What is the LG 55EA980 OLED TV?
Patience might well be a virtue but LG were certainly starting to try ours when it came to OLED.
Design and Connections
The EA980 has a THX Cinema mode, although we ended up using the Expert mode for our basic out-of-the-box setup because whilst both modes shared the same characteristics, we could get a slightly more accurate response from the latter. As usual we set the OLED Light, Contrast and Brightness controls to suit our viewing environment and moved the Sharpness controls down to zero. We selected a Colour Temperature of Warm2, the Rec709 Colour Gamut and a Gamma of 2.2. The resulting performance was reasonably good, with gamma tracking around 2.2 and the DeltaEs (errors) measuring between 2 and 6. Whilst these errors were visible, the result of a slight excess of green in the greyscale, they were only minor. The colour gamut was also very good, with all the colours measuring close to their targets and the only noticeable errors being in the saturation of red and the hue of cyan and magenta. Overall this is an excellent out-of-the-box performance from the EA980.
The EA980 includes both a two- and a twenty-point white balance control and it was relatively easy to adjust the greyscale using the two-point and then fine tune with the twenty-point. The result was a reference greyscale, with errors that were less than one (well below the threshold of human perception) and a gamma that was still tracking around 2.2. We then moved onto the colour management system (CMS) and we were pleased to see we had none of the problems that we experienced with LG's LA970 Ultra HD TV. We struggled to get the saturation of red, cyan and yellow exactly right but everything else was spot on and the overall errors were all below two and most were below one.
We expected the EA980 to perform well in these tests, especially after our experiences with the Samsung KE55S9 but LG have managed to top their rivals by the tinniest of margins. As expected we measured black at 0.000cd/m2, which means if the EA980 was putting out any light our Klein K-10 was unable to register it. The EA980 was also very bright, easily hitting the 120cd/m2 that we use as a target for our critical viewing tests but going up as high as 350cd/m2. That means that technically the EA980 has an infinite on/off contrast ratio, a feat it managed to repeat when we measured the ANSI contrast ratio. We’ve never seen measurements this good, not even on Samsung's S9, so the LG sets a new benchmark record when it comes to black level, contrast ratio and dynamic range.
We were also pleased to see that the screen uniformity was excellent with no light pooling or bright edges. In fact the EA980 delivered a wonderfully consistent image that was free of any of the annoying issues that so often plague LCD and plasma TVs. So there was no banding, haloing or dirty screen effect, nor were there any dead pixels or evidence of image retention. We noticed that if you left a static image up, after a few minutes the screen dimmed, which we assume is to prevent any image retention or screen burn. As far as the lifespan of an OLED TV is concerned that remains to be seen but LG's use of a white OLED and colour filters means that they don't have to worry about blue decay.
The video processing on LG TVs has always been great and so it was no surprise when the EA980 aced the tests. The LG had no problems deinterlacing and scaling standard definition content, with excellent detail and no unwanted ringing. It also had no problems detecting both 3:2 and 2:2 cadence correctly or handling scrolling video text over film. The EA980 performed equally as well in the other tests, delivering a superb performance. The quality of the video deinterlacing at 1080i50 was just as good as it was for standard definition and there were no apparent issues with 24p content. There were also no signs of clipping in red, green or blue; whilst we could see all the detail up to video level 255 and down to video level 17.
Despite the incredibly fast response times of OLED, just like the Samsung KE55S9 the motion handling was more LCD-like, delivering about 400 lines of resolution with TruMotion off. Presumably LG are also driving the OLED pixels in their TV using a method called ‘sample-and-hold’ which, as the name suggests, displays and holds a static frame until the next one is refreshed. The only way to reduce motion blur caused by ‘sample-and-hold’ is to shorten the amount of time the frame is held for by engaging TruMotion. However we actually found that whilst TruMotion did improve the lines of resolution, it also introduced some quite noticeable artefacts, regardless of which setting we used - so we would recommend not using TruMotion, even for sports based action.
We measured the input lag at 138ms in the calibrated Expert1 mode and 54ms in the Game mode. We tried renaming the input to PC but this didn't make any difference, so 54ms is the lowest input lag we could measure. Whilst this is undoubtedly too high for the hard core gamers, it's probably fine for most people and it was slightly better than the lag on the Samsung OLED. It's debatable whether anyone would buy an OLED TV exclusively for gaming but we found the images to be gorgeous and the motion handling was good, resulting in a highly enjoyable bout of mayhem on GTA5. The EA980's excellent 3D performance was also evident during a prolonged session playing Wipe Out, with the bright image, the deep blacks and passive glasses making the experience both immersive and comfortable..
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 94W
Calibrated - Expert1 2D Mode: 95W
Calibrated - Expert1 3D Mode: 116W
LG 55EA980 Picture Quality - 2D
We popped on the scene in the last Harry Potter film where Voldemorts army amasses on a hill at night, always a difficult test for LCD TVs, where all those blacks , browns and greys just merge into one. Not with the EA980, the LG reproduced it perfectly, demonstrating excellent shadow detail to go with those perfect blacks. As luck would have it, our Blu-ray of Gravity arrived before the EA980 was collected, giving us an opportunity to spin a reference quality disc and boy did it look good. Since the film contains numerous scenes set in the pitch blackness of space, often with bright white spacesuits and space ships against the void, it was an ideal test of OLED's inherent strength - dynamic range. The scenes we watched from Gravity just looked incredible, the blacks were completely black, the whites were bright, the colours natural and the detail just staggering. There's no question that OLED is the future of TV and it's hard to imagine it can look much better, aside from increasing the resolution. Although it's debatable how much benefit you would derive from 4K on a 55-inch screen.
LG 55EA980 Video Review
LG 55EA980 Picture Quality - 3D
- Absolute black levels
- Reference dynamic range and contrast ratios
- Reference greyscale and colour accuracy
- Excellent video processing
- Superb 3D performance
- Reference features and smart platform
- Excellent build quality
- Great sound
- Curved screen will divide opinion
- Can't be wall mounted
- Input lag too high for serious gamers
- Motion resolution is 400 lines with TruMotion off
LG 55EA980 (EA980) Curved OLED TV Review
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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