Here at Highpants HQ televisions are one of the many windows to the digital world, let’s just say we see a lot of flat panels in the course of a day. In the spirit of improving the fidelity of information we view it was time for an upgrade. So with the old 55-inch LCD TV looking a little long in the tooth we set out to find the best damn TV money could buy, without requiring a mortgage of course.
To OLED or to not OLED, that is the question?
Undoubtedly at the top end of the LCD market the panels do provide a spectacular picture but the OLED panels we’ve seen seem just a bit better. The differences it seems boil down to the pixels. Pixels on an LCD need a backlight to provide illumination, the LCD really just provides colour. This makes it hard to create a perfect black, light leaks between pixels and sometimes forms a noticeable border around them. OLED pixels are self-illuminating, no backlight required, which eliminates all of the backlight problems of LCD panels while providing many other benefits.
The colour and framerate that the OLED pixels provide is off the charts. 1 billion colours, equivalent to 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio (LG say unlimited) and .002ms frame rate really doesn’t do it justice. Really high quality video appears to have the depth of a 3D movie. You get the impression that you can reach out and touch what is being displayed. I’ve had to duck a couple of times as shrapnel flew off my car straight at me, in DriveClub.
Perfect Black is a big selling point for OLED panels but once you see a panel it’s actually the purity of the whites that’s most noticeable, especially when you see an LCD next to the OLED. I wonder if the perfect black and white might be partially responsible for making the colours appear so vivid, that’s just a guess.
As for a decision? Having looked into the numbers, after walking many miles to see panels in action, and with recent price drops (below $3,400 AUD for a 55) OLED seemed to be the way to go. In Australia this made the choice of model simple, as far as 55-inch 4K OLED’s go LG is the only show in town. The LG 55B6T 4K television being the model of choice. While hunting around I did discover a cheaper 1080p OLED variant that wasn’t much more expensive than an LCD but had the OLED pop, very tempting. The only question left now is will it live up to the numbers in real life?
Out of the box the LG 55B6T is as compact as a 55-inch TV can be. The wafer thin borders all the way around mean this TV looks amazing turned off, and absolutely spectacular when on. Although it does make the TV seem smaller than other 55’s, believe me I measured it and it is a 55 but it just seems so much smaller than the old LCD it’s replacing.
LG haven’t been overly generous with inputs, 2 back HDMI and 2 side HDMI along with the standard antenna, network, USB and optical. Given it is hard to find places for ports when most of the TV is only 9mm thick we’ll forgive them.
Being a Smart TV there is a setup procedure to go through. On the LG this was fairly painless with channel tuning and network setup taking a couple of minutes. The Harmon-Karden speakers surprised from the outset by producing a good quality low volume output but they still get turned down when more noise is required.
Getting the TV to play nice with the PlayStation 4 Pro was a little bit of an effort but well worth it, it is a combination made in gamer heaven. Out of all the gadgets hooked up to the TV only the PS4 Pro had any issues.
LG provide the Magic Remote with their smart TV’s. Using Wii like motion sensors the remote can track movement to drive a pointer on the TV. A nice gimmick but we quickly switched back to using the remotes physical buttons which are far quicker to use. Thankfully the remote is well laid out with all of the most important buttons (Input, up/down, Channel, Volume) located around the centre of the remote, within quick thumb reach.
The general LG interface is pretty simple and quick to learn. Out of the box streaming options such as Netflix, Stan and a dozen other services are included. Even advanced features such as record and playback from USB or network media (DLNA) are included out of the box. If there is anything missing from the feature list you can add it using the LG app store which has simple games to play and apps available for free. The built in web browser is also surprisingly good and managed to load most pages we pointed it at, yup Highpants too.
We have thrown many types of media at the TV and so far found the quality of the content tends to be more important than the absolute resolution. We’ve seen exceptionally good 1080p content look better than poor quality 4K, but high quality 4K content is a whole other story of wow. We also threw a lot of low quality web video at the TV and while it won’t remove noise the colours, blacks and whites still look noticeably better than the old LCD. So far the best quality video has come from Netflix using a premium account, but make sure you have plenty of bandwidth.
Here at Highpants we aren’t exaggerating in saying that this is the best TV on the market at the moment, and by a long shot. This will change early 2017 when Samsung, Philips, Sony and others release their take on OLED but for now this thing is the bomb. There are however two potential downsides; a 50,000-hour lifespan and the picture is so damn good you may never get off the couch again! The only regret we’ve had so far is that we didn’t get the 65-inch model, seriously it was the first thought I had after unpacking it, although the 65 was ridiculous money even for Highpants.
Rating: 9/10 (Only let down by the PlayStation 4 incident)
|Screen Type (OLED/LED)||OLED|
|Screen size (Inch/cm)||55″ (138cm)|
|Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|Field Refresh Rate (Hz)||N/A|
|HDR – High Dynamic Range||Yes|
|Wide Colour Gamut||Yes|
|Local Dimming||Yes (Pixel)|
|Colour Bit Depth||10-bit (Native)|
|Dynamic Colour Enhancer||Yes|
|Picture Modes||11 (Vivid, Standard, APS, Cinema, Soccer/Cricket, Game, Photo, HDR Effect, Dolby Vision, ISF Bright Room, ISF Dark Room)|
|Tuner||MPEG-2/4 DVB-T2 (Single)|
|Resolution Upscaling||Yes (6-Step)|
|HDMI 2.0a||Yes (4)|
|USB 3.0 Input||Yes (1)|
|USB 2.0 Input||Yes (2)|
|RF Antenna Input||Yes (1)|
|Component/Composite Input||Yes (Phone Jack Type – Shared Audio)|
|Headphone (3.5mm) Output||Yes (1)|
|Digital (Optical) Audio Output||Yes (1)|
|LAN Port||Yes (1)|