"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

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Test -

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

LG 65EC970V

OLED TV

£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

su­per-slim, its

bezel is el­e­gantly

flush with its

screen, and the

slight an­gle of its

curve is at­trac­tive

LG’S on-screen­cur­sor-based

smart re­mote

works well, but

there’s a stan­dard

hand­set for those

who pre­fer it

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