Can $10,000 get you the perfect TV?

The 65-inch LG 65EC9700 is the first 4K UHD OLED TV, the best hookup since beer met pepperoni pizza

Published: September 11, 2014 12:30 PM
If this 77-inch $25,000 UHD OLED is too pricey, LG also has a $10,000 65-incher.

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With the marriage of OLED and UHD TV technologies, has LG managed to create the best TV ever? That's what we hope to find out next month when LG starts shipping its brand new 65-inch 65EC9700 UHD OLED TV, the industry's first 4K OLED set.

The TV will be available starting next month for $10,000. If your manse simply screams for an even bigger set, you'll have to wait until November when the 77-inch 77EG9700 becomes available for $25,000, or about the same price as two of the 65-inch UHD OLED sets, plus LG's 65-inch 65UN9800 LCD UHD TV thrown in for good measure.

Both sets were unveiled at the CEDIA electronics industry trade show today.  “OLED on its own has already been hailed as the best screen technology on the market," said Tim Alessi, LG's director of new product development, in a statement, adding that the combination of UHD and OLED "is a true game-changer" that will reshape the industry.

Even without the higher-resolution screens, we've been excited about OLED TV technology, which looms as a replacement for plasma for videophiles looking for the absolute best TV picture quality. OLED, which uses an organic material that gives off light when it's hit with an electric current—no separate backlight required—combines some of the best attributes of plasma and LCD sets: plasma's deep blacks, high contrast, and unlimited viewing angles, and the bright images, super-slim designs, and energy efficiency of LCD sets.

Last year we reviewed Samsung's $9,000 KN55S9C, a curved 55-inch 1080p OLED TV that earned high praise, and LG's 55EC9300, a $3,500 curved 1080p OLED TV, is currently in our TV labs for testing. (Stay tuned for our coming First Look.)  When we update our Ratings in a few weeks, LG's 1080p set will be the first OLED TV that's ever been included in our TV Ratings. We expect to get the 65EC9700 UHD OLED into our labs as soon as it becomes available.

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As you'd expect, these TVs—which have curved screens and a frameless, bezel-less “Cinema Screen” design—are loaded with features, including LG's new webOS smart TV platform. For UHD content, the TVs include HDMI 2.0 inputs and built-in HEVC (H.265) decoding, plus LG’s Tru-4K Engine Pro upscaling technology, which upconverts regular HD content to the set's higher-resolution screen. LG says that both the 65- and 77-inch UHD OLED TVs can be wall mounted.

Will these be the best TVs we've ever tested? We hope to find out soon, once we get the 65EC9700 UHD OLED TV into our labs for a complete evaluation. Although we're still in the midst of testing LG's 1080p OLED set, our initial impression is very positive, although we have noticed a few video-processing anomalies that we're investigating further.

As we put the OLEDs through their paces, one other thing we'll be paying attention to is the TV's sound quality. So far all the OLED sets we've seen are very thin; the 65-inch UHD OLED, for example, is only 4.5mm—about 11/16ths of an inch—thick at its thinnest point. That's even thinner than the sleekest LCD we've ever tested, and few of those TVs are able to provide satisfying sound. We're skeptical whether OLED TVs can do any better—and they could possibly be even worse—given the super-thin designs.

Keep checking back for our coming First Looks on the 1080p and UHD OLED TVs, and visit our TV Ratings for the latest test results on more than 250 sets.

—James K. Willcox

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