THE first 4K OLED television has arrived and there’s something you should know about: it’s so black, it is positively gothic.
This TV delivers the kind of black that makes you wonder if the screen is on at all.
It’s the kind of black that makes you want to watch movies about space exclusively.
It’s the kind of black that makes other TVs look navy by comparison.
This is because OLED televisions, or organic light-emitting diode TVs, handle backlighting differently to LCD televisions.
Most modern LCD screens are lit with rows of light-emitting diodes. This can lead to light leakage and can deliver shades of black but not pure black. On some TVs, for example, the deep reaches of space look as black as an often washed, sunburnt T-shirt.
In OLED televisions, however, the organic material used in the screen is self-lighting and turns on when electricity passes through it. The material can just as easily be turned off completely when electricity is removed, creating a perfect black indistinguishable from night.
The colour in LG’s 65-inch 4K OLED television is also noticeably bolder and offers much greater contrast, helped by the addition of a white pixel for balance.
The result is a screen that instantly stands out from LCD models. Though its advantages are not as obvious beside Quantum Dot TVs delivered this year, debate over which TV technology is superior feels moot when you stand before this OLED screen.
The arrival of this 4K model has been a long time coming for Australian TV aficionados, but those who held out for its arrival can rightly feel smug for two reasons.
Firstly, having four times the pixels makes a big difference on a 65-inch screen and, secondly, LG has significantly improved the upscaling in this television to make the most of content that is not ultra HD-ready.
When native 4K footage is pumped into this television — most likely from Netflix — it shows. Fine details are stunning, from the wrinkles on an actor’s face to the grain of leather chairs in the background.
Pull back to full high-definition and the picture is not quite as crisp, of course, but LG’s six-level upscaler works hard to make it look better than it ordinarily would.
Watch Casino Royale on Blu-ray Disc, for example, and you can still count the hairs on Daniel Craig’s chest.
A word of caution for users, however: this TV only looks as good as the picture mode you select for it.
Films are best viewed in Cinema mode, which is pleasing to the eye even though it delivers a slightly yellow tone. A dedicated Soccer mode ups the contrast significantly, though it also increases grain. Vivid ups the colour delivery again, and Standard mode gives you a whiter hue and brightness boost designed for brightly lit rooms.
Selecting these modes is easy — two button presses deliver quick access to the menu — but users will need to consider them to ensure a good picture.
Consideration should also be paid to another two picture settings hidden deeper in this TV’s menus. Users should experiment with this TV’s TruMotion and Noise Reduction modes to ensure the picture mode suits its content.
Turning down this TV’s TruMotion feature, which attempts to ‘smooth’ fast-moving footage, provided better on-screen results in our tests. It’s a matter of choice but worth noting to avoid disappointment.
In addition to screen, the exterior of this TV has also been enhanced.
Its unusual stand includes a thick piece of transparent plastic that gives it the impression of floating above a TV cabinet. Its bezel is black but, strangely, its rear panel is white — a feature usually reserved for old-style computer monitors. LG says it makes the television look better against a white wall.
The speakers in this TV were designed by Harmon Kardon and fire downwards. They’re certainly adequate but a TV of this calibre deserves better and buyers should be prepared to invest slightly more for speakers.
The TV’s connections include three HDMI ports for content, three USB ports and, of course, wi-fi connectivity to power its WebOS 2.0 smart menu and apps including Netflix, YouTube and ABC iView. It also comes with an LG Magic Remote that adds a motion-sensitive cursor to the screen, making it easy to navigate smart features and switch settings.
Both this 4K OLED television, and its 55-inch brother, are only available in a curved format, which may not suit all users. The 4K versions have a more subtle curve to them, however, and OLED delivers clear pictures even from severe side angles.
It’s also worth noting this TV doesn’t support the High Dynamic Range 4K content that offers greater colour detail, and a coming software update will not upgrade its HDMI ports to accept HDR 4K Blu-ray content.
Users should also take care not to display one image on this OLED screen for an extended period of time, as LG warns OLED screens can be more prone to burn-in than their LCD counterparts.
And then there’s the price. While not something many people would buy on a whim, this 65-inch TV’s price tag is surprisingly reasonable compared to other high-end televisions.
Buyers will need to delve into the settings to get the most of this television, but it will be worth it. OLED technology has clear advantages over its LCD forebear, and LG’s 4K OLED television is an excellent example of it.
Simply put, it’s currently the best television money can buy.
4.5 out of 5 stars