LG has finally taken the iron to its OLED TVs. The panel technology has up until now been exclusive to a handful of curved screens, and the 65EF950V is the world’s first flat 4K OLED (alongside the £2500 55in version).
As a caveat of curved tellies is their less-than-ideal viewing angles, the news of the EF950V range should not only please general curve-haters but those who regularly miss out on the centre seat of the sofa too.
It’s also one of LG’s newest, priciest TVs – and makes a strong case for being the king of OLEDs (so far).
Like some of Samsung’s SUHD line-up, the LG 65EF950V (alongside its 55in sibling and the 55EG9200) claims to support HDR (High Dynamic Range). While 4K is purely about resolution – how many pixels make up the picture – HDR deals with how dark and bright those pixels can go, promising whiter whites, darker blacks and more variation in the colours in between.
Official standards for HDR aren’t yet set in stone, but Amazon has chosen to support the HDR 10 version in its Instant Video streaming service. LG supports this and is hoping that Netflix adheres to the same one too).
What this means is that when you watch a show in HDR on Amazon – Bosch or Transparent, for example – the TV will detect the format and play it. A notification pops up on-screen so you don’t even have to press any buttons to active it.
All of the 65EF950V’s three HDMI inputs meet the latest 2.0a HDMI specification, which allows HDR support for external sources such as forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray players and discs.
We roll with the pilot of Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon Instant Video (in HDR). The opening sequence is a concert, and we’re impressed with how black suits in the orchestration don’t all look one tone.
At one point we can count over five in one frame, and you can see where light hits certain areas. We like how diamond earrings sparkle in different intensities and that stage lights show variation in intensity.
Something to bear in mind: the LG automatically enters a special HDR picture mode when it detects that content, which can be toyed with – just not during viewing.
It may be tempting to jump straight into your current boxset, but taking time to tweak picture settings across your content sources is hugely rewarding. Toning down brightness is advised, as is bumping up motion settings or activating ‘smooth’ processing for a cleaner, more stable picture.
What you should be left with is a stonkingly crisp, smooth and squeaky-clean picture that harmonises a pleasant richness with convincing realism and subtlety.
When required, blacks are very black indeed, so when a room’s lights are out and the TV screen goes black, you’re left sitting in pitch blackness. OLEDs don’t have a backlight consistently shining through the panel as LCD sets do, after all.
Whites are appropriately vivid with pleasing variation. Needless to say, it’s two thumbs up for contrast.
Its colour reproduction deserves kudos too. Load up Mad Max: Fury Road on Blu-ray and the film’s splashy, saturated colours pop on the LG’s screen, looking truly inviting and, more importantly, a great deal more accurate and subtle than through the 65EC970V. Dirt and paint on faces and damage to cars is profound, and textures of rocks, sand and machinery are realised.
Skin tones are natural, and motion is nicely done car chase after car chase.
Although a HD Netflix stream of Scream loses a little crispness compared to Blu-ray playback (as to be expected), the LG sticks to its informative guns and provides a perfectly good watch… providing you don’t mind masked killers and buckets of blood.
While the LG upscales DVDs well enough for you to keep your collection at arm’s length, SD channels are worth avoiding where possible. Like with nearly all big 4K TVs, the picture looks a tad too soft and blurry compared to higher resolution. With HD channels it’s much better.
It’s easy to forget you’re watching 3D through the 65EF950V too, and not just because the supplied passive glasses (there’s two pairs in the box) are so lightweight. The picture is not only stable and poised, but impressively bright and coherent, so even the murky broomstick chase scene in Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Part 1 isn’t consumed by shadows.
You won’t have to neglect your favourite corner armchair either as viewing angles are pretty spot-on. The 65EF950V is nicely uniform, even at quite extreme angles, and that alone is reason enough to applaud LG’s decision to make a flat OLED.
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You’ll buy this TV for its picture rather than its sound, but know that it easily trumps the rather low quality you get from bog-standard flatscreen speakers. At least there’s decent weight here for explosions to go off without distortion and for Tom Hardys’ voice in Mad Max sounding suitably deep and gruff.
As TVs go, we’d imagine that only something like the Sony KD-75X9405C, with its two-panel front-facing speakers, is capable of producing a markedly better sound.
Of course, big screen entertainment deserves big-scale home cinema sound, (so a decent speaker package or a soundbar at the very least) shouldn’t be too far down your Christmas list.
Build and design
While the curvature of LG’s other OLEDs gives them an architectural elegance from a design perspective, the 65EF950V is no less handsome. It looks every bit a premium telly.
Its thin panel (we’re talking 5mm here) is classily finished with a barely-there bezel and metal framing, and is backed with a smooth, shiny white aesthetic.
The highlight? A clear acrylic panel joining the metal stand to the frame gives what LG is calling a floating screen effect. Honestly, it’s lovely. Sit a few metres away from the screen and, true to its moniker, it does actually look like it’s floating in mid air.
Half way down, the panel protrudes only a few extra centimetres to house the power supply and connections as neat as possible. Joining the HDMIs are component and three USB inputs (one is 3.0), as well as an optical output and Ethernet socket.
Of course, wi-fi is also onboard to unlock the TV’s smart delights, of which there a many: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, BBC iPlayer and Demand5, as well as a truckload of apps available to download from the LG Store. ITV Player and All4 are the only absentees, so hopefully you can rely on your set-top box or Blu-ray player for them.
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It wasn’t long ago that the 65EF950V was breaking hearts with its initial £5000 price tag. You don’t need a maths degree to work out that it’s been significantly reduced since.
OLED is already becoming a more accessible technology (LG has already said its entry-level – probably Full HD – model will drop to £1500 around Christmas), although whether it’ll ever become ‘mainstream’ is less certain.
What we do know is that OLEDs are immensely capable in many respects, and that this one could be the finest yet.
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