LG’s OLED groove continues, building on an excellent collection of TVs in 2016, with updated models in 2017. The naming convention follows suit year-on-year, with the OLED B7 being the range’s entry-level model and the alternative to 2016’s OLED B6.
While OLED is well known for exceptional blacks, it can’t manage quite the same brightness levels as you will discover from great LCD options, such as for example Sony’s ZD9 or Samsung’s new QLED range. But fear not OLED fans, because LG has notably improved performance and brightness this season. And the B7 is sensational, winning the 2017 Pocket-lint Award to find the best TV.
Quality design however, not LG’s thinnnest
55- and 65-inch sizes
Thin aluminium bezel
The only major difference between LG’s OLED TVs is their design. The B7 may be the entry-level proposition, sitting alongside the C7, with the only separation between your two being the stand design. There is no panel difference between the 2017 models in the OLED range.
Among the inherent features of OLED over LCD technology is the way the panel is illuminated – each pixel can individually be controlled, hence no haloing between blacks and whites – and it’s really a technology which can be formed into thin film, giving designers a good amount of freedom.
As the B7 doesn’t visit the design extremes of the LG OLED Wallpaper – which, as its name suggests, is nearly paper thin – it’s even so a slim television set through almost all of its body.
We’re discussing 5mm slim, with the metal back wrapping around the edges of the panel to create a tidy and minimalist bezel; it generally does not provide picture-on-glass design that is included with the G and E7 models, which are altogether more seamless, nonetheless it is referred to as a picture-on-metal design.
Where in fact the design of the B7 loses its bite is leaner down its rear, where in fact the brains of it sit on the trunk encased in plastic. Sure, it’s totally conventional, but that’s where the look differs quite radically from Samsung’s QLED rivals. Where Samsung is pushing 360-degree design, with a totally flat back, LG can’t make the same claims here.
Samsung can do so since it moves almost all the connections of its TVs right into a separate box – called One Connect – using one cable to hook up this to it. Both Samsung and Sony have recently incorporated hidden cable management systems too, whereas LG’s B7 design remains more conventional: you plug everything in to the rear of it, some straight in the trunk, some aside – although there’s a channel in the trunk of the stand enabling you to potentially run a few of your cables.
None of the really matters if you are putting your TV on a stand against the wall, but in the event that you were putting your TV between your loft apartment, it isn’t quite so pretty from the trunk (but you may be in a position to afford an G series instead).
Equally, in terms of wall mounting, the look means the B7 won’t sit as flush to the wall as Samsung’s QLED, regardless of the panel being thinner; it’s worth noting that LG’s Wallpaper gets for this problem by packing the brains in to the accompanying soundbar, which we suspect can be more of another trend.
LG OLED B7 display quality and performance
UHD/4K panel: 3580 x 2160 pixels
HDR support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
Those considering an OLED TV will be considering picture performance above the rest. The benefit OLED has over LCD is that it offers its own source of light in each pixel, meaning it really is started up and off more precisely, instead of having to count on spreading the illumination from a side source and using dimming zones to regulate the spread of the light.
The effect is staggering contrast with perfect black bars top and bottom if you are watching letterboxed content, like many movies. Take Gravity for instance: in the scene where Sandra Bullock is spinning through space, the OLED B7 offers this with constantly black bars, when the same scene on Samsung’s QLED sees tone changes as the light passes through them.
While the B7 offers great contrast overall, you could also experience some lack of detail in the dark areas, as the subtle transition from absolute black to not-quite-absolute black isn’t always as adeptly handled as LCD might offer.
OLED is not only about black, it’s about vibrant colours too. Which TV offers them with aplomb. While LCD could be in a position to punch out more vibrancy at greater brightness, there’s an extremely watchable richness to the latest-generation of OLED panel from LG.
While OLED isn’t known for the brightest whites, there’s great news for the B7: there’s a boost in brightness when compared to equivalent 2016 models, to bolster the high dynamic range (HDR) position and fight the aggressive brightness increases that LCD can provide. OLED can’t quite muster the same peak brightness, however the HDR lift in the B7 when compared to B6 from 2016 is very noticeable. It bolsters one important feature area and narrows the gap between LCD and OLED.
Netflix was just about your sole way to obtain Dolby Vision content initially, although Ultra HD Blu-ray has introduced Dolby Vision discs through 2017 (we’re yet to see one), assuming you have a compatible player (the Oppo UDP-203 and LG UP 970 will be the two current models, during writing). The big Dolby Vision hit originates from Apple with the brand new Apple TV, which includes positioned itself as rather essential in the 4K HDR content wars. If you need to find the most out of Apple TV 4K, the LG OLED B7 may be the best way to do it.
You can even change the HDR visual effects through a variety of picture settings. We discovered that on first play of the Dolby Vision-encoded Okja on Netflix, it defaulted to “cinema home” which is quite too yellow for all of us. In every cases it appears that the typical picture mode may be the more natural, aswell as offering (to your eyes) the most impactful HDR delivery when you are slightly brighter.
With the same panel and support in this OLED B7 model as the far pricier G model, there is no denying the rich picture qualiy of the B7 make it simple to fall for.
Don’t swallow the Atmos label whole, however. Although the Atmos support is nice and could come in useful for a few later on (particularly if Netflix ramps up support), you would be advised to get this TV for the visuals instead of the sound.
You can grab cheaper LCD TVs that contain the brightness to beat the B7 in the HDR stakes, but such tellies aren’t a patch on the entire richness and performance in terms of offering really deep and precise blacks.
There are increasing OLED rivals from Panasonic, Philips and Sony, but you need to hand it to LG: the B7 is magnificent, a complete joy to view. In this 55-inch size, it’s extraordinarily tempting, especially since you can buy it at under £2000.