As one of the most exciting and promising displays to come around in quite a while, LG's 65EG9600 is also somewhat hard to get ahold of, according to Cleveland AV owner Chris Majoros, who has sold LG OLEDs to many lucky enthusiasts over the last couple of years.
The top half of the 65EG9600's screen is impressively thin; which, along with the gently curved screen and clear stand, gives a sleek, high tech appearance. Unfortunately, the clear stand also exposes HDMI cables and other wires which may be attached to the display; so any excitement it may have created was short lived for new 65EG9600 owner Terry, who had to find some black velvet like material to attach to the bottom to hide the cables. The curve can slightly enhance the viewing experience for those who view at close distances; but for more typical viewing distances, it's something that tends to be dealt with or tuned out. As an owner of a flat screened plasma, I've found the curve to be a little odd at typical living room distances, but not a hindrance to my enjoyment even at moderate off axis angles. While other OLEDs I've tested had remained watchable off axis, they did acquire a noticeable off-white characteristic. Refreshingly, the 65EG9600 is a distinct departure from that tradition, with only a barely discernible reduction in color richness when viewed at an angle. With test patterns, I could see a very slightly cooler white balance, but the difference was benign and, if anything, in a complimentary direction. As with most modern high end displays, the 65EG9600's glossy screen picks up strong reflections like a mirror, though otherwise it tends to stay fairly dark in the presence of ambient light.
Terry, who as the owner of a modified and ISF calibrated Pioneer E-Lite Kuro is no stranger to high performance displays, was taken aback with the 65EG9600's black levels. Even legendary plasmas can't quite match the perfect blacks of LG's OLEDs, and the difference can be significant in dark movie scenes viewed in a light controlled room. The 65EG9600 provides those perfect blacks without the need for problematic and often ineffective LED dimming, leading to a picture with unmatched pop and impact.
The first round of viewing was made with varied DirecTV content sent at native resolution through a Denon X4000 receiver, which was set to pass through video with no alteration. I later realized that the pre-calibration viewing was also going through a Darbee processor set to a very mild HD setting in the 30s. Viewed in a mostly light controlled room and before making any calibration adjustments, the Cinema
and ISF Expert
picture modes looked identical. Colors were good, though they could lean toward the rich side on some content. Panning and motion looked unnaturally choppy with most content including commercials and premium movie channels; however, sports motion and tickers seemed quite good and artifact free. Contrast was absolutely fantastic, though the picture was definitely on the bright side. Highlights, including brightly lit faces, appeared somewhat compressed and blended together. Depth perspective seemed to have good potential, though it was often reduced by that impression of compressed highlights. The image was fairly clean and grain free, though there was the impression that the cleanliness had been achieved by artificial means because definition and sharpness appeared much softer than expected. 720P stations seem to take less of a definition hit than 1080i stations. The DirecTV program guide looked just a little unusual, though I didn't know quite what to make of that at the time. Overall, the picture's outstanding contrast and good color reproduction were let down strongly by seemingly overblown highlights and a lack of definition.
were both horribly unnatural, with Vivid's colors slightly tamer but still over the top. I would not recommend watching anything in either of these picture modes.
fell somewhere between the overprocessed and garish look of Vivid and the more natural but lower definition of Cinema, though colors lacked richness and the image did not look true to life.
mode also bridged the gap between Vivid and Cinema, though with more grace and lifelikeness. Bright highlights were still very compressed and homogenized, but colors and contrast had absolutely mesmerizing pop. Though not the last word in image and skin tone accuracy, Game mode had a lot going for it for general content, not just games.
Round two consisted of familiar 1080P/24 Blu Ray material, viewed under the same conditions.
The blacks and contrast had an amazing “Wow!” factor in Cinema/ISF Expert
. Colors seemed very accurate, and detail and definition were impressive in most scenes; though at times I felt I saw the lowered definition look observed on DirecTV. The image had good depth and dimensionality. Shadow detail was neutral in tone though balanced slightly dark, meaning some dark objects were too hard to see.
mode was bright and punchy, though whites were too bluish and bright blues in general seemed excessive. Colors were extremely vibrant, and definition was very satisfying. Shadow detail appeared somewhat too dark in some scenes, with dark clothes tending to sink down into the black background. Motion and pans were choppy. There was moire visible as the buildings came into view in the 1st chapter of The Dark Knight. Despite the flaws, this was what TV demo modes should all look like: excitement, detail, and pop galore; even more than in real life.
4K Netflix was evaluated in Cinema
mode using the display's built in app. The menu system was very sluggish and nearly unusable while streaming. Colors were beautiful and dimensionality was excellent. I saw pretty good detail, though it was often not quite as razor sharp as I expected. The image was clean and natural with shadow detail balanced somewhat dark.
Calibration was performed in a mostly dark room, with my pattern generator feeding images directly to the 65EG9600's HDMI input. The 65EG9600 had the latest software version of 03.03.06. 1080i, 1080P/60, and 1080P/24 YCbCr and RGB all measured identically.
The 65EG9600 calibrated so differently than other LG OLED models, even the 55EG9600 reviewed here
, that previous calibration techniques developed on them will not work properly. The first big surprise came when I tested for displacement of the 20 point white balance controls. In all other LG OLED displays I've tested, contrast had to be kept high enough to shave off all whiter than white headroom in order to avoid displacement of the controls. This means initial 20 point adjustment should be done with very high contrast settings on those models. However, I found that the 20 point controls were optimized for a contrast setting of 73 on the 65EG9600, which gives more than full WTW headroom. This was tested at both 2.2 and 2.4 gamma presets after calibrating brightness. This is a very welcome change, and will simplify getting a good calibration result. The CMS adjustment is OK to use now, though slight side effects can still occur outside of a +- 10 step limit with red saturation and luminance. I was able to reduce the delta error of color saturation sweeps with just mild CMS adjustment. I have noticed a tendency for LG OLEDs to reproduce some subtle color shades inaccurately, so I made a custom color measurement that takes color saturation sweeps at 15% brightness. As can be seen from the calibration report, dark shades of cyan and magenta are reproduced with a visible error that is not able to be calibrated out, with cyan being pulled towards green and magenta towards red. This is an LG OLED characteristic, with varying degrees of severity from one sample to the next. The before and after calibration report is attached, though due to file size limitations the readability is poor. For those who would like to see the calibration report in better resolution with readable numbers, please PM me your email address.
As with past models, there is no meaningful difference in measurements between any window size up to 25%, and between APL surround and traditional windows; all windows of any style measure nearly identically. Before calibration in Cinema/ISF Expert, the 65EG9600 put out 72 fL with measurement windows, 47 fL with 50% size windows, and 27 fL with full fields. Another characteristic the 65EG9600 shares with it's predecessors is failure to copy the white balance controls to the antenna or smart TV streaming inputs when the "copy to all inputs" function is engaged. Both 2 and 20 point settings must be manually recorded on an HDMI input and then manually entered into those inputs.
The results of a static resolution test at default horizontal and vertical sharpness settings of 10, Super Resolution and Trumotion off were:
- 1080P/60, 1080P/24, 1080i: single pixel wide vertical lines were excellent and crisp, though single pixel wide horizontal lines were slightly soft
- 720P, 480P, 480i: single pixel wide horizontal and vertical lines were both slightly softened
I was able to fully restore the crispness of horizontal lines by increasing the vertical sharpness, though this added edge enhancement. A good compromise setting where EE was minimal and resolution was nearly restored was vertical sharpness at 20. The Super Resolution setting was very subtle, and I ended up leaving it on low.
1080P/60 motion resolution was poor at an estimated 320 lines with Trumotion turned off. However, by setting the Trumotion to user and using 1-2 for de judder and 9-10 for de blur, motion resolution increased to an estimated 650 lines, and both video and film content motion looked very good. Motion resolution increased with gradually higher settings of the de blur control. However, static resolution patterns looked best with de blur set to 2 or less. I believe setting the de blur to 9 or 10 gave a significant increase in definition with program content. De judder at 0 appeared overly choppy with film content, and raising it to 1 or 2 smoothed things out to a level that appeared authentic and natural with little or no Soap Opera Effect.
I observed no image retention from my test patterns. However, like previous OLEDs, leaving the same size measurement window or pattern up for over a minute or two causes it's measured light output to drop. Therefore, for best results the 20 point adjustment should be calibrated pass by pass rather than in real time.
Between careful calibration of the brightness and the 5 IRE increment of the 20 point control, perfect blacks and reproduced (but not always visible depending on content and room lighting, as expected) levels from digital level 17 and up were possible. The 65EG9600 can be made to come out of black very gracefully.
An ugly darkening of the sides of the picture was visible at levels below 30% referenced to 45 fL peak light output with a 2.25 power law gamma. It was slightly noticeable around 25-30%, and gradually became very obvious at 5% and near black. Dark picture content simply faded out within a few inches of each side of the screen. I have done one other 65" OLED and many 55" OLEDs, and I have not seen this flaw to nearly this extent before. The problem was distressingly obvious with darker program material once it was noticed for the first time. Although calibration did not have any direct control over the dark edges, reducing light output to common home theater levels meant that more picture content fell below the point where the edges started getting dark, meaning the flaw was even more noticeable. The 65EG9600 exhibited good uniformity above 30%, though the right side had a visibly slightly warmer white balance with patterns. A photo illustrating the problem is attached.
I viewed a mixture of familiar Blu Ray and 4K Netflix material along with varied DirecTV content in a dark room with a calibrated D65 IdealLume backlight behind the display. The receiver and Darbee were set to pass through video unaltered.
With the things this display does well, there's nothing better: the final round of viewing produced more pop, dimension, and definition than I could ever have hoped for. The compression of bright highlights was eliminated, and motion and depth were both outstanding. Shadow detail came out of black naturally and seemed very well balanced. The image had a very photo realistic quality that is unmatched by any other display technology I've seen. Bright colors and skin tones were stunning; and though the color in general was beautiful, some darker shades, including the DirecTV program guide, were not rendered as accurately.
The dark edges were not visible most of the time, though at times they caught my attention. It did not destroy my enjoyment of the movie, but to someone who knows it’s there and is half looking for it, it can be a huge disappointment. They are most noticeable in dark movie scenes rather than in sports or sitcoms. They were also visible on the DirecTV program guide. I sincerely hope LG addresses this issue, but until they do, be warned: the 65EG9600 is beautiful but flawed.