LG E6 OLED Review
By Chris Heinonen on
The LG E6 is the best looking TV I’ve ever reviewed. It’s not perfect, but it comes closer than anything else I’ve used to date. There’s no reason to bore you with a long introduction or exciting story: if you can afford it and you want the best TV out there today, the LG E6 OLED is it. It’s compatible with both HDR formats on the market today, covers almost the entire color gamut current content uses, and looks better in action than anything you’ve ever seen.
The only thing keeping me from replacing my Panasonic VT60 plasma with the LG E6 OLED is price. $4,000 for a 55” and $6,000 for a 65” is a lot of money for a TV. What makes the LG E6 worth that is a package that other TVs can’t compete with: absolute blacks, wide viewing angles, cutting edge styling, HDR and WCG support, and even 3D that looks better than the competition. The LG E6 TV is a cut above the competition.
The LG OLED lineup this year includes the G6, E6, C6, and B6 models. The G6 is the flagship, but offers the same visual performance of the E6. The processor and panel are the same, while the G6 offers improved audio and design elements. The B6 is similar to the E6 and G6, but drops the support for 3D. It also has a different SoC powering it, which leads to a worse image. I haven’t use it yet myself, but calibrators I trust say the E6 is worth the step-up from the B6 because of the improved image quality.
The E6 is a striking piece of gear. OLED enables the top 2/3rds of the display to be remarkably thin, while the lower 1/3rd includes the inputs and VESA mount. This actually means the TV will mount higher up than other TVs where the VESA holes are in the center of the screen, so be aware of this. You might need to reposition your wall mount if you already have one for the E6 to be at the right height. The rear finish is an attractive metallic blue, though most people will never see it.
HDR is Amazing
Last year I reviewed the Samsung JS9000 which is one of the first TVs that supports HDR and Wide Color Gamut. Using some sample clips from Samsung of Life of Pi and Exodus, you can see highlights that were not possible before. The wider color gamut was noticeable, but the other flaws of the display made the HDR impact less than it could be. On the E6, these same clips are just breathtaking. The ability to have bright, vivid highlights with pure black backgrounds lead to images that jump off the screen. Those same clips, watched by myself and others, now show what HDR can do. A simple demo loop from Sony watched on the E6 shows what is going to be possible going forward. No matter who I showed the E6 to, from videophiles to people that couldn’t care, they always came away impressed by what HDR and WCG can do.
Streaming HDR content also shows this promise. Marco Polo on Netflix might only be a so-so series, but the opening images provide plenty of eye candy. The flickering flames in a dark room jump off the screen. The bright sunrise causes you to need to almost squint and adjust your vision to make out the shadow details on the same screen. Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle features even more of these shots. The flames of a car explosion flicker in vivid orange-red hues that HDTV cannot replicate, while a neon sign in the nighttime is bright and vivid against a dark background. Screenshots cannot do justice to what the LG E6 looks like in person.
The E6 includes a simulated HDR mode, that takes the highlights of standard content and pushes them to HDR brightness levels. While this doesn’t work perfectly, it shows what HDR could do even on older titles. Voldemort and his army attacking Hogwarts in Harry Potter has magical blasts that jump off the screen in a way they can’t without HDR. While you can overuse HDR, when used right it makes things look fantastic.
Watching programs in HDR and WCG is a revelation. Going between the HDR version and the SDR version, you feel as though you are missing something. Daylight scenes actually are bright like daylight. Highlights have a quality you can’t typically find. It provides an image that you can’t help but notice the difference in. As more content becomes available in HDR and WCG, the LG E6 is only going to perform better.
Improved Image Quality
Missing in action for the most part are the “black flames” that plagued dark shadow situations on the prior OLED displays. Certain scenes of The Man in the High Castle would show some small issues here, but some of that might be compression artifacts. Watching the final Harry Potter, which shows this issue on the EG9100, it is either absent, or I cannot notice it as I did before. LG did a great job by going back and fixing the main flaw I had with the prior OLED sets. The longer I spent with the E6, the more the complete absence of these flames was clear. Perhaps they show up sometimes, but before they happened all the time and that is no longer the case.
Even if you just watch 1080p streaming content, the LG E6 offers a big improvement over other displays. My VT60 plasma is still one of the best displays out there, with 40,000:1 contrast ratios and great motion quality. Watching Mr. Robot on Amazon Instant Video, the E6 looks much better than the VT60. Blacks are far improved, and low light shadows are clearer. The VT60 always has had some slight issues with skin tones but those are completely absent on the E6. While most UltraHD sets don’t look any better than a 1080p set with non-UltraHD content, the E6 looks better with everything.
The E6 is at a clear advantage over LCDs when it comes to groups of people. The viewing angles are wide, perfect for a group of people. Sports and video games offer mixed performance compared to LCDs. 34ms of input lag and almost instant response times mean no smearing or ghosting of fast moving images. What the E6 doesn’t have is a black frame insertion mode to improve motion resolution. OLEDs, like all sample-and-hold displays, don’t offer the same motion resolution of a CRT or Plasma. Black frame insertion helps with this, but OLED isn’t there yet. Even without this, the instant response time makes it a great display for sports and gaming in my opinion.
Useful Streaming Services
The LG E6 comes with WebOS 3.0 for its internal streaming apps. Compared to WebOS in the EG9100, WebOS is fast and responsive. Apps load as quick as any external streaming box. You can search across many services and record favorites that are tagged on the screen. If you’re watching The Americans and Mr Robot on Amazon Instant Video along with Better Call Saul on Netflix, they can all be added to the quick access menu.
Currently the Netflix app supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision streaming, while Amazon supports HDR10 but has promised Dolby Vision support. Both of these served up UHD and HDR content with no issues. The Vudu app supports UHD as well with Dolby Vision support. Watching Pacific Rim in UHD HDR it offered the best image I’ve seen with this film to date. I still think the whole plot is a bit cheesy, but I can’t argue with how amazing the image looks and sounds. It even streams in Dolby Atmos, but you can’t get that soundtrack out of the E6 currently.
If you want to stream HDR content from Vudu with Atmos, the Nvidia Shield will do that later in June 2016 with the 3.2 firmware update. The apps are responsive with the recent interfaces on them. The main issue is with the Amazon app, which often brings up the HD version of titles instead of the UHD/HDR ones. If you’re using the favorites option with the LG, the search is always the HD version. You need to search inside of the Amazon app to find the UHD and HDR ones for the best experience.
For calibrations we use CalMAN 2016 from SpectraCal with an i1Pro2 and C6 colorimeters. For HDTV we target the Rec.709 color gamut and the Bt.1886 gamma function. For HDR we use the ST. 2084 EOTF (Electo-optical Transfer Function) and the DCI/P3 color gamut.
The contrast ratio, just like with the EG9100, is infinite. Blacks measure nothing with my meters, while a 10% white field in HDR content is capable of 640 cd/m2. While not the 1,000 cd/m2 that the high-end Samsung SUHD LCDs can hit, the LG has much darker blacks than those displays. This lets the LG E6 easily quality for the UltraHD Premium specification for black and white levels.
Pre-calibration the ISF Expert modes on the E6 are good. The average Grayscale dE2000 is below 2.0, and all the color measurements have an average below 3.0. Post calibration this numbers fall down even more, with an average grayscale dE2000 below 0.7 and color errors at 2.0 or lower.
Measuring the color gamut coverage, we see 95% coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut and 69% coverage of the Rec.2020 gamut. For all the details on calibration, including HDR calibration information, see the full Calibration section.
For calibration, I use the ISF Expert modes. Using the BT.1886 gamma preset and the Warm2 color preset, the LG E6 tracks close to the standard HDTV targets. The grayscale shifts a little bit towards red at the high end, but the gamma tracks very close to our BT.1886 target. Colors track well, with saturations, luminances, and the color checker turning in respectable numbers. It easily covers 100% of the Rec.709 color gamut, and even without a calibration it looks good.
Post-calibration these issues mostly disappear. The grayscale is accurate while still having an accurate gamma and infinite contrast ratios. All the color saturation errors fall below a dE2000 of 3.0 meaning they’re invisible in motion, and only a couple of the color checker colors fall above the 3.0 target. Luminances are accurate aside from the dark readings, which might be attributed to the i1Pro being used for these and not being perfect at dark readings.
The LG looks almost perfect after calibration in the ISF Expert modes without needing to use the 20-point adjustments. Objectively and subjectively, it has an image that you cannot fault.
This is the first TV we’ve measured and calibrated using HDR. Using recommendations from SpectraCal for CalMAN, we measured and calibrated using the HDR10 standard. Unfortunately the LG E6 doesn’t have controls that make the white balance easy to calibrate. It offers a number of points that seem to correspond to target light output levels, but adjusting those doesn’t work well. LG could correct this by adding a 2-point white balance control for HDR in the future and that would likely fix all the problems we see here.
Before calibration, the HDR gamma tracks the EOTF closely. The white balance is off a bit, but the gamma is good. We measure color accuracy by using DCI/P3 saturation sweeps inside of a Rec.2020 container. While current UHD TVs only reach the DCI gamut, future displays might be better in this aspect so everything uses the Rec.2020 container to be prepared.
Pre-calibration the saturation points are a bit off target, with incorrect luminances and hues. Most of the saturation dE2000 error levels are over 3.0, making them visible. We see with a 10% window we can hit 640 cd/m2 but that drops down to 135 cd/m2 with a 100% window. We also cover 95% of the DCI/P3 gamut and 69% of the Rec.2020 color gamuts.
Post-calibration these dE2000 measurements for saturations are far improved. Most of them are now below the 3.0 level, and they track much closer to the saturation targets on the CIE chart. Looking at the color comparators, you can see they are more accurate than before. The peak luminance chart shows large errors at the top, likely due to the inability of the LG to go to 1,000 cd/m2. When HDR10 content has a peak light level (in this case, 1,000 cd/m2) that the display cannot reach, the display has to map that content down to what the display can do. This is up to each vendor. So LG might take HDR10 content that is supposed to be 650 cd/m2 and map that to 550 cd/m2, and then put the 650-1000 range content into the 550-650 range. This tone mapping is what would cause these luminance charts to be incorrect, as it isn’t hitting the expected light levels.
In reality, this difference might be close to invisible to you. These peak levels are supposed to represent a small area of the image, and noticing the difference between 650 and 1000 might be impossible to do. But this is what is causing the errors in this chart, and they’ll always be there until there is a defined standard for how HDR10 content should roll off.
As mentioned earlier, the input lag inside of game mode is 34ms, which is acceptable for gaming. Outside of game mode this can jump past 150ms, making it a poor choice for gaming. If you are going to game, I’d advise using a particular input for it so you don’t need to swap back and forth.
|White Level||36 ftL||38 ftL|
|Black Level||0.0000 ftL||0.0000 ftL|
|Average Grayscale dE2000||1.98||0.69|
|Average Saturations dE2000||2.12||1.26|
|Average Color Checker dE2000||2.69||2.02|
|Summary||The LG E6 is very good before calibration and almost perfect after. The HDR10 mode needs a 2-point grayscale to really be perfect, but it is reasonable without it. Hopefully this will be added and it will improve the grayscale, but overall the E6 offers nearly perfect measurements and image quality.|
There are a few little quibbles with the LG E6 OLED at this point. On panning shots in The Man in the High Castle, you can see some judder present. This is likely 24p content sent as 60p content though Amazon causing it, as we don’t see this judder with 24p Blu-ray films. The LG E6 has no issues with judder on 60p or 24p content, but does with 24p content inside of a 60p signal. Since Amazon and Netflix send 24p content as 60p, this means you’ll get judder on films you stream from them.
Finally, the remote isn’t back-lit. Since OLED has perfect blacks, it can lead to a dark room when watching a movie at night. The more time I spent with the E6, the more I got annoyed that the remote on a $6,000 TV was not back-lit. Perhaps everyone using this will have a universal remote (like the back-lit Harmony Elite I use), but it still should be required to have one included.
LG E6 OLED Conclusions
I can say that I’ve never seen a better TV than the LG E6 OLED. The shadow crush issue is fixed, and the support for both current HDR standards means it works with all content you can get today. The updated design makes mounting it much easier than before and the updated WebOS is improved. Wide viewing angles make it great for a group, and the video performance just cannot be touched.
There might be a better TV out there, but I haven’t seen it or talked to anyone that has. If you want the best TV out there today, you should get the LG E6. As I write this I’m still trying to figure out a way to keep it myself so I don’t have to go back to my old plasma. The E6 is that good, and makes everything else look a bit dull by comparison.
The best looking TV we have ever used. HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, wide color gamut, infinite contrast ratios, wide viewing angles, and fantastic design make for a TV that everyone will want.
The remote could be backlit, and black frame insertion to improve motion would be nice.
Despite a couple of small flaws, the LG E6 OLED is the best TV we have used to date, and what we would pick for ourselves if we needed a TV today.