LG 65EC9700 4K OLED TV Review
With 4K resolution and OLED quality, LG has raised the bar to incredible new heights.
Behind The Screens
The LG 65EC9700 (MSRP $11,999.99) is the first of its kind: a beautiful OLED TV equipped with 4K (UHD) resolution. We've been privy to the amazing contrast and color purity of OLED TVs for the last year, but seeing such image fidelity rendered in 4K is truly a sight to behold. Not only does the EC9700 look just as awesome as previous OLEDs, it makes subtle improvements to things only the most staunch cinephiles would even complain about—a real tip of the hat from LG.
From black level to motion, viewing angle, and color production, the EC9700 earns blue ribbons in almost every major performance category. The only place it compares unfavorably to competing LCDs is in terms of luminance falloff. Like a plasma, the EC9700 grows dimmer as more of the screen is filled with light, and grows brighter as light becomes more scarce. The EC9700 is just a little less bright than previous OLEDs, however, which helps lessen the perceptibility of this falloff, and reduces the longevity of image retention.
As I discussed on the front page, I was unable to calibrate this TV due to the way the on-screen software alters the TV's light and color production subtly. It makes it impossible to do things like correct the white balance or even out discrepancies in color production. Fortunately, the EC9700 doesn't really need any calibration—give it 40 or so hours to break in, and it presents an almost perfectly tuned picture all on its own.
Note that the following results were obtained after 48+ hours of use with the OLED Light and Contrast settings set to maximum levels.
Just like with the other OLED TVs we've reviewed, the 65EC9700 is a stellar performer in terms of contrast. A TV's contrast ratio is determined by dividing its reference white (100 IRE) luminance by its black level (0 IRE). Since OLED pixels turn off when they're not in use, OLED black levels are effectively zero. For the sake of scoring and comparison purposes, however, I've again estimated a black level of 0.001 cd/m2, the equivalent of a glowing power indicator in the same room as the TV.
The EC9700 tested with less overall luminance than LG's previous OLEDs, the EA9800 and EA8800, though still plenty enough for normal lighting. I measured a reference white of 149.90 cd/m2, though this dropped to ~ 50 cd/m2 during full-field white patterns, but jumped up close to 225 cd/m2 for very small percentages, or for grayscale elements above 100 IRE. Overall, the EC9700's estimated contrast ratio is about 150,000:1, which is simply an unbeatable amount of black/white differentiation, and makes for an extremely pleasing, realistic picture.
Viewing angle is another area where OLED TVs excel by an unprecedented amount. Our viewing angle test measures how far from head-on (center) you can view the screen and still see a high-quality image. Like previous OLEDs, the EC9700 measured with a perfect viewing angle—178° total, or ±89° from the center to either side of the screen. Other than discrepancies introduced by the curve of the screen, you can essentially get quality viewing even at nigh perpendicular viewing angles.
The EC9700 tested with some of the best color production we've seen all year, which is especially impressive considering that OLED is such a new technology. We measure the x/y coordinates of a TV's red, blue, green, and white production against the Rec. 709 standard, allowing for some flexibility in terms of red/green oversaturation. The EC9700's color production is essentially perfect—red and green are a little more saturated than is required by the HDTV standards, but the additional color only adds to the TV's bright, vivid appearance.
This is especially impressive considering it's the default color in ISF Expert 1 mode. Seeing such an accurate white point out of the box (not to mention such accurate secondary colors) is almost non-existent within the realm of LCD TVs.
Grayscale & RGB Balance
Because televisions use an additive color scheme (adding red, green, and blue) to create grayscale (neutral) tones like white and gray, they often struggle to achieve a perfect white balance. Ideally, TVs produce grayscale elements at x = 0.313, y = 0.329, which correlates to a color temperature of 6500 Kelvin. When a TV's primary colors are not emphasized properly, it can cause colored tinting within steps along the grayscale. This is a big issue with uncalibrated LCD TVs, but the EC9700's grayscale production is perceptibly perfect (after about 40 hours of break-in time). I measured a grayscale DeltaE (collective error) of 0.88, where 3 or less is considered ideal.
To get a better idea of where perceptible error comes from—and also how well a TV renders gradations of color and transitions between darker/lighter hues—we also analyze the underlying RGB balance within the grayscale, from 10 to 100 IRE. As you might expect, the EC9700's RGB emphasis is very well balanced, with no over- or under-emphasis more than a few percentages away from perfect. This is very difficult for TVs to achieve, and is yet another impressive result.
Gamma, which refers to the progression of midtone luminance out of black and into peak white, is one area where OLED devices—TVs, smartphones, and tablets—have traditionally struggled. This is yet another area where the EC9700 improves upon past OLED TVs. Ideal gamma curves for TVs are 2.2, 2.3, or 2.4, depending on the amount of light in the room.
While the EC9700 tested with a gamma curve of 2.17, it's a much flatter, more consistent gamma than we've seen on previous OLED TVs, with less extreme jumps in luminance from step to step. This isn't a perfect result, but it's still a huge improvement compared to OLEDs we've tested in the past.
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