Smart TV

LG OLED65E9PUA

Style costs money. That applies to TVs as much as anything else—look no further than LG’s organic light-emitting diode (OLED) models for proof. All of the company’s OLED TVs are expensive, but since they use very similar panels and offer comparable picture quality, the difference between the various tiers mostly comes down to style. The OLEDE9P series, for instance, has a glass front and a recessed base that makes it appear as if the TV is floating. It performs almost identically to the more conventional OLEDC9P series, so you’re spending hundreds of dollars more for the effect. The 65-inch OLED65E9PUA we tested costs $4,299.99, $800 more than the 65-inch OLED65C9PUA. Both look fantastic, so the big question is how much more you’re willing to spend for a more striking design.

Floating Glass Design

The E9P uses a glass panel that juts out from the bottom of the OLED screen. It’s a similar design to the E8P, but instead of a small silver foot in the center of the TV, the entire base is located behind the glass. The heavy, wide metal foot keeps the E9P standing securely, while sitting far back enough that you can only see the glass at a casual glance, reinforcing the illusion that it’s floating in the air. The supporting glass peeks out a tiny bit from behind the sides and top of the OLED panel, producing a micro-bezel framing the TV, around a thin black border that outlines the active part of the OLED.

All ports and on-TV controls are on the left side of the back of the TV, with the power cable extending from the right side of the back. The connections consist of three HDMI ports and a USB port facing left in a rectangular recess. There is also a fourth HDMI port, two more USB ports, an Ethernet port, an antenna/cable connector, an optical audio output, and 3.5mm ports for analog audio output, composite video input with the included adapter, and RS232 control system integration facing directly back. A small, clickable direction stick on the lower left corner of the back of the TV serves as a power button and offers limited control.

The Magic Remote is now-standard LG high-end TV fare. It’s a curved black plastic wand dominated by a direction pad with a clickable scroll wheel in the middle. Volume and channel rockers, a number pad, and a pinhole microphone sit above the direction pad, while source, Guide, Play, Pause, and four color buttons sit below alongside dedicated service buttons for accessing Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. The remote also works as an air mouse, letting you control an on-screen pointer by waving it around.

LG OLED65C9PUA

WebOS

Like all of LG’s connected TVs over the past several years, the E9P uses WebOS as its interface and smart TV platform. It’s a friendly, easy-to-use system built around a row of parallelogram icons that pop up along the bottom edge of the screen. You can arrange your favorite apps, inputs, and channels along that row, or let the TV sort them by how often you use each one.

Google Assistant is incorporated into WebOS, giving you smart home control that lets you treat the TV like a Google Home (by holding a button on the remote and speaking into it, not hands-free with a wake word), but leaves media search functions to LG’s own voice search feature. Amazon Alexa is slated to be added to WebOS as an option later this month, so you can choose which voice assistant you want to use with your TV.

As a streaming service platform, WebOS supports several big names, but its selection isn’t anywhere close to what Roku or Amazon Fire TV offer. The big names are here, like Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, Vudu, and YouTube. However, you won’t find Crunchyroll, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, or Amazon Prime Music, and the app store’s collection of more niche apps is fairly small.

WebOS has plenty of features built in, including a web browser that’s fairly easy to use because of the Magic Remote’s air mouse function. It also can stream mobile device and PC screens over Miracast; has a built-in program guide that supports the built-in tuner, connected set-top boxes, and free streaming internet TV channels; and includes a gallery mode that can show framed art or scenic views when you aren’t watching anything.

LG OLED65E9PUA

Performance

The LG OLEDE9PUA supports high dynamic range (HDR) video in HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG).

We test TVs with a Klein K-10A colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G test pattern generator, and Portrait Displays’ CalMAN software using methodology based on Imaging Science Foundation’s calibration techniques. Unsurprisingly, the E9P showed excellent contrast and color performance, which we’ve come to expect from OLED TVs. Slightly surprisingly, the panel was slightly dimmer than the E8P in our testing. Using an HDR10 signal in the TV’s Technicolor Expert picture mode, the E9P shows a peak brightness of 633.56cd/m2, more than 100cd/m2 lower than the E8P. Using a full field, that number oddly drops to 156.74cd/m2, higher than the E8P’s full-field brightness. The E9P’s panel is still bright enough for most users; only a handful of LCD TVs produce significantly higher peak brightness levels, like the Sony Master Series Z9F’s 1,677.49cd/m2 with an 18 percent field. Of course, it has a black level of 0.06cd/m2, which the E9P’s OLED panel completely smashes.

LG OLED65E9PUA

Because of how OLED panels produce their picture, they can generate greater light if it’s concentrated into a smaller area, so this dim full-field performance is unsurprising. The TV’s perfect black levels are also unsurprising; like all OLED TVs we’ve tested, the E9P produces no light for black pixels, no matter what else is being shown on the screen. This means the TV offers “infinite” contrast.

The above chart shows measured color levels on the E9P in the Technicolor Expert picture mode as dots and DCI-P3 color levels as boxes. The TV covers almost all of the DCI-P3 color space, and hits primary colors almost spot-on. However, even at the warmest color temperature preset, whites run a bit cool, with secondary colors all appearing slightly cool along with it. It’s a strong color range, but accuracy out of the box isn’t particularly impressive when compared with the Samsung Q9FN LCD TV.

Professional TV calibration can be an expensive procedure, and while we wouldn’t recommend it for a $600 TV, we’d certainly consider it for a $4,300 model. Calibration requires specialized equipment and software, so you’ll need to seek out a professional calibrator to perform it. While manual calibration can take hours, the E9P and other high-end LG TVs support automatic calibration that lets specialized software (Portrait Displays’ CalMAN, the same software we use to test TVs) take over the display and rapidly analyze and tweak a wide range of picture settings in a matter of minutes. Even the automatic calibration process requires a professional, however; both a colorimeter and the software to properly use it are more expensive to acquire than hiring a calibrator to do it for you.

Even with slightly cool whites and skewed secondary colors out of the box, the E9P looks fantastic when displaying 4K HDR content. BBC’s Planet Earth II looks vibrant and natural, with the greens of the plants and the blues of the water appearing vibrant without seeming oversaturated. Fine details like tree bark and fur can be clearly seen both in direct light and in shade, without a hint of shadows appearing muddy or washed-out. It’s a superlative viewing experience, which for OLED TVs is the rule rather than the exception.

Deadpool looks similarly good on the E9P. Deadpool’s red costume looks vivid and balanced, and flesh tones appear accurate and natural under awkward overcast and indoor lighting. The burning lab scene shows off the OLED panel’s strong contrast, with the orange-yellow flames appearing bright against well-defined shadow details in the rubble.

The E9P’s infinite contrast comes through the most in the party scenes in The Great Gatsby. The bright whites of the lights and decorations stand out thanks to the OLED panel’s ability to make highlights pop against dark backgrounds. The black and dark blue suits come through very clearly as well, with every wrinkle and contour visible while still appearing dark; most LCD TVs tend to swallow those details in shadows, or blow them out to look gray.

LG OLED65E9PUA

Input Lag

Input lag is the amount of time between when a TV receives a signal and the screen updates. In Technicolor Expert mode, we measured an unacceptably high input lag of 108.4ms. Fortunately, putting the TV in Game mode dropped that down to an excellent 12.9ms, making it one of our best TVs for gaming. Just remember to switch to Game mode before you start playing.

Style Costs

The LG E9P series of OLED TVs offer predictably excellent picture quality and a gorgeous design, with a glass front and a recessed base that give the illusion the TV is floating. Colors are slightly cool out of the box, but still striking thanks to a strong color range and superlative contrast. It’s very expensive, like all OLED TVs, and that $4,300 price for the 65-inch version we tested is pretty hard to swallow.

Since it uses an effectively identical OLED panel as the C9P, you’re essentially spending an extra $800 just for that floating glass design. Because of this, the OLED C9P is our Editors’ Choice. If the style is important to you, go for it. And if your pockets are deep enough, you can even consider spending a few thousand more for a Signature OLEDW9P, LG’s latest version of the Signature OLEDW7P we tested two years ago that consists of an ultra-thin, wall-mountable OLED panel you can place on the wall like a painting, connected by a thin wire to an included Dolby Atmos soundbar that contains all of the TV’s electronics.

If you don’t want to spend several thousand dollars on a new TV, consider the TCL 6-series, our Editors’ Choice for budget screens. It doesn’t have the perfect black levels of an OLED model, but it has excellent contrast and color accuracy, and a 65-inch model is available for less than $1,000.



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