"Every scale in Richards' snakeskin jacket is accounted for"
FOR Stunning contrast; sharp, clear picture; upscales HD well AGAINST Picture needs more subtlety; no ITV Player or All4
You want an OLED TV? You have a choice of LG or Panasonic. LG has stood out somewhat in the OLED arena for the past five years, but the latest panel technology is now a tale of two brands. That said, unless you’re willing to sell a kidney for Panasonic’s debut OLED – the £8000 TX)65CZ952B – or wait for a more affordable model to appear, then it’s probably one of the LG’S 10 or so models you’ll be after.
LG has updated some of its existing OLEDS – its two-strong EF9500 range and 55EG9200 model – with HDR (High Dynamic Range) support for streaming services that provide HDR content (such as Amazon Instant Video), but sadly the 65EC970V has been left out.
HDR isn’t even an official standard yet – the UHD Alliance is still working on it – but its omission here is worth bearing in mind for those adamant about future-proofing.
The 65EC970V was one of the first confirmed 4K OLED screens that we saw, and it started life around £6000 – not so preposterous when you consider the Panasonic’s asking price, perhaps, but that’s not to say we aren’t ecstatic to find it’s been significantly reduced. That puts it among fierce competition for those open to 4K LCDS such as the Samsung UE65JS8500 (£3000) and UE65JS9500 (£6000). So is the LG the leader of the pack?
Deep blacks take our breath
We start with the documentary Keith Richards: Under The Influence in Ultra HD on Netflix: a good sell for 4K and an even better one for OLED.
This isn't the first OLED we’ve seen, or even the second. But the depth of black the OLED panel can display still has the ability to take our breath away. Needless to say, the 65EC970V ‘out-blacks’ any LCD we put up next to it. Not only that, because the pixels in an OLED panel are self-lighting, when they turn off to produce black there’s no bleeding into another pixel. So when a black piano key meets a white one, it’s remarkably precise and defined.
Both extremes of the contrast range are confidently handled, even if the purity and brightness of the whites aren’t quite as eyebrow-raising. It’s a strong hand to hold, but one we feel LG has slightly overplayed.
Texture in textiles
While Richards’ leather jacket looks inky deep – even small black details on his hats and guitars are given the lights-out treatment – texture and clarity is a little jeopardised. Things can sometimes look unnaturally black.
Still, the 65EC970V’S savvy picture means you don’t need a close-up of the veteran rock star to make out the subtle ribbed texture of his headband.
There’s insight into his rugged face and every scale in his snakeskin jacket is accounted for. You get your money’s worth in terms of crispness and sharpness, too. As for viewing angles, they’re good by the standards of a curved screen.
Continue your 65EC970V journey with a Blu-ray and the LG does its best to trick you into thinking it was made for this 4K screen. Jurassic World is alive with bright, rich colour, and the LG makes the park look like a pretty spectacular place. The greens are lush and varied, and the Mosasaurus pool sparkles. There’s subtle shading in the dinosaurs' scaly skin too.
Again, colour isn’t the most nuanced we’ve laid eyes on – that honour belongs to the Samsung UE65JS9500. Although not ‘out there’ enough to call gaudy, the LG’S palette has a stubborn vibrancy to it that shirks outright realism. We knock the colour settings down a touch and reduce the impact of colour processing modes for a more faithful picture, but we’re never fully convinced.
Setting Trumotion mode to ‘smooth’ or ‘clear’ is a must to iron out some motion instabilities in fast-moving scenes. So Jessica Chastain glides across the control room in one swift, smooth motion and people stay pin-like as the camera pans over the theme park.
Despite issues with colour subtlety peeping through HD broadcasts too, generally speaking the LG is a pretty talented upscaler. We’d stick to those motion modes where possible: in SD, the scrolling text across the bottom of the screen during Channel 4’s Deal Or No Deal is a bit blurry, and Noel Edmonds is softer than you’d want him to be. But this is advice we find ourselves giving with regard to most large 4K screens. It’s a compromise.
The EC970V’S passive 3D performance is as bright and crisp as we’ve seen, and is comfortable to watch close-up. Contrast is well handled, and that goes for motion stability too.
LG has partnered with Harman Kardon to improve the sound of its tellies, and the
£3600 "Jurassic World is awash with bright, rich colour, and the LG makes the park look like a pretty spectacular place. The greens are lush and varied, and the Mosasaurus pool sparkling"
collaboration has produced good results. It’s bigger, clearer and more dynamic than the typical sound you get from TV speakers.
The ruggedness of Keith Richards’ throaty voice is intact, while the guitar work and instruments playing behind the interviews are clear and detailed. It goes quite loud too, although there will surely be a time when you want the weight, bass and insight of a high-end soundbar.
The art of slimming
Its above-par sound quality is surprising considering the EC970V’S physique. It’s what LG calls ‘art slim’, and it’s a fair moniker. The screen is no more than half-a-finger's width, classily finished with an almost-zero bezel that sits flat against the television's slight curve.
A thicker back panel does a good job of keeping the screen sturdy (give it a slight push and there’s hardly any wobble), as does the premium-looking metal stand.
Not sure how the back of your TV looks? That’s probably because it’s never caught your eye. You wouldn’t forget the LG’S reflective, smooth-to-the-touch rear, though. It just shows the effort that’s gone into making the 65EC970V look as good when it’s off as when it’s on.
It’s also where you’ll find three USBS and four 4K-supporting HDMIS, as well as a host of component inputs and a digital output for, say, a soundbar.
LG hopes you don’t miss Corrie or Made In Chelsea because neither ITV Player nor All4 is present in the LG’S smart offering at the moment. Instead, catch-up TV services BBC iplayer and Demand 5, and video-streaming services NOW TV, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video are under your nose. More apps are available to download from the LG Store too.
You don’t have to flick through each one to find your Friday night viewing, either. LG can do that for you. In the card launcher menu, ‘Today’ opens a panel of what’s available to watch that day. 'Recommend’ plucks content in a similar fashion, basing its selections on your viewing habits. ‘My programmes’ is another handy shortcut, letting you pin your favourite channels to the launcher menu.
LG’S WEBOS has quickly become the darling of TV software platforms with its smart, intuitive interface, and the EC970V packs the latest version (2.0). It feels natural to use and whether you’re changing inputs or tinkering with picture settings, nothing feels like a chore.
There's no shortage of big-brand, big-screen TVS out there now, so don't rush in. There are the bonuses of OLED here – high contrast, wider viewing angles, thinner panels – but the picture isn't necessarily the best on the market. The 65EC970V is a fine telly, but there are subtler, more accomplished performers available that won’t clean out your purse as much.
Not only is the LG
bezel is elegantly
flush with its
screen, and the
slight angle of its
curve is attractive
works well, but
there’s a standard
handset for those
who prefer it