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LG 55EM9600 OLED HDTV First Impressions Review
Display Size & Technology
What sets the LG 55EM9600 apart and is creating so much buzz in the OLED display technology. Heretofore, all the HD TVs on the market have been either plasma or LCD (the latter having either CCFL or LED backlighting). Traditionally, plasma has been praised for it's deep black levels, while LCDs are generally thinner, lighter, and brighter. OLED is supposed to combine the strengths of both. OLED panels do not require backlighting; each pixel produces its own light when charged with electricity. Plasmas are similar in that respect, but OLEDs can be made almost wafer thin, while plasma require more electronics in the back. Also, plasmas can't get near the brightness of a decent LCD, while OLEDs can. Combine those deep blacks and bright whites and you've got an amazing contrast ratio. That's the key benefit that has people so excited.
If we're going to get really nerdy about the display technology of the LG 55EM9600, we should also talk about the 4-Color Pixels and Color Refiner that LG is debuting. In addition to the standard red, green, and blue pixels, they've added a white pixel. LG promises that this results in a "more accurate color depiction" (read original). This should be taken with a large grain of salt, however, as some writers have pointed out. There is already a very clear standard for how color is displayed for HD pictures (it's called rec. 709, and we measure it in every TV we review). TVs don't need more than the red, green, and blue pixels to produce the color gamut. Sharp has done something similar when they added a yellow pixel to the Aquos series, vaunting a better color performance that was debunked by TV expert and TelevisionInfo.com friend Dr. Ray Soniera.
Formats & Resolution
Though LG is exploring the new UD (ultra definition) resolution with some models, but the LG 55EM9600 has the more familiar 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080 at 60fps), a spec shared with nearly every high-end TV on the market.
Brightness, Blacks and Contrast Ratio
There are no solid specs right now for the brightness, black level, or contrast ratio. On some LG channels they've claimed an "infinite contrast ratio," which is a bit misleading. Contrast ratio is calculated simply by taking the brightness level and dividing it by the black level. Because it's possible to make the black level zero, any number divided by zero equals zero, or "infinite." Calling it infinite gives no indication of how bright the screen can get.
From our limited interaction with the model on the show floor, the contrast ratio is actually quite good – bordering on amazing. The blacks are incredibly dark, nearly indistinguishable from the bezel. The whites pop with remarkable brilliance and clarity. It's really something to see.
LG is claiming that the LG 55EM9600 features 4-Color Pixels and Color Refiner technologies. As we stated at the top of the page, this is of dubious value. We can't make any final judgements until we test it for ourselves, but we've heard this song before. The standards for what color should look like are clearly defined and do not require anything beyond the standard red, green, and blue channels. It's possible that the colors we saw on the LG 55EM9600 looked a little oversaturated, but we're not trusting our eyes when the TV isn't calibrated and the ambient light is less than ideal.