Once again the Panasonic CZ952 managed to deliver a marginally better performance at 100% saturation but ultimately both OLED TVs were excellent in this regard.
    LG 65EF950V Picture Settings Calibrated
    LG 65EF950V Picture Settings Calibrated

    However, the EF950 was not as accurate when it came to lower saturation points, with red and blue in particular appearing under-saturated and magenta registering a strange error at 75%, where it skews towards blue. Whilst the other colours were actually tracking quite well, this is one area where the Panasonic CZ952 was visibly superior, suggesting a more accurate colour performance across the entire image. Unsurprisingly the EF950V's native colour gamut is identical to the CZ952 and both can deliver about 88% of the DCI colour space. This is less of an issue at the moment but future Ultra HD standards might use DCI, so it's worth pointing out in terms of the LG's longterm future-proofing.

    The out-of-the-box accuracy was good, whilst the calibration controls proved effective.

    Picture Quality

    We have reviewed a number of LG OLED TVs over the last two years and although this is the first flat screen version, the main picture elements are still essentially the same. Over that time there has been extensive owner feedback here on AVForums and this has allowed us to test the EF950V for a number of potential issues that have been reported in the past. In that respect, and despite what some owners may have experienced with previous LG OLEDs, we had no problems with lines on the screen, uniformity or tint issues, dead pixels or 'yellow bands'. Of course there's bound to be the odd faulty unit with any mass-produced item but we certainly didn't see any of these issues with our review sample.

    One of the other widely reported issues is the vignetting or dark edges at the sides of the image, that usually manifests when the OLED is showing images with dark scenes just above black. Panasonic believed this was a function of how the panel was being driven and they invested a great deal of time and effort in ensuring that this issue wasn't present on the CZ952. We can say for certain that Panasonic succeeded in this regard but sadly it is still apparent on the EF950. Although we didn't actually notice it at first, as soon as we pulled up a 5 IRE raster there they were - dark edges on either side. To be honest we rarely saw them when watching normal content, unless we went looking for them but they're certainly still there, so chalk one up to the CZ952.

    Interestingly we found these dark edges were less noticeable when using a gamma curve of 2.2 compared to a gamma of 2.4, so if it's something that you suffer from you might try changing the gamma. It won't eliminate the problem but it might make it less apparent. The other major issue that has been reported is banding just above black and since this was evident on the CZ952, we weren't surprised to discover it was also there on the EF950V. We could easily see this banding using a 5IRE test pattern or very specific scenes (the scene from Interstellar where Matthew McConaughey is getting out of bed) but, as with the dark edges, it tended to be something we had to go looking for and wasn't apparent on most viewing material.

    As with all the other OLED TVs that we have reviewed to date, the EF950V uses the 'sample-and-hold' approach, which means the panel displays and holds a static frame until the next one is refreshed. As a result the LG was delivering around 500 lines of resolution with TruMotion turned off. This could immediately be improved to the full 1080 lines of motion resolution by selecting any of the TruMotion options but that will make film-based content look unnaturally smooth and we could see artefacts in some of our test material. Whilst we would always encourage you to experiment with TruMotion when watching sports content, we would usually recommend leaving it off for film-based content.

    However we could see that the motion wasn't quite as smooth as it should be with TruMotion turned off. We noticed this very slight judder in 50Hz, 60Hz and 24p content and whilst the majority of people would never even notice, it was definitely there. The opening scene of Gravity is a good test because just about everything in the frame is moving (Earth, shuttle, astronauts) and although we were watching it in 24p with TruMotion turned off, we knew the very slight judder we were seeing wasn't in the source material. In fact we had watched the exact same scene last week on the CZ952 and there was no doubt that it looked that little bit smoother on the Panasonic. We found that using the de-judder control in the Custom TruMotion setting could help but you need to be careful because if you set it too high then film-based content will look too smooth.

    Finally we can report that we didn't experience any issues with image retention or screen burn during testing, even when we deliberately left a pattern up for over half an hour. If you leave a static image up the EF950 dims the screen after a short period of time, so we also left up an EPG for nearly an hour (the PIP image stopped the screen from dimming) and still no image retention. We also didn't experience any problems with image retention from watching 4:3 content or 2.35:1 content, nor did we see any after gaming. Whilst we obviously can't guarantee that you won't get any image retention or screen burn with your OLED, we can say that whatever LG are doing to avoid the problem appears to be working and, like with plasma, as long as you're sensible you should be fine.

    Now that we've addressed the various issues that have been reported previously with other OLED TVs, let's get on with the rest of our picture review because in most other respects the EF950V delivers an absolutely fantastic image. It goes without saying that the OLED delivers a superb black level and contrast ratio performance. We measured 0IRE at 0.001cd/m2 and the LG had no problems hitting 120cd/m2, giving sequential contrast ratio of 120,000:1, whilst the intra-frame or ANSI contrast ratio came in at a very impressive 74,000:1. Whilst the Panasonic CZ952 did deliver a better contrast ratio performance and slightly more detail just above black, it's debatable whether anyone would actually be able to tell in a normal living room with light coloured walls.

    However, one area where the EF950V was clearly superior to the CZ952 was in terms of overall brightness. We measured the maximum brightness in the ISF picture modes and found the LG could hit 405cd/m2 on a 100IRE window and 125cd/m2 on a full raster. Whilst that isn't as bright as an LED LCD TV, it's good for an OLED and certainly better than the Panasonic.

    Which brings us to High Dynamic Range (HDR), which the EF950 already supports. LG kindly provided us with some HDR test material (a travelogue and a music performance), plus we had some other footage provide by their arch competitor (Exodus and Life of Pi), and the results were simply stunning. The dynamic range was impressive with the deep blacks and really bright highlights giving images incredible impact. You could see details in bright parts of the image whist still being able to make out detail in the darker parts of the same image and when combined with the additional resolution of 4K it gave a tantalising glimpse of the potential of HDR.

    When we played the content the set immediately detected that it supported HDR and informed us via a message in the corner of the screen. We also noticed that with HDR content the OLED Light and Contrast settings are greyed out in the menus. Once you return to normal content, the TV tells you that as well and the menus return to their previous settings. Whilst OLED TVs are never going to compete with LCD TVs in terms of overall brightness, we feel that their superior black levels and native dynamic range allow for an equally impressive, if slightly different, approach to HDR. So it looks as though however you plan to access your HDR content (streaming services or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) the EF950V has you covered.

    As we went through our various 4K test content we were constantly amazed at how detailed the picture was on the EF950V, with LG perfectly matching the material to the native resolution of its panel. The video processing was also very good, with the OLED performing well in our tests, aside from the slight judder mentioned previously, and scaling lower resolution content to display it on the Ultra HD panel. The EF950 did a wonderful job with Full HD broadcasts and once you take into account the black levels, dynamic range and colour accuracy, the result is a genuinely impressive picture. This was even more apparent with Blu-ray and at times you could almost mistake the images for native 4K content. We always like to break out Gravity when testing OLED TVs because the space set drama looks fantastic on them but our recently purchased copy of Jurassic World looked equally as stunning with deep blacks, natural colours and a staggering amount of detail.

    Strangely, one area where we found ourselves slightly disappointed was with 3D. This surprised us because we have always been fans of LG's passive 3D, especially with their 4K panels which can deliver a full 1080p image to each eye. The EF950V comes with two pairs of passive glasses included but the beauty of this approach is that the glasses are really cheap and you can even use the RealD glasses from the cinema. The glasses are light, flicker-free, have a minimal amount of tint and don't require batteries. In general the 3D was very good, with bright and detailed images that revealed plenty of depth. However as we ran through our usual 3D test discs like Avatar and Hugo, we noticed there was some crosstalk at the top and bottom of the image. We were able to quickly confirm this using our Spears & Munsil 3D test patterns and there was definitely crosstalk that wasn't there with the Panasonic CZ952.

    The Harman Kardon sound system was surprising good but the input lag is too high for serious gamers.

    Sound Quality

    When you consider the size of the 65EF950V, especially in terms of its depth, it delivers a surprisingly good audio performance. Whatever Harman Kardon are doing to tweak the sound on LG TVs it's clearly working. At only 3.5cm deep at its widest point, there really isn't much room for speakers and definitely none for subwoofers. The two-channel speaker system built into the EF950 certainly benefits from the greater sense of stereo separation that a screen this wide can create and the 20W of built-in amplification delivers quite a punch.

    The EF950V actually sounded very good with regular TV programmes, keeping dialogue clear and central to the screen, whilst creating an open front soundstage where music and effects were concerned. It could go fairly loud and, as long as you didn't stress it, the LG proved a very competent performer. There was very little in the way of bass presence and obviously the sense of surround it could create was limited but for general use the EF950 was more than up to the task. Obviously if you're a film fan or a big gamer, you should probably investigate an outboard audio solution but for general TV watching the LG delivers.

    LG 65EF950V Video Review


    Input Lag & Energy Consumption

    In terms of the input lag, we measured the EF950V at 59ms in the ISF modes and 51ms in the Game mode and whilst this is significantly better than Panasonic's CZ952 it's also worse than the EG960 we reviewed earlier in the year. How big a deal this input lag is will largely depend on your priorities, if you mainly watch films and only occasionally game then it's doubtful that 51ms is going to make any difference. However if gaming is your priority then the input lag will undoubtedly be too high and there are plenty of alternative Ultra HD TVs this year that have delivered sub-30ms measurements. Personally we found gaming on the EF950 to be very enjoyable, with the lovely picture adding an extra element to the experience.

    If you've been following some of the recent news stories, you'll know that the energy consumption numbers that a manufacturer quotes for its TVs are based upon the picture mode that the unit is in when you first turn it on. In the case of LG their TVs are shipped in the Eco picture mode, so we measured that first using a 50 IRE raster and we got 157W. When we switched to our calibrated 2D mode using one of the ISF picture modes we got a measurement of 103W. Finally in our calibrated 3D mode, which also used one of the ISF picture modes, and we got a measurement of 180W. So overall, considering the 65-inch panel, the 65EF950V is fairly energy efficient, especially compared to Panasonic's 65CZ952B.

    The 65EF950V delivered a fantastic picture, with only some minor issues preventing a reference score.

    How future-proof is this TV?

    4K Ultra HD Resolution
    HDR Support
    Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 88%
    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?

    Conclusion

    9
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Flat screen
    • Absolute blacks
    • Superb dynamic range
    • Impressive contrast ratio
    • Supports High Dynamic Range
    • Excellent greyscale and colour accuracy
    • Very wide viewing angles
    • Great sound
    • Effective smart platform
    • Attractive design
    • Impressive build quality

    Cons

    • Vignetting at edges of screen
    • Some minor banding just above black
    • Slight judder to some motion
    • Some crosstalk in 3D
    • Colour space could be wider
    • Input lag too high for serious gamers
    You own this Total 30
    You want this Total 9
    You had this Total 8

    LG 65EF950V (EF950/ EF9500) 4K OLED TV Review

    It's been a long time coming but LG's first flat Ultra HD 4K OLED TV was certainly worth the wait and finally gives those who haven't been swayed by curved screens a viable alternative. The 65EF950V combines an attractive design with a decent level of build quality and the result is a TV that looks great even when it's off. There are plenty of connections at the rear, including three HDMI 2.0a/HDCP2.2 inputs for those with one eye on the future. There are two remote controls included, one of which is LG's highly effective Magic remote, along with two pairs of passive 3D glasses. The EF950 includes LG's excellent Smart+ platform with webOS 2.0, whilst the menu system includes 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. There were still some minor colour errors, especially at lower saturation points, but overall this was an excellent greyscale and colour performance. 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 but there was a very slight judder to certain content that some people might notice. 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.

    Unfortunately the EF950V still suffers from dark edges and banding in material just above black but in all other respects the panel was excellent, with no uniformity or tint issues and no dead pixels, yellow bands or lines on the screen. 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 content looked marvellous, as did Full HD broadcasts and Blu-rays, although the 3D performance was marred slightly by some crosstalk at the top and bottom of the image. However the sound quality was surprisingly good, the energy consumption extremely efficient and the input lag fine for most people, but probably a bit high for serious gamers.

    As luck would have it we were able to review the LG 65EF950V immediately after reviewing the Panasonic TX-65CZ952B and as a result we could appreciate the remarkable picture qualities of the latter. In our opinion, the CZ952B remains the reference point in terms of absolute image quality. It wasn't just the fact that Panasonic had eliminated the cause of the dark edges but also that the CZ952 proved that little bit better in many other areas such as colour accuracy, motion handling, black gradations and 3D. However the EF950 did edge out the Panasonic in other areas, especially in terms of brightness, energy efficiency, sound quality, smart features and input lag. Ultimately the CZ952 costs £7,999 and, as good as it is, we'd find it hard to justify the extra cost for improvements that many people might not even notice and we'd prefer to have a flat screen. So whilst the Panasonic TX-65CZ952B remains our reference point for image quality, if we were buying a TV right now we'd almost certainly go for the LG 65EF950V.


    The Rundown

    Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

    10

    Screen Uniformity

    8

    Colour Accuracy

    9

    Greyscale Accuracy

    9

    Video Processing

    8

    2D Picture Quality

    9

    3D Picture Quality

    9

    Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box

    8

    Picture Quality Calibrated

    9

    Sound Quality

    8

    Smart Features

    9

    Build Quality

    9

    Ease Of Use

    9

    Value for Money

    9

    Verdict

    9

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