UK Shootout Favours LCD Over OLED

HDTV Test, AV retailer Crampton and Moore and Leeds Trinity University ran an HDR TV shootout in the UK this month, and – in a surprising result – the viewers chose an LCD set over OLED.

80% of the 22 trade attendees said that they preferred the LCD TVs (Samsung’s KS9500 (KS9800 in the USA), Panasonic’s TX-DX902 and Sony’s KD-XD9405) over the LG E6V OLED TV. All sets were 65″ aside from the Sony, which was 75″.

Samsung’s TV was said to be the best at reproducing HDR content (nine votes), followed by Panasonic’s (six votes), LG’s (four votes) and finally Sony’s (three votes). The audience was shown a variety of HDR content, including from 4k Blu-rays, Netflix and – where supported – Dolby Vision clips.

Image: HDTV TestVincent Teoh, a journalist for HDTV Test, said that Samsung’s TV was the most popular, “largely because it was the only display that could resolve highlight detail up to 4,000 nits, helped by some clever tone-mapping, even though its peak brightness topped out at 1,400 nits. Although the TV betrayed some greyness and posterisation [colour striping] versus its rivals in dark scenes, and its curved screen was raised as a concern by attendees during the demos, voters praised its all-round HDR performance with more pros than cons.”

Panasonic’s TV was felt to deliver the best black level of the three LCD sets, but also suffered from more aggressive backlight blooming. Sony’s TV, meanwhile, was said to suffer from relatively low peak brightness and a similarly low number of individually-controllable LED dimming zones.

LG’s TV, of course, had excellent black levels. Attendees also praised its strong colour reproduction, Dolby Vision HDR performance and the lack of any backlight bleed. However, when compared to the LCD sets the viewers said that the lower peak brightness held the E6V back. Teoh said, “LG’s E6 could not fully resolve the sun in the skydiving sequence of Kingsman, let alone the bubble as the orphan-stealing ship arrives in Neverland in Pan. Its brightness settings also needed to be upped from the default value of ’50’ to restore some shadow detail in HDR mode, which elevated its blacks, so the black level gap between OLED and LED LCD was narrowed.”

When it came to SDR images, LG’s OLED TV cleaned the floor with its rivals, securing 18 of the votes. Samsung took the remaining four.

Analyst Comment

The results suggest that brightness is becoming at least as important as black levels when it becomes to HDR viewing. That does not mean that OLED will not be able to compete with LCD, though; according to Teoh, several attendees felt that the sun in the Kingsman skydiving scene looked at least as bright as it did on LCD sets, due to OLED’s higher native contrast ratio. If the ability of OLED TVs to render colour tones in bright areas can be improved, then LG will prove that there is still a battle to be won. (TA)