LG has released a new generation of 4K OLED displays. Last year, we reviewed LG EG9600 and Panasonic CZ950, both of which were based on the last generation of OLED. This year, LG’s OLEDs should offer better HDR (high dynamic range) and a wider color gamut almost fully compliant with DCI-P3 space. The 2016 OLEDs are also “UHD Premium” certified. In addition, LG has implemented webOS 3.0.
We have received LG E6, which is one the three flat OLED ranges. Compared to the cheaper models it comes equipped with a speaker system developed by Harman Kardon, a premium remote control, and passive 3D. Last year, we awarded the predecessor EG9600 our Reference Award. Can E6 take the picture experience to new heights?
In several of the photos taken for this review the combination of OLED and our camera lens has caused moiré patterns. The colored rainbows seen in the photos are not visible on the screen but instead caused by the camera.
Price and retailers:
Ultra HD (3840x2160) HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) DCI-P3 color gamut UHD Premium certified
Stand (fixed) Wall (VESA 400x200)
89.4 x 146 x 5.6 cm (without stand)
HDMI (4x 2.0 ) USB (3x) Composite (combo) Ethernet 1x CI
If you have never seen an OLED TV in action it may be difficult to realize just how thin these TVs can get. We have seen prototypes that are literally paper-thin and rollable. And this is clear as day with E6 because when we unpacked E6 we noticed how LG has been forced to use glass to stabilize the ultra-thin panel. The glass almost doubles the thickness of the design.
Still, the OLED TV is thinner than an iPhone and looks completely crazy. It is even crazier the way you have to fasten the base because you have to lay down the OLED TV flat to insert the screws. It feels very wrong to take out a 65-inch glass panel and to turn it around. There has to be a better way.
The display panel has a slim bezel, like last year, so the picture area does not extend all the way to the edge. As said before it is a shame that LG has chosen to design the electronics box the way it has but we understand that it is a necessary evil. Still, it is quite big and bulky and it means that if you want to wall mount the TV there is a visible gap of several centimeters behind it.
Part of the reason why E6 is thicker is to accommodate a more powerful speaker system developed by Harman Kardon, which separates E6 from most other flat panel TVs today. The speakers have been implemented a raw-looking grille and the base extends the entire width of the speaker, meaning that your TV furniture needs to be completely level across the 146 centimeter base. If not, the TV will wiggle and the last thing you want to wiggle is a TV that has cost you several thousand dollars.
On the back we found HDMI and USB ports, and LG has made sure that these ports point to the side. Unfortunately the same is not true for antenna, LAN, optical, and legacy analog ports. To be fair LG has lowered the ports into the electronics box somewhat but it is almost inexcusable on such an expensive TV. The analog ports have been reduced to combo ports but why not just get rid of these legacy ports?
Our sample of E6 was very slightly bent around one-third from the panel’s right side, which you may be able to spot in the photo below. A few early owners have reported the same issue and once TVs become this thin it might be hard to avoid completely. This is not specific to LG as other manufacturers have similar issues (with LCDs, too). It is not a major concern and to be honest I did not even notice it before my wife pointed it out.
Unlike most of last year’s OLED TVs, including LG EG9600, E6 is flat. The level of reflections in the panel is about the same but reflections no longer get smudged out from the curve. We prefer these slightly more mirror-like reflections if it means that the panel is flat. Speaking from a general standpoint we think that E6 has fewer reflections than many other TVs, including Sony’s LCD panels.
Since 3D arrived, LG has only used passive 3D technology for its TVs, which means that you need only inexpensive 3D glasses. LG E6 also supports passive 3D and there are two pairs of glasses included in the box.
There are also two remote controls in the box - one "Magic Remote" and a smaller remote. More on these two later.
User experience & features
LG has a one-year head start on most of its competitors when it comes to "Smart TV" as the South Korean company decided to acquire webOS and repurpose it for TVs. This is the third generation of webOS and if you have read some of our earlier LG TV reviews you know that we generally like the simple user interface that webOS offers.
Operating system & smart-TV
webOS was the first TV operating system to implement multi-tasking and it was undoubtedly a fresh breath of air when LG launched the first webOS-powered TVs in 2014. The small animated "cards", each representing a service or an app, are easy to use and understand. The user interface looks largely unchanged on webOS 3.0 - and that it not a bad thing.
"webOS still looks fresh"
webOS 3.0 is still based on the bottom menu with app shortcuts but compared to the previous version LG has removed the multitasking app and replaced it with a "My Channels" app that allows you to add shortcuts to your favorite channels. In some ways it reminds us of what Mozilla/Panasonic has done with "pins" on Firefox OS. The multitask menu can now be found by clicking and holding the center button on the remote.
E6 has a faster processor than the cheaper models in the line-up and combined with webOS 3.0 it makes the user interface feel pretty snappy and smooth. You can race through menus and animations look smooth. However, webOS feels somewhat stressed when you enjoy HDR content. For some reason the menus get noticeably slower when HDR mode is engaged.
The general user interface is minimalistic and intuitive to navigate through. The fastest way to race through the menu is by using the motion-enabled Magic Remote that LG has bundled with its TVs since the advent of webOS. Think of it like the Nintendo Wii-mote. There is a small cursor on the TV that you control by swinging the Magic Remote around in free air. Precision is pretty good although some of the interactive elements on the TVs are a bit too small and easy to miss. If you prefer, you can also control the TV with the help of the left/right/up/down arrow buttons. This also means that you can continue to use your preferred universal remote.
webOS is built on the concept of apps and it has many of the major apps, including Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, HBO Go, and Hulu. However, several notable apps are also missing and, to our knowledge, there is no list of available apps on LG’s sites. webOS in many ways feels like a closed platform that LG and partners dictate.
In general apps load fast and once loaded you can switch between them without any significant delay. Multi-tasking works and to switch you just select the app from the bottom menu. Previously you could also do it from the multi-tasking menu but as said it has been replaced with the "My Channels" list. However, every time you power off the TV you obviously need to load up all apps again. A box like Apple TV on the other hand is always on ready to accommodate your viewing needs.
You can use the remote for basic voice commands but it failed when asking for things like "4K" or "HDR" and it appears that the system at all times expects spoken words instead of abbreviations. The search function has a prominent position in the user interface and you can use it at any time. It can also search through Netflix’s content library and hopefully more apps will start supporting deep search in the future.
Connecting the TV to a USB drive or USB hard drive works as intended and in contrast to Android TV that mixes all types of videos in one big folder, webOS follows a more stringent folder structure that is more intuitive and requires less processing power since it does not have to refresh the entire list every time you want to access your USB device.
When the TV detects activity on one of the HDMI ports it prompts you to switch to this port, which may be fine for most devices but for a dongle like Chromecast that can draw power from a USB port in the TV it will prompt you every time you switch on the TV. It can be solved by connecting Chromecast to an external power outlet instead and admittedly this is mostly just me hair-splitting to find something negative to say about webOS.
webOS 3.0 is undoubtedly one of the best TV operating systems around right now.
Remote control and operation
E6 and the other 2016 OLED TVs differ from the rest of the line-up in that they come bundled with LG’s Premium remote, which is definitely an improvement over the remote that came with last year’s EG9600. The top is made from silver plastic (unfortunately not metal) with buttons that feel sturdy and comfortable to press. The bottom of the remote is made from softer plastic. The remote is heavy enough to sit comfortably in the hand and it is easy to reach the buttons around the scroll wheel.
If you control the TV by using motion gestures you usually only needs to use the buttons placed squarely in the middle. In this instance the rest of the buttons are mostly redundant. LG has backtracked significantly in its minimalistic approach with this year’s remote. The first version of the Magic Remote actually had far fewer buttons and the fewer buttons suited my taste better.
The search button on the remote doubles as the release button for the microphone. To use it you just hold it and speak. LG has also integrated a small scroll wheel in the center button that you can use for different purposes, including to switch channels. The idea is good but the wheel feels a little too rigid making it hard to use. It means that oftentimes you accidentally scroll two clicks. On the other hand it has an "OK" function if you press it so it cannot be too loose either. I do not know how to best approach this but as it stands right now I did not really find the feature useful in everyday use.
LG has also bundled a more minimalistic remote in the box that does not feature motion controls meaning that it cannot control the cursor on the TV. It feels cheaper and in our opinion there is no need for it.
If LG had instead replaced the silver plastic with metal on the big remote it could have had a winner on its hand; a remote that in many ways could match the remotes that Philips sold in its heydays.
TV channels, recording & sound
The TV channel menus look unchanged on webOS 3.0. The same is true for the TV guide. You can navigate through channels by using the scroll wheel but there is also dedicated channel +/- buttons. Like most other TVs it takes a little while to switch between channels. To access the TV guide you must go through the bottom menu, just like you would with apps. Besides that you can add your favorite channels to the menu.
It is possible to time-shift (pause live TV) and record TV channels by connecting a USB hard drive. However, since there is only one TV tuner you cannot record one program while watching another, which is an odd omission on a TV in this price segment. It is possible to add a few minutes before and after recordings to make sure that you get the full TV show.
LG E6 has been gifted with a 2.2 speaker system developed by Harman Kardon and it is most definitely an improvement. The speakers are not as powerful as the ones in for example Sony’s previous high-end TVs with the elephant ear speakers but still quite capable. The bass and bottom could benefit from some more volume but compared to the speakers in last year’s EG960 model E6 is a major improvement.
Personally, I would consider adding a subwoofer to the system via one of the optical ports and use the integrated soundbar-like speaker for the rest. On the other hand many people will likely prefer to match up a TV like E6 with a proper speaker system. Unfortunately the soundbar on E6 cannot be detached, which means that it will stay there even when you want to put the TV on the wall. But again, how many TVs have detachable speakers in the first place?
The TV also offers sound delay settings, meaning that you can add negative and positive milliseconds delay to the sound. We highlight this feature because usually you can only adjust sound delay in one direction. LG is one of the few manufacturers to offer this kind of flexibility.
Like all other TVs, LG E6 offers several different picture modes and most of them are not worth much. The “Standard” mode is far too cold (bluish) and has too many "picture enhancement" options activated that ironically do the exact opposite. Like last year LG has included two ISF profiles that you can use for day and night settings. It is very easy to switch between color modes as there is a dedicated button on the remote that opens a picture menu from where you can switch.
The ISF profile alone is not enough to reach a satisfying result as it has a visibly reddish cast. It is possible to select from other color temperatures but none of them hit the target value. If you opt not to adjust RGB settings on your TV you will probably prefer a slightly too bluish picture over a too reddish picture so in that case you should prefer "Warm 3" over "Warm 2" that we use as a starting point.
When calibrating an OLED display it is important to remember that OLED is, like plasma, a self-illuminating display, meaning that the average picture brightness level can vary, depending on how large a portion of the picture is white (or a bright color in general). The TV has been designed in such a way that maximum power consumption - and therefore brightness - is limited by the power supply. As a consequence the gamma curve will shift dramatically depending on what type of calibration pattern you use to measure. We use a 20% window on a black background.
8K (7680x4320 pixels) – variable frame rate – 8 bit colors - YUV color space – 4:2:0 subsampling – 20.7 Mbps bitrate – AVC - .mp4 file
ISF Expert Dark
MPEG noise reduction
Off / (User 0/7)
Depending on your viewing environment it may be a good idea to use ISF Bright and ISF Dark for day and night viewing, respectively. You can adjust both of them according our suggestions but refrain from adjusting "OLED Light" in the ISF Bright profile. The TV has enough surplus light to work in a very bright living room and since OLED has no issues with black depth in bright viewing settings you can go adjust OLED Light without affecting black levels.
LG E6 is one the first OLED TV to have passed the UHD Premiumcertification. As you may know, the "UHD Premium" certification has separate contrast requirements for LCD and OLED panels, meaning that OLED are not required to meet the same 1000 nits peak brightness value but is instead required to meet far more stringent requirements for black levels. As you may know OLED can control brightness on a pixel level, meaning that you one pixel can reproduce peak brightness while the adjacent reproduces pitch black. As you can see from our measurements E6 reaches 640 nits peak brightness (UHD Premium: minimum 540 nits) and it comes very close to meeting the full DCI-P3 color gamut (UHD Premium: minimum 90% DCI-P3). With that cleared E6 should be capable of delivering a stellar HDR experience.
Last year, there were no UHD Blu-ray players. This year, we finally have UHD Blu-ray players to pair with TVs so we are only now starting to develop an understanding of how TVs perform with a mix of different HDR content. If you are planning to buy one of LG’s 2016 OLEDs you should not cheat yourself for experiencing a full-length movie in glorious 4K and HDR. Note that you need to activate "HDMI Ultra HD Deep Color" in the TV settings for the HDMI port that the UHD Blu-ray player is connected to for 4K HDR to play properly.
This time we had a chance to watch Life of Pi and The Martian (besides our HDR demo clips) played from the Panasonic DMP-UB900 UHD Blu-ray player. Let me just tell you straight away how big of a joy it is to just sit back, relax and forget about all the HDR-related issues that plague LCD panels, including poor local dimming, bleeding etc. None of these issues are present on OLED. You can have bright highlights and deep tones in the same scene without issues. The benefits are particularly pronounced in scenes with a dark sky and bright stars - something that every LCD, even Panasonic DX900, fails to reproduce faithfully or even satisfyingly.
With that being said we did notice some issues, mostly visibly in that the most saturated reds were not quite as intense as on some of the other high-end HDR-capable TVs that we have tested. It has been pointed out by others that LG’s 2016 OLED TVs mistakenly track content encoded in the HDR10 format to the DCI-P3 color coordinates instead of Rec.2020 coordinates, which might explain why we saw this. It means that the TV reproduces somewhat inaccurate colors in HDR10 compared to for example Panasonic DX900. We were not able to confirm that this is indeed the case because we do not have a way to trigger HDR mode yet but it sounds plausible. To be clear, this does not mean that UHD Blu-ray movies look unimpressive but that colors are inaccurate in HDR10 mode. LG says that they are aware of the issue that relates to a HDMI handshake problem between the current UHD Blu-ray players from Panasonic and Samsung and LG’s TVs. It will be fixed in a future software update. Update July 2016: We have learned from other test sites, that tracking of BT.2020 in HDR10 has been corrected in the current firmware making the above a non-issue.
E6 is one of the only TVs to support HDR10 and Dolby Vision – the two relevant HDR formats right now - and watching Dolby Vision content the TV correctly adheres to the Rec.2020 color coordinates and thus steers clear of color accuracy issues. Most movies are currently reproduced in HDR10 but Dolby Vision is available from streaming services such as Netflix and Vudu. Amazon will add Dolby Vision content later this year and the first UHD Blu-ray players with Dolby Vision are rumored to launch in late 2016 or early 2017. Another note: the TV should support VP9 Profile 2, meaning that it should be capable of streaming YouTube in HDR once YouTube starts supporting HDR later this year.
We have on several occasions expressed enthusiasm for HDR, but at the same time criticized TV manufacturers for diluting the HDR term but sticking a HDR logo on almost everything that crawls. As we have discussed to lengths in previous reviews, including our UHD Blu-ray review, it is not enough to just support a wide color gamut if the TV does not have the hardware to reproduce HDR. With OLED it all makes sense. This is how HDR is supposed to look! E6 may not be capable of reaching the same peak brightness level as Panasonic DX900 so it will not reproduce as bright highlights but E6 is capable of controlling brightness on a pixel level, which makes it possible to reproduce highlights and inky blacks in the same frame, which is the essence of HDR. This is high dynamic range. At the same time OLED can reproduce shadow details, which distances it from FALD LCDs like the Panasonic DX900 that crush shadow details and suffer from visible blooming.
If we instead turn of the UHD Blu-ray player and feed the TV with more conventional day-to-day signals in HD, E6 still performs convincingly even though the picture processor is not on par with Panasonic’s new HCX processor. Of course no TV can make a poor signal look great so to fully enjoy any TV you need the best possible signal. This was especially clear when we started watching a football match on LG E6. The typical HD broadcast signal is relatively hard compressed, especially compared to some of the 4K demo clips of football that we have available. This contrast between day-to-day broadcast signals and our pristine 4K clips just goes on to show how much better the picture experience while watching sports can get once more bandwidth becomes available in the distribution link.
With that being said one shortcoming of LG’s OLEDs continues to be motion resolution. OLED displays are per definition ultra-fast but LG is driving them through sample-and-hold, meaning that moving content tends to blur just like it does on LCDs. Unlike LCDs, LG is not using black frame insertion or other mechanisms to reverse that effect. There is physical limitation to how clear moving images can look to the human eye when using sample-and-hold because the picture does not get wiped clean between frames. One way to address this is with aforementioned black frame insertion or by increasing the frame rate that content is produced in. LG has implemented its TruMotion system, which tries to compensate but unfortunately it introduces too many picture artefacts to our liking. This effectively means that motion resolution is limited to about half of the best LCDs displays that employ scanning backlight can do. Motion reproduction on E6 is about comparable to a LCD without scanning backlight engaged (you usually have to activate it manually). The OLED obviously do not have any of the issues with overdrive trailing that plague many LCDs.
When we reviewed LG EG9600 last year we noticed some issues - that were echoed by some owners - which gave rise to criticism, especially noise and banding on dark color tones. With E6 LG has virtually eliminated these issues. On a 5% black pattern it is possible to spot some very weak dark vertical bands and on a 2% black pattern some very slightly brighter corners (be aware that the photo below has been shot with a 4 second exposure time!). Some owners of EG9600 also complained about a yellow color cast on white backgrounds, which has also been drastically reduced on E6. Our sample only had a very faint yellow color cast on full white background that was negligible. In practice, we never noticed these issues. In the photos below we have tried to capture the effects but unfortunately the combination of OLED and our camera lens created moiré patterns so please ignore the rainbow patters. They are caused by the camera.
Like on last year’s EG9600 we noticed some black crush with standard brightness levels and if you increase brightness you introduce some extra noise in near-black tones. For now we probably have to accept that LG OLEDs slightly crush the darkest tones.
We did not experience issues with burn-in or retention. There is a new function to "wash" the panel in the menus that you can manually activate. The procedure takes about an hour. We also understand that the TV runs a compensation process to level out any light level deviations and to reduce the risk of burn-on. We do not intend to stress test a review sample to force burn-in. We can only say that we did not notice any issues whatsoever.
Since E6 offers passive 3D the glasses cost almost nothing so in the box LG has included two pairs. If you sit directly in front of the TV the 3D effect is actually very good and crosstalk is close to being eliminated. However, as soon as you move away from the sweet spot (horizontally and vertically) the 3D effect starts to fade out. It can seem a little ironic that we witness the best 3D picture quality in a time where the TV manufacturers are collectively phasing out 3D technology. Still, with the narrow sweet spot for 3D the practical usefulness of 3D is still be debatable.
We measured input lag to just 34 ms in the Game mode, which makes LG E6 a great choice for game console use and significantly faster than last year’s model. Input lag is higher in the ISF profile so refrain from using this profile for gaming.
One of the strengths of OLED is viewing angles that are more or less perfect. Combined with consistently deep black levels and high brightness you can enjoy the great picture quality from almost any angle in your living room. From extreme angles E6 has a very mild blue tint but compared to LCDs, especially VA LCDs, it is a footnote.
LG’s E6 OLED TV is an impressive display. The company has addressed several of the issues that owners complained about with last year’s TVs, particularly the near-black and near-white issues. E6 has additionally been "UHD Premium" certified and for HDR it excels by being capable of reproducing over 600 nits peak brightness and at the same time inky blacks. Unlike any LCD out there E6 is capable of reproducing a dark night sky full of bright stars. This is the best HDR picture we have seen.
The TV also looks impressive. It is incredibly thin (and flat) and the glass design is unique. The "soundbar" has been nicely integrated and it gives the sound a significant boost.
LG’s webOS 3.0 runs smooth and fast. The “Magic Remote” has been improved as well and although not made from metal it is comfortable to hold and use. webOS offers a decent selection of apps but we still miss some key ones. The webOS platform is still promising.
On the cons list we have the placement of several input ports and besides that we hope that LG will soon be able to get rid of the bulky electronics box. E6 also continues to suffer from some black crush issues and then there is the color tracking issue on HDR10 encoded content. LG has vowed to issue a software update to address the issue. Update July 2016: We have learned from other test sites, that tracking of BT.2020 in HDR10 has been corrected in the current firmware making the above a non-issue.
Still, picture quality surpasses that of all other TVs that we have reviewed, which can be ascribed to the qualities of OLED. It naturally follows that E6 deserves our Reference Award because it sets a new reference for picture quality.
Our dynamic score system has reached its limit and as explained when we introduced it, it has been designed to be dynamic, meaning that we can move the bar (we refer to our backgrounder on the dynamic score system here). We have, as of today, moved the bar for the picture quality score. Since E6 is not a perfect TV - but better than anything in the past - it does not score 100%. Moving the bar effectively means that all previous scores have been adjusted to take the new maximum score for picture quality into account. This affects the picture quality score as well as the total score for all previous reviews. All score tables have automatically been adjusted.
Picture quality is assessed as overall picture quality, including color reproduction, image processing, contrast, motion etc. Features is an evaluation of the built-in functionality such as apps, connector ports, tuners, recording capabilities, decoder formats, and how useful they are, as well as sound quality. User experience is evaluated on the basis of user friendliness, speed, build quality, and day-to-day use of the TV Total score is weighted: 50% Picture quality, 25% Features, 25% User experience. All scores are calculated based on a moving maximum target, defined by what we currently consider the best on market. It is then presented as a percentage. This means that a score will fall over time as new and better TVs set new standards. This allows you to compare scores across years. A score of 100% in a given category means that it is consider the best available product in this category to date.