LG 55EA9800-TA OLED TV
There are two things most people notice instantly about OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs: one, they have an eye-catching picture; and two, they cost way too much.
Like most new technologies, the cost of producing the first models is high and prices are beyond most budgets until sales reach a point where the manufacturing costs start to fall. Back in 1956, when television debut in Australia, a black-and-white 17” TV cost around £200 – roughly the price of a small car. The first 106cm plasma TVs cost around $20,000, although prices fell quite quickly.
OLED technology will no doubt take a similar route if enough people like what they see. LG lent us the 55EA9800-TA OLED TV, so we could see first-hand what the future may look like.
What we found
We compared this TV against a number of regular TVs in our lab and found it's an undoubtedly impressive picture, with remarkable blacks. However, more important than just the black level is the detail in shadows, and in that regard this is the best TV we’ve ever seen. Our testers have watched some sequences from our test movies hundreds of times over the years, but they've never seen some of the detail the 55EA9800-TA can deliver. Action sequences are smooth and there’s not a lot of noise in this screen, so even when you’re too close it isn’t unpleasant to watch.
But it’s not all good news. The seven-degree curve is a gimmick and just adds to reflections. From front-on it’s not a problem, but as you move to the sides there’s some distortion and the curve becomes more apparent. One of the advantages of OLED technology is that you can move to extreme angles and the picture remains almost as saturated as when you’re in front. So there seems little need for a curve, other than to prove it’s possible. Both LG and Samsung currently have curved OLED models, and we expect them to go flat with the next generations. The 55EA9800-TA cannot be wall mounted.
Many CHOICE staff members who viewed the screen said they thought it looked a little dull compared with a bright LCD screen. This is something we often see with plasma screens desperately trying to keep their energy use to a minimum. OLED screens can use a lot of power when producing large areas of white light compared with an LED backlit LCD TV, but they make up for it by using virtually none when producing blacks.
White levels on this TV are lowish, but a long way from being a problem if your room lighting is low – it’s just that some bright outdoor scenes may look a little subdued. The upside of this is that you tend to get more detail in highlights as well as shadows – but there is a lack of punch, despite its good colour saturation.
The screen on the 55EA9800-TA has a slight pinkish tinge, which can be seen in reflections and sometimes in lighter tones. This gives a slightly warm feel to the image, which is more an observation than a criticism, as some people will prefer a warmer image.
Sound on TVs is one of our constant complaints, and it’s disappointing to find this very expensive TV distorts quickly and sounds pretty tinny, even at low volume.
There’s no doubt the LG 55EA9800-TA OLED TV has one of the best pictures we’ve seen in our lab, and it’s a very promising technology. However, we’re not excited by the curve and are seriously underwhelmed by the sound.
At this price, our advice is to wait a while before buying.