What is the LG 65EC970V?
In addition to the cutting edge OLED tech, the EC970V also features a de rigeur curved screen design, Ultra HD (4K) resolution and a sound system designed by Harmon Kardon, so this TV is more or less at the vanguard of breakthrough television technologies. It certainly needs to be, however, when you consider the asking price is a princely £6,000, or thereabouts. When you think that most people look at spending £500, or under, on a television, this makes the 65EC970V an elite product that needs to deliver outstanding performance to get close to justifying the outlay.
Design & Connections
LG Smart+ TV (webOS) Features and UI
LG 65EC970V Picture Settings
And there’s more. The 20 point white balance controls don’t function as they are supposed to unless you set the Contrast control very high (LG advise maximum levels) which is all well and good but in doing so you end up severely clipping red energy in the greyscale, causing a pink hue easily visible in whites. The theory goes that once you’ve completed the calibration, you can then drop the contrast to a level where the clipping and tint disappears but you’re then changing the behaviour of the panel such that the readings near white, with contrast at max are almost meaningless.
Contrast and Black LevelIf you’re interested in the numbers, like the OLED’s we’ve tested before, the EC970V registered a black measurement of 0.001 cd/m2 – which is phenomenally dark – and it could maintain that on a black and white checkerboard pattern, against a calibrated peak white averaging 92.3 cd/m2. That provides an ANSI contrast ratio of 92,300:1, which is so far beyond the range of even the best LED/LCD televisions that it’s a total non-contest in this aspect of picture performance. It doesn’t quite tell the full story however as the EC970 clearly has some quite aggressive brightness limiting circuity on board which meant the 92.3 cd/m2 output from the chequerboard pattern was tamed in to the low 60’s. In practice we can’t say that’s in any way an issue but it looks as though LG is being very protective of the circuitry inside, perhaps underlining that the technology is still in relative infancy.
4K Ultra HD PerformanceWe, or rather I, am in the fortunate position of having an internet connection that can comfortably cope with the bitrates necessary for 4K Ultra HD material from both Amazon Instant and Netflix. Resulting in the chance to again to see what the format really means for the consumer at this time. There’s precious little else, as things stand, beyond some clips on YouTube but the results are unlikely to disappoint all but the most over-expectant. We’ve long said that 4k will need more than the resolution increase to really sell itself, and that is set to happen, but when you see streamed video of this quality it’s hard not to think that 4K Blu-ray is going to have a major battle on its hands, once its released, with the entrenched – and relatively cheap – streaming services out there.
First up on the menu was the Netflix exclusive, Daredevil, which I’ll be honest in saying didn’t impress me as much as I’d hoped. I’d seen a couple of episodes on the Samsung JS9000 which had got me rather excited at the prospect but the 65-inch EC970V brought in to sharp focus (or not) the inadequacies of watching UHD on a 48-inch screen. The video is actually very grainy, no doubt as a stylistic choice from the director to produce a gritty feel, but it’s not a great advert for an emerging format selling itself on the back of clarity of image. The third season of House of Cards, on the other hand, is a feast for the eyes and obviously shot with 4K in mind; the number of skin close ups showing off tiny details and the increasing stubble count of the cast are testament to that. Still, we’re not complaining – far from it in fact – and this is video quality of (nearly) the highest order. There were two instances where we got a strange and fleeting multi-coloured pixelated effect (one was Episode 3 at 29m35s) that we don’t know whether to attribute to an HEVC encoding or decoding issue but we’ll check when we have another 4K Netflix capable TV in.
HD & SD Picture QualityWe wouldn’t say the LG EC960V exactly struggled with sub Ultra HD resolutions but it was certainly less forgiving than some of the high-end 4K LED/LCD TVs we’ve seen. As said above, anything from broadcast HD (1080i) is going to need some edge enhancement, at least, to stop it looking soft and when we’re going in to the territory of streamed 720p and, worse still, standard definition material, then you might have to investigate the noise reduction options to make it at least palatable. This isn’t a criticism of the EC970V as such, and you shouldn’t feed a racehorse on pig swill – but be warned that if you’re not planning on jumping in to the resolution revolution with both feet, you’d still be best served with a quality 1080p TV, for the time being, or at least an Ultra HD one that treats lesser material more kindly. It’s a different story with a good Blu-ray disc where there’s no need for processing assistance, beyond the necessary scaling, but this TV is built to really shine with 4K.
The motion handling of the EC970V is not especially impressive on paper (we got around 400 lines of clarity on a 1080p test) but, in practice, we couldn’t really see any notable problems. Film content was perfectly handled, whilst faster paced action such as football (and I watch lots of that) does just blur a little but it’s in a way that, to my eyes at least, looks perfectly normal. There’s certainly no unpleasant trailing or dragging artefacts and the general look of the TV is definitely more plasma than it is LCD/LED, despite the shared sample and hold technology.
3D Picture QualityI’m not a fan of 3D and I’ve never made a secret about that. In my eyes, it just ain’t natural and never will be but if there was ever a TV that could make me change my mind about that, then the EC970V would be it. The combination of the cavernous blacks, fluid crosstalk-free images and zero flicker with Full HD delivered to each eye is pretty staggering to be honest. I’d intended to watch a few test clips but ended watching nearly all of Gravity; nearly all because I fell asleep in the armchair near the end, which at least shows that the Passive 3D glasses are comfortable to wear! Stunning 3D but whether it’s enough to save that format remains to be seen.
Tints, banding and other issues
The second issue we noticed was initially less noticeable but ultimately more plaguing. When all’s said and done, you don’t often watch an all (or mostly white screen), except in adverts (and perhaps Fargo and Fortitude spring to mind) but you do get lots of dark scenes where the other issue rears its head, normally in transition from a lighter scene. Rather than a long drawn out explanation, if you look at the image below, you can see that some of the pixels towards the edge aren’t being fully illuminated and when you get an even darker image, then it can sometimes crush all the detail in the corners completely. Is this a by-product of the curve and the difficulty in supplying voltages evenly right to the edges? Perhaps but what is for sure is that this shouldn’t be happening on a six grand TV. In mitigation, your eyes are naturally drawn to the centre of an image so it’s not something you’re likely to notice often and it’s not like it’s a routine occurrence either but it does merit investigation by LG’s engineers.
We’ve also noted all of the feedback in our various LG OLED Owners threads regarding performance near black, particularly with regards to a panel banding effect and some scenes from Interstellar and Jaws. We can confirm that we saw some (extremely brief) banding and blocking issues with Interstellar but we could see no issues with the ‘campfire scene’ in Jaws. The fact we had to specifically go looking, rather than seeing anything similar in around 80hrs of viewing, is probably telling and we wouldn’t want to put people off on these grounds whatsoever; the LG EC970V boasts absolutely stunning dark scene performance with generally excellent shadow detailing that ups the already astonishing dynamic range of this TV.
For all that we’ve dedicated three paragraphs relating to picture problems, don’t think for a minute that this TV doesn’t generally look incredible. The fact is, when you place yourself at the top of the pile, as LG has, both in terms of pricing and proclamations of picture perfection, you invite this level of scrutiny and we know from past experience that LG always takes feedback seriously and will always do their best to resolve even the most minor niggles.
How future-proof is this TV?
|4K Ultra HD Resolution|
|Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best)||84%|
|HDMI 2.0a Inputs|
|HDCP 2.2 Support|
|4K Streaming Services|
|Smart TV Platform|
|Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10)||8|
|What do these mean?|
- Incredible blacks
- Near unlimited contrast
- Believable colours
- Gorgeous to look at
- Slick Smart features
- Some uniformity issues
- Unforgiving of lesser quality sources
- Poor calibration controls
- The EG960V costs the same but is better
LG 65EC970V (EC970V) Ultra HD 4K OLED TV Review
Should I buy the LG 65EC970V?There is absolutely loads to love about the LG 65EC970V but this is a very tough one to answer, not least because we’ve only just reviewed one of the 970V’s successors in the EG960V. The 65-inch version of LG’s latest 4K OLED line is also priced identically to the EC970V, which all leaves us very confused as to the company’s strategy here. Despite the near infinite black levels and picture contrast, believable colours, gorgeous design and slick smart features found in the EC970V, we already know that LG has bettered the calibration software – and boy did they need to – improved webOS and made the menus slicker in the EG960. That begs the question why wouldn’t you plump for the new and improved version?
The answer to that question, we guess, is that since reviewing the, then available, EG960V it seems to have disappeared from retail channels so who knows who long you would have to wait. The company’s track record in over-promising and under-delivering in the OLED department are well known. So, the probable fact of the matter is, the 65-inch LG 65EC970V is the best available television currently (May 2015) on the market. It is very expensive and it’s definitely not perfect but, still, it makes for absolutely outstanding viewing and comes Highly Recommended.
What else could I consider?Other than the waiting for the EG960, which is what I would be inclined to do given the funding, we would also recommend checking out the sensational Samsung UE65JS9000, which can’t match the black levels of OLED but does boast HDR technology and more sympathetic handling of lower resolution sources.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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