What is the LG E7?
As you’ve probably realised by now LG place a great deal of importance on their partnership with Dolby and there’s no doubt that their support of Dolby Vision will appeal to consumers, especially now that discs and players supporting the format are available. However both Sony and Loewe also support Dolby Vision so, unlike last year, LG won’t have a monopoly on that particular feature. They also won’t have a monopoly on OLED this year with not only Panasonic, Sony and Loewe offering OLED TVs but Philips joining the party with the excellent 55POS901F.
Despite all these new names in the market place, LG’s biggest competition for the E7 might ironically come from themselves. The manufacturer has publicly stated that all their 2017 OLED TVs all use the same panel and picture processing, as well as include all the same features and WebOS smart platform. So on paper at least the only benefits that the E7 offers over the cheaper B7 are the ‘Picture-on-Glass’ design and built-in soundbar. If those features are important to you then the E7 is clearly the superior option but if not, then would the B7 make a better choice for someone whose main priority is picture quality?
The OLED65E7 that we're reviewing has a suggested retail price of £4,999 as at the time of writing (June 2017) but the OLED65B7 can be picked up for less, at just £4,499. In this review we’ll test the performance of the 65E7 and compare it to the recently reviewed Sony KD-65A1 and Panasonic TX-65EZ1002 OLED TVs. However we will also directly compare the E7 to the OLED55B7 that we had in for review at the same time to establish whether there really is any difference in terms of picture quality and decide whether the E7 not only holds its own against the competition but also justifies a higher price compared to its stablemate.
Connections & Control
Features & Specs
MORE: What is Dolby Vision?
As with previous generations WebOS includes the LG Content Store, a full web browser, all the main video streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix, Now TV, YouTube, Wuaki TV and a complete set of TV catch-up services. It's a testament to how effective the WebOS platform was from the very start that, even in its latest iteration, it remains essentially the same aside from a few tweaks. It's also robust, stable and responsive and, in our opinion it remains the best designed and most intuitive Smart TV system available.
So where does the E7 differ from the cheaper B7? Well it includes a built-in soundbar that is similar to the one on the E6 but this year it has 4.2-channels and 60W of amplification. We'll cover this soundbar and the Dolby Atmos support in more detail in the sound quality section of this review but suffice to say that the E7 sounds significantly better than the B7. One thing we did notice is that unlike on previous generations of LG TVs, the name Harman/Kardon is conspicuous by its absence but that's hardly surprising given that the audio company was bought by arch-rivals Samsung at the end of 2016.
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-Box
All our measurements were done with a Klein K-10A colour meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN Ultimate calibration software. You can find our suggested settings here or alternatively you can follow the simple steps in our PicturePerfect Guide.
Picture Settings – Calibrated
Picture Settings – High Dynamic Range
We actually measured the peak brightness of the E7 at 670nits using a 10% window and we could get nearer 700nits with a 1% window, which means that those peak or specular highlights can appear quite bright. In addition, since an OLED works at a pixel level the highlights can also be delivered with exacting precision. However the E7 could only deliver 320nits on a 50% screen and 140nits on a 100% screen because it's ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter) kicks in as the overall APL (Average Picture Level) gets brighter, although this is an improvement on last year because it kicks in at a higher level resulting in an image that is brighter overall.
Since the content is graded at peak brightnesses that are higher than the TV is capable of, it has to tone map the content to match its actual capabilities. Tone mapping is a generic term that describes the process by which the peak brightness and colour gamut that the HDR content was graded at is adjusted to fit the capabilities of the TV itself. The graph above shows a how the E7 tone maps a 4,000nits HDR signal with a 10% window and as you can see it is doing an excellent job within the limitations of its 700nits of peak brightness.
LG has taken the approach of maintaining the peak highlights in content at the expense of the overall picture brightness, as a result bright detail isn't clipped (lost) but the overall image can appear darker. There is no right or wrong approach here, since there is no agreed method of tone mapping, each manufacturer can use their own method of delivering HDR. However we do feel that LG's approach, much like Panasonic's, is intended to retain the content creators' intentions as closely as possible whilst allowing for the limitations of the TV itself. Interestingly, although the E7 and the B7 had very similar brightness measurements, the E7 actually tracked the PQ EOTF slightly more accurately.
The greyscale is extremely even which means that the E7 is delivering D65 accurately for HDR – both SDR and HDR use the same target for white. The E7 is also tracking the PQ EOTF (the perceptual curve used for HDR) extremely accurately right right up to the point where it hits the limitation of its own brightness. As a result the errors are all below the visible threshold (the first time we've seen this on an HDR TV) and the E7 is delivering a highly accurate HDR performance in terms of tone mapping the peak brightness. LG have also added a 2-point white balance control for HDR, which makes fine tuning the greyscale performance easier.
The graph above shows the spectrum of colours visible to the human eye (the horseshoe shape) and the triangle is Rec. 2020. The native colour gamut of the E7 managed to cover just under 71% of Rec. 2020 which is very good and it also managed to track the saturation targets quite closely within the limitations of its native colour gamut. Interestingly the B7 measured at 72% but that's probably just due to panel variations. However although the graph above shows Rec. 2020, the content is actually created using a professional colour gamut called DCI-P3 which is then delivered within this Rec. 2020 container.
The idea of a colour volume is nothing new, a TV has always had a colour volume composed of its brightness (luminance) performance and its native colour gamut, but it has taken on greater importance with the advent of HDR. That's because these days the colour volume of the content is much bigger and so the larger the colour volume of the TV the more effectively it can tone map that content. Imagine if you had two containers, one can hold 2 lines and the other 1 litre, and you try to fit 4 litres into each – neither container is ideal but you'll find it easier with the 2 litre container.
The problem is that, as with almost everything else related to HDR, there is no agreed standard of measuring colour volume. Here at AVForums we use two approaches, the first is the Relative Colour Volume, which takes the display's own peak brightness and measures the colour volume relative to that peak brightness based on the CIE L*a*b* colour graph and 140 data points. For the E7 we got measurements of 110% against Rec. 709, 74% against DCI-P3 and 50% against Rec. 2020 but these measurements aren't taking into account the maximum nits that the content is graded at, so it really isn't that informative.
A better approach is to measure the Perceptual Colour Volume, which uses the PQ EOTF out to 10,000nits and the Rec. 2020 colour gamut measured using the ICtCp colour graph which takes into account human visual perception. This measurement uses 393 data points and delivers a number expressed in Millions of Distinguishable Colours (MDC). So a theoretical display that could deliver 10,000nits of peak brightness and 100% of Rec. 2020 would be able to deliver 997 million distinguishable colours or an MDC number of 997 and by comparison the E7 produced an MDC number of 348.
Not only is this approach more representative of a TV's capabilities but it also provides a single number that makes comparing different TVs much easier. In fact since we were testing the B7 at the same time, we had an opportunity to put this particular approach into practice because, as mentioned, the B7 actually performed slightly better than the E7 in terms of the HDR measurements. As a result the B7's relative measurements were 122% against Rec. 709, 81% against DCI-P3 and 55% against Rec. 2020, which seem much larger, but its MDC number was only one higher at 349. As with the SDR measurements both the E7 and B7 are very similar and any differences are probably just the result of panel variations but the E7 again seemed slightly more refined in its overall implementation.
Black Levels and Contrast RatiosIf you ever experienced an OLED TV or know anything about the technology it shouldn't surprise you to discover that the E7 knock it out of the park in terms of its black levels and contrast ratios. We measured the black level at zero and the E7 could easily hit our SDR target of 120nits, which equates to an on/off contrast ratio of infinity. The same was true with the ANSI contrast ratio, so the resulting images had an incredible dynamic range and thus a marvellous sense of depth. It's worth remembering that in all this talk of peak brightness for HDR, a dynamic range goes from black to white and a TV's ability to display blacks and detail just above black is just as important. In fact it might be more important because our eyes are much better at distinguishing details in dark images than they are with bright images.
If you actually look at the PQ EOTF which is based on human visual perception, you'll see that it's not a linear curve and there are more gradations at the darker end of the scale than the brighter end. An OLED TV clearly has a distinct advantage over an LCD TV in terms of delivering deep blacks with both SDR and HDR images and we're glad to see that LG have made great improvements to the performance of their OLED panels just above black. Using test scenes we could see that the detail in shadows was more defined and although that applied to both SDR and HDR it was more noticeable with the latter. We have noticed the superior shadow detail on the W7, the E7 and also the B7, so it would appear these improvements just above black apply to all of LG's 2017 models. This is great news because black crush was definitely an issue last year.
Screen UniformityOverall the screen uniformity of the E7 was excellent and when using 1 to 5% full-field grey test patterns the panel was free of the vignetting (dark edges) that had affected previous generations. The panel was also free of any discolouration or DSE (dirty screen effect) that has also been an issue in previous years, nor was there any macro-blocking unless it happened to be in the source material. As with all OLED panels there was some very minor vertical banding that we could see with dedicated test patterns but this wasn't apparent when watching normal content. We watched quite a bit of football and rugby during our time with the E7 and we were almost never aware of any banding as the camera panned quickly across the pitch. In fact we'd say that whilst the E7 was the same as the B7 in this regard, they were superior to the Sony A1 and Panasonic EZ1002 both of which had at least one band that was visible with certain content. We were also pleased to see that neither the E7 or B7 suffered from any image retention, even when we were using high contrast HDR test patterns.
Motion HandlingOverall we found the motion handling on the E7 to be what we would expect for an OLED TV with around 300 lines of motion resolution with TruMotion turned off. We actually found that even with football and other fast paced sports we were happy to watch without the TruMotion engaged and never distracted by the motion handling. However we do appreciate that many people struggle with any form of judder and thus will want to use the TruMotion feature. The motion resolution will increase to nearer 1000 once you engage either the Clear or Smooth settings but this will introduced excessive smoothing and the dreaded 'soap opera effect'.
This won't necessarily be an issue with sports content but we did sometimes notice artefacts other than smoothing, so don't consider TruMotion to be a magic bullet when it comes to motion handling. For movies we would recommend either turning TruMotion off entirely or experimenting with the User setting, which allows you to customise the amount of Deblur and Dejudder. This approach will allow you to increase the motion resolution without adding unnatural smoothing that would rob a movie of its film-like quality, however you could still introduce occasional unwanted artefacts.
Standard Dynamic Range ContentWhen it came to watching Standard Dynamic Range content the E7 was a stellar performer and the combination of deep blacks, accurate images and excellent video processing resulted in some wonderful SDR pictures. The inherent dynamic range gave images tremendous depth and solidity, whilst the viewing angles were extremely wide. The accuracy of the greyscale, gamma and colour gamut also played their parts and all these factors, combined with the good motion handling and effective upscaling of lower resolution content, resulted in beautifully rendered images. We don't watch much standard definition content these days but even Agents of SHIELD on E4 managed to look good.
Once we moved on to high definition content the benefits of the OLED panel were even more apparent with dramas and documentaries looking especially good. The pictures delivered deep blacks where necessary but retained fine detail in the shadows. The processing was able to scale the high definition images to match the 4K panel and high quality documentaries from the BBC looked incredible on the E7 with detailed images that retained a natural and realistic appearance. As we have already mentioned, football looked great on the E7 with good motion handling and no signs of annoying banding. The LG also handled the video streaming services well, with both Netflix and Amazon delivering marvellous looking images with well-shot shows such as Better Call Saul and American Gods.
Of course, when it comes to Blu-rays the E7 simply stepped up a gear and a computer-generated film like Moana looked absolutely gorgeous. The detail in the animated images were perfectly rendered and the deep blacks combined with the superb greyscale and colour accuracy produced images that popped off the screen. The Blu-ray release of Doctor Strange was equally as impressive, with the E7 delivering the trippy visuals with great verve. The film’s many darker scenes were particularly well rendered whilst the imaginative action scenes were reproduced with beautiful colours and plenty of fine detail. It's a shame that we can no longer enjoy the film in 3D on a 2017 LG OLED but the 2D images were simply superb and just edged the equally as impressive B7.
HDR10 ContentWe have already spent quite a lot of time discussing HDR in the test sections but there's only so much you can tell from patterns and graphs, ultimately you need to start watching some actual HDR content and find out how the display really performs. The E7 certainly didn't disappoint when it came to HDR with all of the factors that we have mentioned so far coming into play. The fact that the LG can deliver almost the entire DCI-P3 colour space accurately meant that films like The Revenant retained a saturated but natural appearance. The 10-bit encoding meant that the images were also free from banding, the 24p was handled well and films that used a 4K digital intermediate like The Revenant and Sully looked incredibly detailed.
A recent release like The Great Wall was an excellent example of just how good an Ultra Blu-ray can look with a native 4K image, wide colour gamut and HDR10. The E7 did a fantastic job delivering every pixel of detail and all the colours whilst also tone mapping the HDR accurately and rendering the specular highlights with precision. The nighttime scenes were also reproduced very effectively, delivering deep blacks but retaining the details in shadows. When it came to our go-to test disc Planet Earth II, the results were just as good and the incredible images often looked stunning on the E7.
The E7 also correctly tone mapped the sun behind the mountain in the 'Arriving in Neverland' scene in Pan, so that the disc of the sun was visible within its glow. It was only with particularly dark film such as Underworld: Blood Wars that LG's approach to tone mapping became apparent. In order to retain the specular highlights the rest of the image could appear rather dark but we would rather that have detail clipped in the highlights. This is essentially a limitation of the static metadata used on HDR10 content but the improved ABL performance certainly helped and we never found the sometimes darker image to be an issue, whilst the deep blacks and improved shadow detail certainly helped.
Whilst it is true that an LCD TV will have advantages in areas like peak brightness and the overall picture level, allowing for larger overall colour volume, the pixel-level precision of an OLED combined with its deep blacks and superior shadow detail do even things out. The E7 was certainly a great performer with HDR, producing some lovely images and we were pleased to see that the B7 was equally as impressive in this area, proving that LG have been true to their word in terms of all their 2017 range performing the same when it comes to picture quality.
LG OLED65E7V Video Review
What is new for this year is the addition of Dolby Atmos processing, which has been developed to deliver an immersive experience from the soundbar built into the E7. Whilst this might sound impossible, we had a demonstration of this technology from Dolby and, much to our surprise, it actually worked, creating a wider soundstage and a more immersive experience from only two speakers. We found that in our own home the effect was less impressive and although it did create a greater sense of presence to the audio, when watching actual Dolby Atmos demos that we were familiar with we knew what was missing. In one particularly obvious sequence where thunderous bass is supposed to rumble around the room there was absolutely nothing. So whilst this kind of Dolby Atmos support is a nice thing to have, it will never replace a proper Dolby Atmos setup and in reality the sound quality of the E7 was dependent on the built-in soundbar rather than psychoacoustic processing. The sound quality is certainly good enough for general TV watching but with an screen like this you owe it too yourself to look at a superior outboard audio solution.
MORE: What is Dolby Atmos
Input Lag & Energy Consumption
In terms of the E7’s energy consumption it proved to be comparable to other OLED TVs that we have reviewed recently and using a full window 50% white pattern we measured the Eco picture mode at 140W and our calibrated ISF mode at 87W. Once we moved on to HDR the level of energy consumption obviously increased and the E7 was drawing 168W with our optimal settings.
How future-proof is this TV?
|4K Ultra HD Resolution|
|Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best)||71%|
|HDMI 2.0a Inputs|
|HDCP 2.2 Support|
|4K Streaming Services|
|Smart TV Platform|
|Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10)||9|
|What do these mean?|
- Superb blacks and contrast ratio
- Fantastic dynamic range
- Impressive image accuracy
- Great detail just above black
- Excellent video processing
- Dolby Vision support
- Gorgeous design
- Very low input lag
- Very minor banding just above black
LG 65E7 4K OLED TV Review
Should I buy one?The E7 is a fantastic OLED TV that delivers in every area that you would expect from a modern display. It's beautifully designed and well made, there are plenty of connections, a great remote and an excellent smart platform that includes all the video streaming services you could ever want. The built-in soundbar is very good and whilst the Dolby Atmos support is never going to deliver a real immersive experience it does help enhance the audio. The picture quality is superb, with an accurate greyscale, gamma and colour gamut, deep blacks and improved shadow detail. The performance with both standard and high dynamic range content was impressive and whilst the limited brightness may occasionally be a factor with HDR, the fact that the E7 supports every available version of HDR does give it an edge over much of the competition. The LG OLED65E7 is a great TV that combines state-of-the-art features with a touch of class and as such comes highly recommended.
What are my alternatives?In the same price bracket as the E7 you have the Sony KD-65A1 and the Panasonic TX-65EZ952. We have already reviewed the A1, which delivered an equally impressive performance combined with an ingenious acoustic surface that uses the screen as a speaker. The A1 is a masterclass in minimalist design and will also support Dolby Vision but overall we preferred the look, features and performance of the E7. Although we haven't reviewed the EZ952 yet, based on the TX-65EZ1002 we would expect a very accurate and highly capable performer. However the EZ952 doesn't have quite the design flair and feature set of the E7 and the lack of Dolby Vision support could be an issue for Panasonic.
The real question is whether to go for the OLED65B7 instead and save yourself £500. The simple answer is that if you're not bothered about the Picture-on-Glass design, built-in soundbar, dual tuners and flashy remote then there's no reason not to. We did feel that the accuracy of the E7 was that bit more refined compared to the B7 but in every other respect the two TVs are identical with the same image features and performance. The B7 is an attractively designed TV and whilst not quite as well made as the E7 it is feature-packed and one hell of a performer, making it a hard to resist at the price. However if you like the look of the E7 and want those little touches of refinement then you won't be disappointed either.
MORE: Read All OLED TV Reviews
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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