So what is OLED? Will it be the answer for achieving perfect image quality in a slim TV? Will it ever be viable in large screen sizes? And most importantly, is it any good? We are about to answer those questions and more…
Technology & Design
The LG EL9500 is the largest Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) screen available to consumers and is equipped with an AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display in which organic diodes generate their own light, to produce strikingly sharp colours and excellent levels of black. Added to this, OLED offers perceived luminance increases over a traditional LCD display and with no backlight it is also capable of deep blacks, giving the TV a large visible contrast. Plus the advantages of the technology mean that there are no issues with off-axis viewing just like the best Plasma screens out there.
The final advantages of OLED technology is that screens can be as thin as 3mm and use no more that 40 watts of power in normal every day use. It all starts to sound like it’s too good to be true. However, there is a snag, and that is the screen size available to consumers. At this moment in time, this LG represents the pinnacle for OLED technology as a consumer product but with the average screen size for TV purchases in the UK now standing at 40 inches, this 15 inch model will be of little use in the AV enthusiast’s living room. So perhaps it is not quite the holy grail, well not at the moment anyway. What is cool is that your new OLED TV will be delivered in a box similar to one you would get with a new pair of shoes; filled with padding and two accessories boxes. I have no doubt this will not be the case for the larger sizes when they finally get here, although that would be amusing.
The remote control supplied with the 15EL9500 is a monster when compared to the size of the TV. It is the basic plastic affair seen with all the LG screens this year, offering nothing special design wise but being well laid out and intuitive to use.
There is, however, no denying that the 15EL9500 is a stunning piece of technology and design. With a screen that is just 3mm in depth, and with its included back panel that acts as a table stand, it is a beautiful object to look at. It also feels very fragile when held in your hands or moved around the table; you would be forgiven for thinking that it might be easy to snap it in two!
On the opposite side of the back chassis are some access keys for switching the power on, a menu key and ‘OK’ selection, plus channel advance and volume controls. So very much like the overall design, connections and controls attached are minimal.
Obviously the biggest selling point of this TV is the OLED display technology and its beautiful design and we are not complaining about that.
Menus and Set up
The menus employed on this OLED screen are identical to the mainstream LG TVs which even include the now standard ISFccc expert controls. There is no THX certification but LG have added a cinema preset that attempts to be accurate towards the industry picture standards.
The main picture menu will be familiar to most LG users and regular readers of our reviews. We have the Just Scan option for switching off any over scan along with the excellent Picture Wizard tool for helping users set the front panel controls correctly for their viewing environment. The front panel controls are also present and correct for setting Contrast, Brightness etc, and the advanced menu option then opens up the ISFccc controls.
Moving to the audio side of things and again we have full menu control which offers clear voice technology and a full custom set up option. The drawback, as you would imagine, are the actual speakers used with the LG which are well hidden and offer a very limited audio performance. In fact the sound quality produced from this ultra slim, tiny screen is no better than a cheap bedside clock radio but I suppose, given the likely applications of the screen in a bedroom or kitchen, this may not be a deal breaker. It is never going to replace the main display in the living room.
Looking at the Greyscale results first, this lets us see how the red, green and blue colours are mixed to provide us with the correct colour of white. All three RGB levels should be mixed in a specified amount to create our white balance and the colour of grey (white with luminance removed all the way to black). Looking at the RGB balance chart we can see that only blue tracks around the 100% target. Green is high and red is low. This creates a slight green cast to images due to the lack of red. However the RGB results do show that all three colour track in a fairly uniform manner from 10IRE and above to full white. This means that some slight adjustment will correct the results. The last area to look at is Gamma which tracks just below the desired 2.2 reference point, but not in any degree that will overly affect image quality.
What was more difficult to improve was the green error in the Colour Gamut. Looking at the results of our calibration, using the CMS system with some slight adjustments with the main colour decoder, we managed to balance the results in such a way that most colour points are more accurate than out of the box. Things are not perfect as we still have high luminance results for green, yellow and cyan, but with low error figures, there shouldn’t be any major issues when watching normal material. Only the green error is likely to affect actual viewing and only then with certain material, with lots of green. What was positive was that these results hold true at 50, 75 and 100IRE points, so the results are linear.
The LG manages to perform very well with its good video processing. Scaling to the panels native resolution with SD material was very good with no signs of artefacts, ringing or any added enhancements that shouldn’t be there. This is also the case with the de-interlacing with no real issues with jaggies on diagonal surfaces. The HQV tests were passed, with very good results, in the jaggies tests where all the lines appeared to be pretty smooth. Even cadences at 2:2 and 3:2 passed with flying colours.
24p material was also correctly played back with no induced judder or image artefacts being present when down converted to the panel resolution. HD images appeared detailed and sharp with nothing that concerned us at all.
There is a Trumotion 100Hz frame interpolation system, which apart from testing, was left switched off. There was just no need for the technology with this panel and its excellent motion resolution results. Overall it’s top marks here for the LG.
Gamers will be pleased to hear that lag time was measured at 15ms which is an excellent plasma like result, which should keep all gamers happy.
This is another area where OLED is likely to set the standards with a power consumption of 35 watts in normal viewing modes and 21 watts in calibrated modes.
That is the real disappointment. While image quality is breathtaking in its depth, detail and contrast, the small screen means this is nothing more than a technology showcase. Plus, we have no idea if larger screen sizes will be capable of the same image performance at this moment in time.
Moving to calibrated settings gives a glimpse of just what we may be able to enjoy in the years ahead. If the technology finally makes it to larger sizes, we are in for a treat. While colour accuracy was just slightly out with some rouge green shades, the rest of the image was striking in its vibrancy with realistic looking skin tones, image depth and stunning black levels. Brightness was also excellent, whether we were watching in dimmed viewing conditions or daylight. The only drawback here was the reflective screen surface which does a good job as a mirror in bright rooms. However, with sunlight hitting the screen, there was no washout of the image, if you could avoid the reflections. And motion resolution was also excellent with very little detail loss in fast pans; you are more likely to see issues with the material you are viewing than any issues added by any lack of motion resolution of the panel. Sports like football were free flowing and detailed; if a little on the small size. Finally there were no signs of banding with excellent colour gradation performance.
Overall, the only thing holding this TV back, is the fact it is only 15 inches and not its image performance.
- Stunning design and screen slimness
- Cutting edge energy consumption
- Stunning black levels and contrast performance
- Good results for colour reproduction and greyscale when calibrated
- Excellent video processing
- Excellent motion resolution
- Slight colour reproduction issues with the gamut out of the box
- It is too small!
LG 15 inch OLED TV (15EL9500) Review
In terms of usability, this panel will be relegated to a kitchen or bedroom monitor for the more affluent of readers. For everyone else, it is a technology preview that proves the concept of OLED technology and just makes us wish that manufacturers would get the finger out and get the large screen sizes into production now!
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
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