The LG 65EF9800 "Artwall" (or "Art Slim," or "Art Slim Unibody") OLED TV is the holy grail for picture quality enthusiasts who have been holding out for a flat (as in, non-curved) LG OLED.
It's also poised as a unique audio innovation, as it includes a handsome external soundbar engineered by harmon/kardon. The EF9800's panel is so slim that there's simply no room inside for speakers, so LG packaged them separately.
Naturally, the new OLED option also runs LG's new-and-improved webOS 2.0 smart platform.
And the picture quality? The EF9800 is a 4K OLED, which means it boasts the same awesome picture quality as our current #1 TV, the LG 65EC9700. We expect great performance from this TV, and fully expect it to become a go-to home theater choice for serious A/V enthusiasts.
Exactly what we expected; exactly what we wanted.
If there's one thing that consumers need to know about OLED TVs, it's that's they look incredible. It's really that simple.
All of the basics of great picture quality are met—and thoroughly exceeded—by this fledgling tech, to the degree that differentiating in quality between two OLED TVs is like finding a needle in a haystack.
That said, the EF9800 enjoys real (if subtle) image quality advantages over its curved cousins, simply because it's flat. For one thing, we've found that while curved displays look great, they can sometimes multiply distracting ambient light reflections.
Thanks to its flat design, the EF9800 is capable of better light effusion, and less likely to compound the presence of ambient light. It's still somewhat reflective, but not as much as LG's other OLED TVs, thanks (in part) to what we think is an anti-glare coating applied to the screen.
I know what you're thinking: It's less reflective? It has better light effusion? Who gives a care? But that's kind of my point—OLED TVs have so little to improve on in terms of image quality that this is one of the only advantages I can identify.
So the EF9800 looks just as incredible as as our #1 rated television, but that doesn't mean it's entirely free of flaws. There are issues endemic to current 4K OLED displays that are impossible to see on a tech show floor. One is an issue with proper "gamma," or how smoothly the TV transitions from black/shadow tones through midtone and highlight details.
Another is a function called Auto Brightness Limiting (ABL), which dims the picture as the on-screen content gets brighter. Not only is this distracting, it can mean your OLED set ends up looking too dim for very bright rooms.
If this sounds familiar, reminiscent of complaints leveled against plasma displays, it's because these technologies function in basically the same fashion. Both plasma (RIP) and OLED TVs are "emissive" displays, and suffer from some of the same drawbacks.
It's probably safe to suggest that, like other OLEDs, the EF9800 will look best in a dim or entirely dark room—but so does most film and movie content, so take that as you will. There's a reason why OLED is the new standard for cinephiles.
The only caveats here are that we still haven't seen any non-proprietary footage, observed the TV in a controlled environment, analyzed anything with fast motion, or witnessed how it handles upscaling. Those are pretty big what-ifs, but you can rest assured that the basics of core performance—contrast, color, light output—are clearly well in-hand, and the EF9800 looks great at first glance.
The Looks & Experience
Surprisingly elegant for a TV with such a powerful picture
The 65-inch EF9800 is LG's first flat, premium 4K OLED, and as such it has a couple of design eccentricities. But fear not, gentle reader: You can easily cast them aside to keep things nice and simple.
The EF9800 is all screen—literally. The included harmon/kardon speaker can be attached to the stand, but it also connects wirelessly to the TV, making it easy to mount the EF9800 onto a wall and integrate into your own audio system. This is great news for home theater enthusiasts.
We haven't had the chance to demo the TV's software or smart features yet, but we do know that the EF9800 will ship with LG's new webOS 2.0 smart platform. The first generation of webOS was a huge hit with TV geeks and casual viewers alike when it hit last year, and we're certain that webOS 2.0 will continue the tradition of a fluid, attractive, and easy-to-learn UI.
Doubtless, the EF9800 will still be paired with some iteration of LG's Magic Remote, and feature a premium panoply of connectivity options. Naturally, its HDMI inputs will be 4K @ 60 Hz capable, and also be HEVC/H.265/VP9 capable.
Sliced bread, meet flat OLED.
For at least the last year, we've been well aware of how awesome OLED TVs look. When LG first introduced its line of 4K OLEDs—including the class-leading EC9700—we were blown away by their proximity to picture quality perfection.
Deep down, however, I harbored a secret wish: I wanted the same thing, but without that extraneous curve. The 65EF9800 scratches that itch, delivering the same great 4K resolution and awesome OLED image in a flat form factor.
Whether or not the wireless speaker stand is any good is almost irrelevant—we have no idea what the EF9800 will cost, but if you can afford it, you can probably also afford your own external audio solution.
LG has yet to confirm the availability of the EF9800, but keep checking back here: We're often first to get LG's OLED TVs into the lab, and when this one arrives we'll be making a serious ruckus.