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LG B9 4K OLED Review

A feature-packed entry-level OLED TV

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £1,299.99

What is the LG B9?


The LG B9 is the entry-level OLED TV in the 2019 range and while it uses the same panel as the higher models, it also has Alpha 7 Gen 2 processor instead of the higher level Alpha 9 Gen 2. This means it has slightly less processing power compared to the C9 and E9 but it also costs much less as a result, however, it does incorporate deep learning AI technology to improve performance.

The B9 doesn’t lack in features and has full HDMI 2.1 connections and will playback Dolby Vision, HLG and HDR10 HDR formats with Dynamic Tone Mapping for HDR10 along with Dolby Atmos sound decoding. There is no support for HDR10+ so it doesn’t offer the same flexibility as OLEDs from Philips and Panasonic in 2019.

So, can the entry-level OLED screen offer the same performance as its bigger brothers for less, or are you better saving up and going for the C9 instead? Let’s find out.

MORE: What is HDR?

LG B9 Video Review


Design, Connections and Control

The design of the B9 is simple, yet elegant. There is no complicated stand design like the E9 as everything is simplified and functional. There is a 1mm metal strip around the screen which is super thin at the top, before getting thicker towards the bottom for the electronics and speakers.

LG OLED55B9

The stand is made of lightweight plastic and simply screws into the centre rear of the panel and it has an LG OLED badge on the left front side. It’s cheap and plastic in nature, but it does hold the panel steady.

LG OLED55B9

Around the back, we have the connections on the right as you look at it from the rear, with sideways and rearward ports. Sideways we have a CI slot and three HDMI 2.1 ports with ARC on HDMI 2 along with a single USB underneath these. Rearwards we have a fourth HDMI 2.1 slot and two USB ports as well as satellite and RF antennas. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack, digital audio output and a LAN port.

LG OLED55B9

The remote control is the now-standard LG Magic Remote. It fits neatly in the hand and is incredibly intuitive to use. It has direct access keys for Netflix and Prime Video with central direction and enter keys and an on-screen pointer.

MORE: Do I need HDMI 2.1?

  It’s cheap and plastic in nature, but it does hold the panel steady

Measurements

Out of the Box

As we always do within our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen.

Calibration is not always an option for end-users, so actually knowing how accurate the out of the box presets are is very important in any honest TV review. We see absolutely no point in assessing and reviewing TVs in only the perfectly calibrated picture modes as this doesn’t reflect what the vast majority of buyers will experience with the TV. We don’t only focus on the calibrated performance here at AVForums.

LG OLED55B9

Looking at the greyscale results out of the box we can see that the B9 is very accurate indeed. There’s a slight drop in red and a little rise in green through the tracking, but our DeltaE errors are under the visible threshold of three, and gamma is tracking well. We don’t see any of these errors when watching normal TV and film content, so we can say that the B9 is accurate.

LG OLED55B9

The colour gamut coverage to Rec.709 HD is also very good indeed with no major issues seen at all in the saturation tracking chart. Almost all the points are bang on where they should be with just a slight oversaturation of red stopping the chart from looking perfect. However, this oversaturation is not seen within film and TV content viewed on the B9.

  The B9 is capable of excellent results out of the box and when calibrated

Calibrated

With such accurate images out of the box, there is only a small amount of calibration required to reach reference levels. Most users would never see the difference between the accurate out of the box settings and a full calibration, but for the sake of this review, we will push for perfection, in the graphs.

LG OLED55B9

As we can see in the greyscale graph, we managed to get absolute reference levels of accuracy from the B9 following calibration. We really couldn’t get it any more accurate to the standards.

LG OLED55B9

Our colour gamut to Rec.709 HD was also superbly accurate with absolutely no visible errors seen within normal film and TV content. The B9 is capable of excellent results out of the box and when calibrated.

HDR Results

As we would expect from an LG OLED, we managed to get very good out of the box results with the HDR10 measurements in the most accurate cinema preset to D65 white point.

LG OLED55B9

We measured a peak brightness of 550 nits on the industry-standard 10% window and this was also the same at 1, 2 and 5% as well, which points to very good specular highlights. As we keep saying within our reviews, this is only one small part of what makes up an HDR10 image as tone mapping and other factors also impact on how good the HDR image quality will be.

LG OLED55B9

The PQ EOTF also tracks to the standard well before rolling off to the peak brightness limit of 550 nits for the B9. This shows that the HDR10 performance is tracking as required by the ST.2084 standard. You also have the dynamic tone mapping that will also make a difference to HDR10 content.

LG OLED55B9

The wide colour gamut coverage to DCI-P3 is also very good for an OLED TV, with decent saturation tracking from 75% and below with only a hue error in magenta drawing attention for being too wide. However, with actual HDR10 film content, we didn’t notice any major issues with colour saturation or accuracy, with the B9 able to reproduce colour well. The B9 is not capable of covering the entire P3 gamut saturation points and like all OLEDs is limited in colour volume. We measured BT2020 coverage at 71% XY and 76% UV with P3 at 96% Xy and 98% UV.

MORE: What is WCG?

Performance

Using the same 2019 panel as the C9 and E9 but with the Alpha 7 Gen 2 processor, the first question has to be what difference does that make to the image quality? The answer is not a great deal to be honest, but a keen eye will see a difference with colours and some just above black crush. Also noted was some black flicker and flashing with low compression content and it was a little slow to make changes between TV channels and apps in comparison to our reference C9. In most other respects, it is very similar to the other OLEDs in the LG range.

Screen uniformity was very good with just a few small light bands visible on a 5% slide and no issues with any colour tint or darkening with brighter full-screen colours. There was no dirty screen effect at all on the B9.

 ... a keen eye will see a difference with colours and some just above black crush

Video processing was excellent with very good upscaling and no signs of edge enhancement or ringing to straight edges. It is also good to see the Smooth Gradation addition to the menu system and not in the noise reduction menu like last year. It works well but would also appear to still add some noise reduction that scrubs some fine detail.

24fps content was very good with no obvious issues with induced judder when TruMotion was switched off. You can, of course, add in interpolation and smoothing for video content if that is what you want to see with sports or other content. We did notice artefacts were present in almost all of the interpolation modes, even when turned down low, so care needs to be taken.

We really couldn’t fault the LG B9 when it came to SDR picture performance. It looks incredibly accurate for skin tone and natural colours, with deep blacks and superb shadow detailing. Motion is good and the image looks sharp and detailed. There was a little crush seen with tricky mixed scenes, but these were infrequent and only noticeable in pitch black viewing environments. Old classics like Jaws looked incredibly cinematic.

  The image was bright and detailed with decent specular highlights and nice-looking colours

HDR content also looked very good with that superb per pixel dynamic range that OLED is capable of. The image was bright and detailed with decent specular highlights and nice-looking colours. Only when compared to the C9 does the B9 look a little less dynamic and involving but this is really splitting hairs at this point. It doesn’t quite have the immediate pop or natural colour tones of the C9 or Panasonic rivals, but I would suggest that only those looking for absolutely image accuracy would notice. With HDR content, the B9 is exceptionally good with only more expensive models having a smidge more to offer. It is no slouch and offers excellent SDR and HDR performance for the price point. Dolby Vision performance was also excellent and didn't exhibit any issues with black levels or colour performance. We also enjoyed the current run of Seven Worlds, One Planet in 4K HLG on the iPlayer which again looked stunning with superb detail and natural colours.

The B9 is also a great gaming TV with all the advantages of HDMI 2.1 and an input lag of 12.8ms which matches the C9 and E9 models. There is also the full-on WebOS operating system and Smart TV engine that is one of the very best on the market with a stable performance between apps and features. We did notice a slight lag when compared to the C9, but we doubt anyone else would notice this in actual use. Overall, we really can’t fault the B9 at all for image and overall performance.

 ... it has almost all the features of the C9 and E9 and gets very close in terms of performance

Verdict

The Good

  • Superb accuracy out of the box for SDR
  • Excellent HDR10, HLG & Dolby Vision HDR
  • Dynamic tone mapping for HDR10
  • HDMI 2.1 inputs
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Excellent OS and Smart TV
  • Price

The Bad

  • No HDR10+
  • Slightly laggy compared to A9 Gen2 sets
  • Build quality suits price point

LG B9 4K OLED Review

The LG B9 is a strong OLED TV with excellent SDR and good HDR image quality along with superb gaming features and lag time, plus one of the best OS and Smart TV systems on the market. It is also keenly priced and offers HDMI 2.1 connectors along with Dolby Vision, HLG and HDR10 high dynamic systems, with dynamic tone mapping for HDR10 content. So it has almost all the features of the C9 and E9 and gets very close in terms of performance.

The problem for the B9 is the fact that the C9 can now be had for very similar money and our recommendation would be to go with the C9 if your budget can stretch a few hundred pounds more. Given the rest of the competition is also now very close in price and in some cases offers slightly better performance, it sadly does work against the B9 slightly.

We just can’t fault the LG B9 given its performance and price point along with the features it offers. But sadly, its own stablemates and the intense competition do make it a tougher sell than perhaps LG imagined when they developed the B9 as a lower-cost entry point. That doesn’t take away from the overall strengths of the B9 and we would still give it a recommended badge as it certainly deserves one on merit, but the market hasn’t perhaps been as kind and you have a tough decision to make.

MORE: LG C9 OLED review and LG E9 OLED review

Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Video Processing

.
.
.
7

Picture Quality

.
9

SDR Picture Quality

.
9

HDR Picture Quality

.
.
8

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
.
8

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Smart Features

.
9

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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