LG OLED65B8PUA and OLED55B8PUA Review
4K, UHD, OLED TV, HDR
by Jack Burden, Senior Editor
The primary difference between the B8 series and the C8 series above it in the LG OLED lineup is the a7 processor in the B8 compared to the newer, upgraded A9 (a stands for alpha) intelligent processor in the C8. The latter improves depth, color, processing of various input signals – a needed upgrade in OLED TVs as we have made mention for years. Aside from that the two are similar with the new thinQ AI hub for all things smart TV (and smart home) as well as Google Assistant. The best OLEDs still top the best LED TVs in picture quality as well as price although the very best, top of the line 4K full local dimming LED models can come close to matching these new OLED TVs, especially in a bright room. The black levels of the B8 are perfect, and color information just pops off the screen. LG's new 4K line of OLED TVs won our Best of CES 2018 award for the third year in a row for best picture in the market.
Advancements over last years B7 model are better processing which helps with clarity of images. Voice control is further enhanced to include Google Assistant. And more compatibility with various HDR specs like HDR10 and HLG. While Dolby Atmos sound is not new, it's still welcomed.
- Super rich colors, excellent with HDR content. Supports high dynamic range (HDR) formats including Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, and HLG
- Amazing blacks, Perfect or limitless contrast
- Perfect side angle viewing quality
- Magic remote controlling Smart TV with Google Assistant
- 40W audio output from speakers (negates the absolute need for a sound bar in a small room)
- ThinQ makes the best Smart TV operation even better
- Bright Room performance surprisingly good
- Has discreet settings for HDR and standard format
- Picture Artifacts less visible due to better A9 processor
- Slight glare on screen especially when displaying darker images
- Image retention is possible, especially for gamers with static images
- Gaming Input Lag
Picture Quality Rating: 96/100
The Basics of Why OLED technology is better than LED/LCD TV in Picture Quality?
If I had to answer this question in a word: Contrast.
A bit of engineering design speak first:
First and foremost OLED TVs do not contain the “twisting” crystals found in all LCD based TVs (including LED TVs). Instead of producing color information by way light passing through these prisms of crystal glass as they turn at incredible speeds, color information in OLED TVs is produced from organic carbon based compounds, which emit green, blue and red lights in response to electric current. This is actually more akin to the way plasma TV phosphors work than the twisting crystals in an LCD. There are no additional light sources necessary to energize the organic color compounds than this small electric charge. Interestingly, a small part of OLED TV technology is taken from the CRT TV. OLED TVs have a cathode layer to provide the mentioned electric charge to the pixels.
Back to picture quality. Due to the backlight used to illuminate images on an LCD TV, there is less flexibility in producing black or very dark scenes. There must always be a flowthrough process from the backlight, through the LCD. There are various ways LCD panel manufacturers attempt to accomplish deep black levels but let's suffice it to say that they all fall well short of the effortless and perfect black levels of OLED TVs. All the OLED has to do to present perfect black is cut the power to any individual pixels. Since there are over 8M pixels in the new 4K OLED models, you can well understand how vast the contrast ratio is even in small individual areas of the screen. Illuminated colors pop much more off of this platform, making them look more vivid and alive even when properly calibrated. While there are some slight advantages of LED backlit LCD TVs in potential brightness, peak whites, and video processing, these are easily eclipsed by the contrast, color and black presentation of OLED TVs.
While there are some slight advantages of LED backlit LCD TVs in potential brightness, peak whites, and video processing, these are easily eclipsed by the contrast, color and black presentation of OLED TVs.
See our complete discussion on OLED vs. 4K.
Picture Depth is top notch along with many picture quality features
Black Levels and Color
When you view an B8 next to a 4K LED TV, the first thing you notice is the immense and infinite 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 of an OLED. 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 (and turn down the backlight setting). As mentioned above, 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 entering into a discussion about the maneuvers like Quantum Dot/ Nanocrystal/QLED 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 B8 has incredible deep pitch blacks and the best looking colors you have ever seen in terms of brilliance, depth, saturation, and contrast. There is just something, “better than this world” about the colors on this OLED TV. Color's are extremely accurate both before and after calibrating.
Side Angle Viewing/Picture on Glass Feature
Another area we always highlight is off center viewing contrast and color saturation. With OLED and the B8 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. On the B8, LG went a step further and applied the pixel directly to the back of the glass panel so there is even less layers between you and the color. This nuance also shows itself when viewing the stunning color of HDR (more on that below.) Let's just say that side angle viewing is perfect no matter your viewing angle. The light comes from the panel itself, not a backlight.
HDR Looks Great on the LG OLED
The big focus TV feature for 2018/2019 and beyond is HDR (High Dynamic Range). HDR extends the range that a pixel in an LCD or OLED TV can show. This applies to the brightness and luminosity of images. Contrast is enhanced by increased brightness rather than deeper blacks. Rather than just increase the brightness of the picture overall though, the real purpose of HDR is to increase contrast in various image areas of the picture. It improves the presentation in the brighter parts of the picture and this creates more contrast with surrounding darker parts of the picture. Since picture contrast is one of the primary features in improving perceived depth, HDR is considered a major picture quality improvement even though it may not increase the overall contrast of the panel a lot. This works beautifully with LG's OLED TVs due to their limitless contrast. All HDR content looks superb on the TV. Bright colors receive enhanced purity. A good HDR image will show better shadow detail, and the scenes that you will notice the most are those with light illuminating images, especially outside sunlight effects or a room that has sunlight coming in through a window and illuminating parts of the room. HDR content is and will be in short supply for a while.
Though there is little HDR content available, we have viewed some of Amazons. It can appear over-saturated at first, but it's certainly brighter and more colorful. I like it, and it's getting better and better. Some purists may not.
Video Processing/Up Conversion to 4K Clarity and Definition
Video processing and conversion is one of the drawbacks to picture quality, but much less so with the new A9 processor. There was a real need here and indeed it does improve clarity and decrease those annoying picture artifacts that we used to be so familiar with in the early days of plasma TVs. This is the one clear advantage to LED/LCD TVs in my mind; the best ones do smooth out images better than OLED TVs. While video processing has not been LG's strength they've improved a ton with this OLED TV version. It must be more difficult for the OLED technology to process images more similar to plasma TVs in this regard. 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 give the B8 up-scaling performance a B+. We note the introduction of more artifacts in lower end signals 720p, 480p, 480i. With 1080p picture noise cleared up but was still noticeable.
A shot from the House of Cards on Netflix in 4K
Quick Picture Settings
Picture Mode: Expert Dark Room
OLED Light: 46 (Adjust to increase and decrease TV brightness for various room light conditions)
Energy Saving: Off
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Color Gamut: Normal
Edge Enhancer: Off
Color Filter: Off
White Balance: Warm 2 (If the picture is slightly too warm(red) for you try Warm)
Features Rating: 92/100
Design and Appearance
The B8 looks super sharp from side angles with that pencil thin look at the top. You immediately think, “man that is an expensive looking TV!” If you dont wall mount it, the TV sits nice and low on the accompanying stand and looks like one unit rather than stand and TV. It's a great looking TV with a minimalist design as it should be. 1.8” depth.
Note on Image Retention: There is a "pixel refresher" and a new "Logo Luminescence Adjustment" feature to control IR on the C8, two features there to help just in case. As long as you are careful, you will likely not notice any image retention issues.
AI ThinQ WebOS Smart TV Features
AI thinQ is the hub for your connected devices. The primary improvements over last years excellent WebOS 3.5 are the inclusion of Google Assistant in facilitating a far greater range of options in voice control. Also, what we found interesting was the ability to connect our mobile devices to the TV and view content on the TV, especially pictures or videos. There are “hot” buttons for connecting directly to Netflix and Amazon with a press of a button. Boot up times are faster, and this is either the best or one of the best Smart TV systems out there now in terms of speed, and user interface. The interface layout is straightforward and intuitive and makes sorting your favorite programs very easy with the point and click operation of the new LG Magic Remote (we love the Remote). The ability of the user to order and place the various Apps that matter most is a considerable strength over competing systems. Overall, WebOS provides a smooth, and very enjoyable experience. The one knock is that Samsung's Tizen and Roku do offer more Apps selection, although LG will have nearly all of the major Apps that are considered important.
WebOS 3.5 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 to name a few.
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.
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. The B8P models both have 40W output and has impressive sound that will suffice in smaller rooms.
The B8 delivered a good performance of 29ms input lag when in Game mode. This will definitely render a good gaming experience, but is not as fast as the Samsung or Vizio TVs for gaming. There is a new HDR Mode for HDR gaming which looks great.
Future Proofing Considerations
Naturally if you are going to spend the money on an OLED TV you want to know that it is future-proofed. We've got HDR and 4K to consider and who knows what new technology down the road. The E8P support the latest and greatest HDR10 as well as Dolby Vision and Technicolor HDR and HLG. It's good to be versatile as you never know which technology will get adopted.
Value Rating: 86/100
OLED55B8P - $1999 (anticipated average pricing $2699)
OLED65B8P - $2499 (anticipated average pricing $3699)
Prices of OLED TVs keep getting better. For a comparable LED you probably shell out about $500 less. Is it worth the difference? For many the answer is yes! Value is not the strong suit of this premium TV. The picture is incredible, and my favorite in the market so if you can afford it...go for it.
Overall Rating: 93/100
- Perfect Black Panel
- Google Home Compatible
- Dolby Vision
- ThinQ AI
- Google Assistant
- iPhone and Android device connection and control – Yes (Magic Mobile Connection)
- 2160p Resolution (4K)
- A9 Processor
- Tru-4K Upscaler
- UHD File Playback (HEVC and VP9 decoder compatible)
- HDMI 4 inputs (2.0 compatible)
- 3D Passive 2 Glasses included (with C6P, not 3D with B6P)
- HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
- Dolby Atmos
- USB 3 inputs
- Optical Digital Output
- Wireless Dual band,
- Dual Band Wireless supports the Wireless Lan (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) standard
- 55B8 without stand 57.2" x 32.8" x 1.8"
- 65B8 with stand 57.2" x 34.4" x 8.5"
- 55B8 without stand 48.3" x 27.8" x 1.8”
- 55B8 with stand 48.3" x 29.8" x 9.1"
- Speakers: 20W X 2 (40W total)
- Warranty 1 Year parts and labor
|Jack Burden joined the review staff of CEAG Inc. in May 2003 after finishing his graduate work at Harvard University. He has been reporting on consumer electronics and conducting product reviews for more than seven years. Focusing on the audio-visual segment of the electronics market... Read more about Jack|