Anyone who sees an OLED TV inside the flesh is wowed by its technology. It combines the brightness advantages of LED screens with the deep black levels and rich contrast of plasma displays. It then squeezes them into an unbelievably thin panel. The frustrating thing, however, is that OLED panels have proved tricky to fabricate on the larger screen sizes had to create big tellies.
LG’s 55EA980V won’t have a mainstream price — it costs a whopping £5,000 — however it does prove that it’s possible to provide real OLED TVs that may be sold within the shops instead of only one-off prototypes for showing off at tradeshows. So, when it’s actually sitting in an ordinary front room, does it look and perform in addition to we were expecting?
2D picture quality
It’s obvious immediately once you activate the EA980V that it’s something special. Its black levels are only so deep and rich that they surpass anything I’ve seen before on a TV. If you end up watching it with the lights off, the image actually seems to drift in front of you. The dark areas are so perfectly black which you can’t see where the black bars on a Blu-ray movie start and the sides of the screen ends.
It’s actually slightly disconcerting at the start, as even on exceptionally good plasma screens, corresponding to Panasonic’s ZT65, the black areas of the screen glow so that you can quite easily see the perimeters of the display. Here though, they simply blend into the encompassing darkness. The self illuminating nature of OLED screens mean that there is not one of the horrible blotchiness in backlighting you get on LED screens. In this display, each individual pixel is its own light source — there isn’t any backlight — so darker areas of the image really do look properly dark.
Also, since it doesn’t should dim the screen in blocks within the way that LEDs with local dimming do, you’ll have areas of utmost brightness right next to areas of total blackness. This implies it’s going to reproduce pictures with huge levels of contrast, making its images look exceptionally punchy. It was also a good performer in the case of colour, because it delivers an extremely natural colour balance with beautifully vivid hues when called for and more subtle tones where needed.
The display isn’t totally perfect though, as unfortunately it does be afflicted by motion blur and a few judder. Basically, with all processing turned off it has pretty similar levels of blur to most LED displays. On our video motion blur test it had native motion resolution of 300 to 400 lines. While you activate processing you may improve things substantially to around 600 to 700 lines. Within the real world this reduces the blur on quick movement in video. As an instance, it gives a cleaner looking image on camera pans in footy matches.
Thankfully, it was possible to put off lots of the worst of the blur and judder as a result of less aggressive motion-processing settings. Inside the motion-processing menu, adjusting both the deblur and dejudder settings to one gave the impression to work quite well. Really, though, i assumed these issues were relatively minor in comparison to the total performance of the television.
What’s also interesting about this TV is its curved screen. LG has decided to bend the screen mainly since it can. I wasn’t initially a tremendous fan of the curve, however the arc is extremely gentle and consequently reasonably subtle when you are watching the television. After an afternoon I’d grown quite used to it. My main problem with it was that I just didn’t see much benefit to it. It didn’t make me feel just like the picture was any longer enveloping or engaging, it just makes the set harder to place comfortably in a room if there are various people watching it, or to wall mount it.
But let’s not get hung up at the negatives, because this TV really is incredibly engaging to monitor. Movies just look mind-blowingly good way to its excellent colour and contrast performance. Last year saw the discharge of a few really great plasma screens, reminiscent of Panasonic’s ZT65 and Samsung’s F8500, but I’d take the EA980V over either one of them any day of the week.
3D picture quality
LG invented passive 3D so it’s no surprise that this set uses the passive instead of active system. It comes with two pairs of designer glasses in addition to two pairs of clip-ons should you already wear specs. As with every passive glasses these will not be powered, so they’re very light to wear — just like putting on a couple of sun shades.
The disadvantage to using passive 3D on a 1080p set is that it halves the horizontal resolution of 3D pictures. Still, as a result of way our brains process visual information it looks more just like the image has around two thirds the resolution instead of half. Up close you’ll discover horizontal black lines within the image at the EA980V, but from a regular viewing distance they beautiful much disappear and the one time you may tell the picture isn’t Full HD is on circles or diagonal sharp lines, which may show about a jaggies.
Other than that, the EA980V is a pleasure to look at for 3D viewing. The shortcoming of flicker form the passive glasses makes for a miles less tiring 3D experience and helps the 3D images to feel that bit more solid and real. Plus the panel’s high brightness levels and deep black levels made even Prometheus look pretty special in 3D. i discovered that there has been marginally an excessive amount of judder in 3D with Motion Flow turned off, so it was best to make use of it on its lower settings to smooth a number of this out.