Best LED TV for subtitles (no artifacts like blooming)

salkcin

Novice Member
I'm looking to start a discussion on how to get the best possible high-end'ish LED TV that that has excellent picture quality and does not have issues with subtitles and consistent performance in near black images. Some of the issues is blooming (for FALD/dimming TV sets), black crush (lack of shadow details) or bad black uniformity (typically Edge lit).
*OLED will solve a lot of this (except black crush issues), but I use my TV as PC monitor along with normal streaming and broadcast/cable and burn-in is a real concern. Lets not discuss burn-in concerns and focus on LED options. There is a lot of other threads discussing OLED vs LED and burn-in concerns. Not the objective of this thread.

It seems a lot of LED TV's focus on getting the best contrast ratio/black level possible with use of technologies or with design compromises without to much care about introducing artifacts like blooming or issues with some content like black crush (who can blame them - reviewers will slaugher LED TV's that don't use these technologies and give higher ratings to TV's with artifacts than TV's with no artifacts which has a little worse blacks).
I'd personally rather have a TV with a consistent image with "bad", but acceptable black levels, than a TV with good blacks, but artifacts/missing details with some content.

It might be a special case since I live in Denmark (Scandinavia). Here we watch all TV shows/movies in their original language with subtitles (mostly american content). So like 80% of all content we watch here is with subtitles compared to other european contries that will dub the content with their own native languages or english speaking countries that will just watch the show in the original language without subtitles.
Modern high-end LED TV sets with FALD has issues with subtitles such as blooming. It can be very distracting and to me very annoying. For regular video content I rarely notice blooming so I get it will not be a big issue for countries where subtitles is not common - there local dimming is actually a genuine improvement, but it is really a pain with subtitles - especially in movies with black bars. So this might mostly be an issue in countries where a lot of content is with subtitles, and most will buy OLED's so it's probably a niche market for a "upper-midrange/high-end" LED TV without blooming.

Getting a TV without blooming is easy - buy one without local dimming, but usually these are low/mid-end TV's with average picture quality, bad motion handling, grey blacks or bad black uniformity. So again what is the best strategy to get a bloom-free TV with excellent picture, good motion handling and decent blacks.
From my view the foundation for such a TV would be 100/120Hz panel, direct lit/backlit, VA panel. But getting that in a TV that also has a quality panel with good DCI-P3 colorspace coverage and a good picture processer engine is almost non-existent, and first model in a lineup without local dimming is often a mid-range model that is 50/60Hz Edge-lit - something is missing to bridge the gap in the lineups in my opinion.

Some options:

1 - 100/120Hz backlit TV's without local dimming:

Seems to be very limited models available on the market with these specs. I found Philips PUS9206, Sony X85J/X85K and TCL72+ (aka C728). Not exactly high-end TV's, but they have 100/120Hz panels, backlit panels, no local dimming and 90%+ coverage of DCI P3 colorspace.

I owned the Philips PUS9206 recently, and returned it. It has crazy black crush/no shadow detail and dark shows like Game of Thrones and Walking dead you will not be able to see what's going on in many scenes. Using my i1Display Pro Plus I measured a gamma curve in all picture modes that was pretty flat 2,35, but 0-20% it would peak to 2,7-3. It was impossible to fix with 20 point white balance and upping the brightness would wash out the picture completely. In Calman picture mode the gamma 0-20% would not have the peak and I was able to calibrate perfect BT1886 gamma curve only in that picture mode using 20 point white balance, but that introduced big color banding issues in near-black images.
Else it was actually a TV with very good image with decent "deep" blacks that would give high-end'ish feel when putting on a 4K stream from Netflix, even though it's not a TV good for HDR (only 400-500 nit brightness). If it didn't have black crush I would not be making this thread - then it would be the answer.

TCL C72+ (C728) looks interesting with the recent EISA award.
Sony X85J seems not to have very good blacks compared to TCL and Philips and X85k is not released yet. But also might be an option.

2 - Get a high-end mini-led/FALD TV and disable local dimming

This strategy will ensure getting TV built of highest quality components. However I already own a Sony XH95 (aka X950H / XH9505) and when turning off local dimming the black levels are actually worse than the PUS9206 mentioned before. It looks more grey'ish like IPS panels can. Wonder if this is an issue for FALD sets with local dimming disabled since they where not built to have it disabled or if some of them will have "good native contrast" with local dimming disabled showing good blacks.
Some of the Samsung QLED upper-range TV's seem to have good native contrast even with local dimming disabled.

Another anoying thing is that local dimming will automatically re-enable itself. Whether being software updates, automatic content detection, "Netflix-calibrated settings" or whatever, it's a lot more convienient having a TV without the local dimming feature, because it will be turned on in some cases even though set to off, because we live in a automated world where others will tell you whats best for you. A TV should be setup one-off after purchase, and not a continues effort to adjust picture settings.

And a last thing is the high peak brightness of high-end TV's. Subtitles will sometimes be very very very bright and almost burn your eyes. Potentially a TV with 1000nit peak brightness should be able to be calibrated/adjusted to have the same behaviour as a TV with 500nit peak brightness, but it's really difficult to adjust and get a good picture without to bright subtitles. Again a lot more convienient having a TV that's naturally limited by hardware.
Personally best-in-class HDR performance is not that important to me. I still think the 4K HDR streams provide great improvement over SDR even on 400-500nit TV's, and most content is still SDR anyway.

3 - Add Edge-lit 100/120Hz TV's to the mix of potential TV's

Adding Edge-lit TV's to the mix of potential TV's increases the choices a lot. For example the Panasonic HX940/JX940's uses the top picture processing engine, and it also add's some Philips, LG NanoCell and Samsung QLED options to include Edge-lit.
Edge-lit's is subject to issues like bad black uniformity and backlight bleed. Well engineered edge-lit can mitigate these issues to a non-disturbing level - at least for PC monitors. Question is if 55 inch edge-lit TV's can solve these issues satisfyingly, being a lot bigger than PC monitors.


Discussion->

What is your take on these issues? Are you annoyed like me with blooming and what did you do to find an acceptable compromise?
Is the best option to get best possible picture quality scouting for specific specs (option 1), or buy a high-end TV set and disable dimming?
 
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Dodgexander

Moderator
Samsung are your best bet for eliminating blooming, look at the QN91A and above.
Yes, they crush some detail, but that's the price you pay. You cannot have best of both worlds unfortunately.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have TVs from Sony like the X95J. These models retain detail but have more blooming.

If you go for a non FALD model you get raised black levels throughout the entire screen instead of just one area. If this is something you can live with, then a cheaper TV, with no FALD may have less blooming around subtitles, but far worse uniformity overall due to lack of local dimming.

Sadly, I think you're looking for the impossible. Especially in the era of HDR where TVs are designed to get very bright and have even more trouble harnessing the blooming.
 

salkcin

Novice Member
Samsung are your best bet for eliminating blooming, look at the QN91A and above.
Yes, they crush some detail, but that's the price you pay. You cannot have best of both worlds unfortunately.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have TVs from Sony like the X95J. These models retain detail but have more blooming.

If you go for a non FALD model you get raised black levels throughout the entire screen instead of just one area. If this is something you can live with, then a cheaper TV, with no FALD may have less blooming around subtitles, but far worse uniformity overall due to lack of local dimming.

Sadly, I think you're looking for the impossible. Especially in the era of HDR where TVs are designed to get very bright and have even more trouble harnessing the blooming.

QN91A and above is miniled TV's with local dimming. I know minileds have improved control over blooming compared to their FALD counterparts, but to my knowledge they still don't have enough dimming zones to really eliminate blooming or am I mistaken here?

For me the right compromise is definitely getting a TV without dimming or disable dimming and live with raised black levels.
For IPS panels this is a big compromise as blacks will be elevated a lot, but I feel that VA panels without dimming can actually reach tolerable black levels. As stated earlier I'd rather have elevated blacks that are uniform across the picture than deep blacks and blooming.

As for overall uniformity it seems to be case by case per TV. Looking at something like Sony X95J and Samsung QN85A they are absolutely horrendous without local dimming enabled (seems like they didn't care since local dimming would be enabled anyway). But some TV's do have execellent uniformity with local dimming disabled or not available.

uniformityt.jpg


Looking at the Samsung Q60T on the picture attached I think it's evident it's possible to get a TV with no dimming that does good black levels with good uniformity. The question is just which TV's on the market can exhibit similar behaviour as Q60T with 100/120Hz panel and as much DCI-P3 colorspace coverage as possible for great rich colors.
The Philips PUS9206 I had did just as well as the Q60T and had 93% DCI P3 coverage and great image, but unfortunately had serious shadow detail issues basically showing a black picture for any colour 5-20% on the greyscale killing all detail.

As you stated I may be looking for the impossible, but I will give it a shot. Remember, I'm not looking for a proper high-end TV with great HDR. That will indeed be impossible.
But a TV with great fundamentals like uniformity, decent black level, no dimming and great high-end colorspace coverage should be possible to source :)
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
You could probably achieve the same result as the Q60T in that picture by turning the backlight down lower than the other TVs...although TVs that use IPS tech like the QN85A will never look good in darker conditions.
It could just be the Q60T is dimmer than the rest.

For HDR, when backlights are on full and TVs are designed to push out high nits, you just can't win the uniformity battle.

Samsung's QN91A and up are the best models which balance this. Yes, they crush detail, but they do this to try and keep blacks black.

I own a H9G and U8G (American models) and they are not perfect with uniformity like you'd expect from that test pattern. Of course in SDR when you can turn the backlight really low even the cheapest of TVs is fine. Now its HDR that separates the best from the worst.
 

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