LG 55EF9500 (55EF950V) Review
4K, UHD, OLED TV
by Jack Burden, Reviewer
These are our favorite quality category TVs for the year. OLED TV is the technology of the future but with the EF9500 its here and available now, even in 4K UHD resolution. Only Sony and Samsung's very best, top of the line 4K full local dimming models can come close to matching OLED TVs. LG's new 4K line of OLED TVs won our Best of CES 2015 awards for best picture in the market.
Contrast is just about as good as it gets in this image
The EF9500 series forgoes a few of the most costly “twists” like a curved panel, but it does have a full raft of features as listed below.
Black Levels and Color
When you view an EF9500 next to a 4K LED TV, the first thing you notice is the immense and indefinite black levels of the OLED TV. Yes, 4K LED TVs can still pump out a brighter picture due to amped up LED backlights, but it's no comparison in depth of blacks. Now for review, you videophiles know that brighter LED backlights in the store can look great, but get it home in a lamp-lit room and you start to see all the flaws. You also remember that deeper black levels create colors that pop more and more contrast on the screen. Essentially to make my point simple, black levels win out over brightness in picture quality performance importance. OLED TV wins out easily against 4K LED in this very important category.
Here is a prime example of the amazing colors seen on LG's OLED TVs
I'm not going to go into the tricks like Quantum Dot/ Nanocrystal layers that 4K manufacturers are employing to try to equal OLED in color performance. Instead, just know that they are doing everything possible to try to compete with OLED in performance, which means OLED is better right? Yes, that's right. The EF9500 has incredible deep pitch blacks and the best looking colors you have ever seen in terms of brilliance, depth, saturation, and contrast.
Side Angle Viewing
Another area we always highlight is off center viewing contrast. With OLED and the EF9500 it's perfect just like it was with good plasma TVs, because every pixel is lit organically (and with an electrode) so there is no backlight. The backlight is the problem with LED TVs. Anyway, let's just say that side angle viewing is perfect not matter your angle and leave it at that.
Up Conversion to 4K Clarity and Definition
As you probably know, the 4K UHD resolution does not do you any good if you cannot enjoy the higher resolution. Therefore, up-scaling 1080p, and 720p and lower resolutions becomes probably the most important point in purchasing a 4K UHD TV due to the dearth of original 4K content. We do not see the content situation getting rapidly better either. However, LG has put some effort into up scaling with the new “Tru-4K Upscaler” which uses an algorithm to smooth the transition from lower resolutions to the native 4K(p) resolution of the panel. We give the EF9500 up-scaling performance a solid B. We note a loss of clarity and definition especially in standard def programming but also in 720p. With 1080p the up scaling was noticeably better. Overall, we do see a good bit more definition and clarity with the EF9500 than with a1080p LED TV or with LG's 1080p OLED TV from last year. So there is a solid benefit to the 4K panel aside from just future-proofing.
Response Time Speed
Did you notice that these OLED TVs do not have a Hz rate spec like 120Hz panel or “MotionPlus” or “Clear Motion Rate” or and other response time related technology spec? That's because OLED TVs (like Plasma) do not have a backlight and LCD Panel and as a result have extremely fast response times. LG lists the critical response time (the screens ability to refresh the image on screen) at an incredible 1 microsecond. There is little to no blur with fast action on the screen.
Design and Appearance
The design of the EF9500 is called “floating flat” for the flat rather than curved screen and the clear plexi stand mount. It's very attractive and the panel itself is beautiful with a minimal frame and extra thin depth except for the bottom cavity which houses boards and speakers. I like a flat screen better myself. It's sleeker against the wall, plus there is no distortion from the curve.
WebOS 2.0 Smart TV Features
After taking flack from us and others two years ago, LG has put some effort into speeding Smart TV function with the first WebOS and now WebOS 2.0. Boot up times are faster, though not as fast as the new Android TV platform. The interface layout is simpler and more intuitive and makes sorting your favorite programs very easy with the point and click operation of the new LG Magic Remote (we love the Magic Remote).
WebOS 2.0 makes it very easy to choose your apps without leaving what you are currently watching
Smart TV options are Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, HSN, Showtime, Drama Fever, iHeart Radio, and newly DirecTV, and GoPro. The GoPro Channel App is only available to LG webOS and allows LG TV owners to stream GoPro videos on-demand. The channel anticipates adding 4K content soon.
The one I like for you cable-cutters out there is Sling TV, which for a monthly fee ($20) gets the all important ESPN and ESPN 2 taken care of. It also gives you the addictive and entertaining Food Network.
IheartRadio is an digital audio service which allows streaming of live radio stations.
We are still big fans of the LG Magic Remote for speed and ease. The point and click operation is excellent and efficient.
LG puts good focus on sound quality and realized that not everyone is going to go out and get a sound bar or surround sound system. With the EF9500 they've passed the responsibility to Harman Kardon.
Excellent 3D quality using 4K resolution and and OLED panel sets the new standard for performance.
Value is the big question with these new 4K OLED TVs. LG has a slew of new 4K LED backlit LCD TVs for the year which keeps the prices of these highly desirable OLED TVs high.
- 4 Color Pixel WRGB (white subpixel added)
(A note about our reviews. Our professional reviewers begin our reviews with our initial impressions about quality of picture and features inclusion, then we add specifications, then value and pricing information, and finally strengths and weaknesses and ratings. When our reviews contain an overall rating, you know they are complete. Thank you for reading!)
|Jack Burden has been reviewing and writing reviews in the consumer electronics category for 7 years with CEAG. He considers grayscale gradation, film patterned retarders, and focus field drives to be fun topics. Read more about Jack|