LG 55EG9600 (55EG960V) Review

These new OLED TVs are the TVs we are most excited about for the year. OLED TV is the technology of the future but with the curved EG9600 its here and available now, even in 4K UHD resolution. Only Sony and Samsung’s very best, top of the line 4K full local dimming models can come close to matching OLED TVs. LG’s new 4K line of OLED TVs won our Best of CES 2015 awards for best picture in the market.

Strengths

  • Super rich colors
  • Pitch blacks, Superb contrast
  • Perfect side angle viewing quality
  • Magic remote controlling Smart TV operation
  • Super Appearance/Design with top of frame only .25” thick
  • Web OS2.0 solid Smart TV operation robust
  • Bright Room performance

    Weaknesses

  • Artifacts caused by 4K upscaling
  • Not HDR 4K capable (but will be updated later)

    Neutral

  • Curved Screen
  • Color Less accurate than the best LED 4K TVs
  • Panel Uniformity

Picture Quality Rating: 96/100

4K TVs compared to EG9600

This is an often asked question. I can add a few insights due to our latest reviews. I was a little surprised by the pixelating artifacts on images with the EG9600. OLED is much more like plasma in this regard. A 4K LED-LCD with good upscaling does look smoother, and color more accurate but the advantages of the EG9600’s dynamic contrast, black levels, color and perfect side viewing angles outweighs the artifacts issue. I could not tell if the artifacts were a result of an inherent trait in OLED TVs or an small issue with processing from LG. See our complete discussion on OLED vs. 4K here.

Black Levels and Color

When you view an EG9600 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. 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). 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.

I’m not entering into a discussion about the maneuvers like Quantum Dot/ Nanocrystal 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 EG9600 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.

Side Angle Viewing

“Since OLED TVs do not suffer from this problem, why make them curved? “

Another area we always highlight is off center viewing contrast. With OLED and the EG9600 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. The backlight is the problem with LED TVs. Anyway, let’s just say that side angle viewing is perfect not matter your angle and leave it at that. I always thought of the curved screen as a trick used by LED TV manufacturers to try to minimize the side viewing contrast degradation of LCD TVs with LED backlighting. Since OLED TVs do not suffer from this problem, why make them curved? One day they wont be. It just adds to the cost.

Up Conversion to 4K Clarity and Definition

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 do not see the content situation getting rapidly better either. However, LG has put some effort into up scaling with the new “Tru-4K Upscaler” which uses an algorithm to smooth the transition from lower resolutions to the native 4K(p) resolution of the panel. We give the EG9600 up-scaling performance a solid B. We note a loss of clarity and definition especially in standard def programming but also in 720p. With 1080p the up scaling was noticeably better. Overall, we do see a good bit more definition and clarity with the EF9500 than with a 1080p LED TV or with LG’s 1080p OLED TV from last year. So there is a solid benefit to the 4K panel aside from just future-proofing.

 

Features Rating: 92/100

Design and Appearance

As discussed above, I don’t believe you should curve an OLED TV since there are no side angle viewing issues. The design of the EG9600 is called “floating curved” for the clear plexi stand mount. It’s very attractive and the panel itself is beautiful with a minimal frame and extra thin panel depth except for the bottom cavity which houses boards and speakers.

WebOS 2.0 Smart TV Features

After taking flack from us and others two years ago, LG has put some effort into speeding Smart TV function with the first WebOS and now WebOS 2.0. Boot up times are faster, though not as fast as the new Android TV platform. The interface layout is simpler and more intuitive and makes sorting your favorite programs very easy with the point and click operation of the new LG Magic Remote (we love the Magic Remote).

Smart TV options are Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, HSN, Showtime, Drama Fever, iHeart Radio, and newly DirecTV, and GoPro. The GoPro Channel App is only available to LG webOS and allows LG TV owners to stream GoPro videos on-demand. The channel anticipates adding 4K content soon.

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.

Sound Quality

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. With the EG9600 they’ve passed the responsibility to Harman Kardon.

Gaming Performance

The EG9600 delivered a good performance of 45.5 input lag when in Game mode. It did even better compared to other TVs outside of Game mode at only 60ms.

Passive 3D

Excellent 3D quality using 4K resolution and and OLED panel sets the new standard for performance.

Value Rating: 78/100

Value is not the strong suit of this premium TV priced at a current $4499 for the 55EG9600. The updated aesthetic package and 4K OLED panel are very high end features and not inexpensive to produce. So you are at least getting something for your money. Since there are currently no other OLED TVs on the market, we can only compare to the top of the line 4K LED-LCD TVs. The best Samsung or Sony would run around $2500.

Overall Rating: 88/100

Quick Specs

  • 4 Color Pixel WRGB (white subpixel added)
  • 2160p Resolution (4K)
  • Tru-4K Engine
  • Tru-4K Upscaler
  • UHD File Playback (HEVC and VP9 decoder compatible)
  • 2 Pair 3D (passive) Glasses included
  • HDMI 3 inputs (2.0 compatible)
  • USB 3 inputs
  • LG Wall Mount Only, OTW150
  • TV Dims – 48.3”W x 28.3”H x 2”Depth
  • TV with Stand Dims 48.3” x 29.9” x 8.4”
  • Speakers: 10W X 2

Sharp LC-70N7100U Review

Hisense-Sharp Takeover

Hisense, a large Chinese manufacturer licensed the Sharp name in June of 2015. Hisense is not a well known brand in the U.S., but it is in China, where the company has the number 1 market share in units sold. It’s also reportedly #3 globally in units sold with over 16 million TVs produced. Hisense is focusing on low priced models as well as high quality featured TVs all the way up to THX certification in its bid to gain U.S. Market share. Hisense purchased the Sharp brand and the Mexico assembly facility in a $23M deal. The Sharp models will purportedly still use the Sharp LCD panels in their production.

Picture Quality

The N7100 series bumps the resolution to 4K UHD, and has solid picture quality with a good front and center viewing black levels and color saturation. HD 720P, 1080p signals and lower are upconverted by the Revelation upscaler. This is one of the most important elements of any 4K TV as there is still little available content. Most of what we watch is still 1080p (if we’re lucky) but mostly 720p and 480p.

HDR Enabled

My take is that if future HDR content is a major consideration to you, then this is probably not the TV for you. HDR is a ways off really getting going with content. The N7100U is HDR “enabled” meaning you will be able to accept HDR mastered content and display it, but not in its full glory. You would see it in HD or 4K or whatever the resolution is but without the HDR widened and brighter color spectrum.

Colors and black levels do degrade at side angles starting at 15 degrees off center. Brightness levels are fine. There is some perceived lack of depth in on-screen images.

Aquodimming is present in this TV, which is contrast enhanced in areas of the screen by manipulating the backlight. The effects seem negligible when testing.

Full Array Local Dimming

Full array local dimming is a major benefit as LED backlights are controlled by zonal manipulation in such a way that they can help increase contrast in various areas of on-screen images. In a 70” TV they are especially beneficial. We give the N7100U an average rating in full array local dimming processing and presentation, but the feature is welcome.

Features

Obviously, the N7100 series is a value oriented 4K oriented TV., but it still packs some surprising features. It has a built in streaming Apps selection including the usual suspects that you use most like Netflix, Amazon on Demand, and You Tube. Built in Dual Band Wifi. An Apps store and web browser. And a media player/receiver. It also has the Sharp “Aquomotion” designation which manipulates the backlight in order to show a perceived smoother picture (increased Hz rate designation). Gaming input lag is very average on this TV, not up to par with mid range Samsung, LG and Vizio models.

Price/Value

The 70N7100 series is a high value focused model with 4K resolution and a good upscaling engine. At around $1899 the 70N7100U is a great value for this size and quality of TV if you are not sensitive to the TV having a great Streaming Video package. You get 4K resolution, HDR enabled, the quality Sharp panel and though it’s not the best panel in the market, it’s hard to argue with the price.

Sharp N5000 Review

Hisense-Sharp Takeover

Hisense, a large Chinese manufacturer licensed the Sharp name in June of 2015. Hisense is not a well known brand in the U.S., but it is in China, where the company has the number 1 market share in units sold. It’s also reportedly #3 globally in units sold with over 16 million TVs produced. Hisense is focusing on low priced models as well as high quality featured TVs all the way up to THX certification in its bid to gain U.S. Market share. Hisense purchased the Sharp brand and the Mexico assembly facility in a $23M deal. The Sharp models will purportedly still use the Sharp LCD panels in their production.

Picture Quality

The N5000 series has decent picture quality with a good front and center viewing black levels and color saturation. Colors and black levels do degrade at side angles starting at 15 degrees off center. Brightness levels are fine. There is some perceived lack of depth in on-screen images. With HD signals the picture is much more robust as the upscaling video boards are not as high end in this TV as some of the higher priced models.

Technology

The 60” and 65” inch sizes of this model are edge lit, while the 40”, 50”, and 55” models are backlit. Does that make the smaller sizes better? Not necessarily, a good edge lit backlit TV is better than a poor direct backlit TV. It also allows the edge lit displays to be slimmer. It all depends on the number of zones and quality of the LED lighting. Both the larger and smaller sizes of the N5000 are of average quality. They get the job done but are not going to blow you away with brightness levels.

Features

Obviously, the N5000 series is a price oriented TV (any TV with lower than 4K resolution is), but it still packs some surprising features. It has a built in streaming Apps selection including the usual suspects that you use most like Netflix, Amazon on Demand, and You Tube. Built in Wifi. An Apps store and web browser. And a media player/receiver. It also has the Sharp “Aquomotion” designation which manipulates the backlight in order to show a perceived smoother picture (increased Hz rate designation).

Price/Value

The N5000 series is a high value focused model. For example, at around $999 the 65N5200U will be one of the best value large screen models in the market in 2016. You still get the quality Sharp panel and though it’s not the best panel in the market, it’s hard to argue with the price. At the small end of the spectrum the 43” model sells for an incredible $350.00.