We don’t review many TVs here at t-break and the biggest reason for that is that there are no hardcore TV geeks in our team to evaluate the technical aspects of big displays. But once in a while a product shows up that fascinates you and that’s exactly what LG’s 55″ Curved OLED TV did for me when I saw it at GITEX earlier this year. And thus, I did not hesitate when LG asked me if I wanted to have one delivered to me and test it out for a week.
I was at the office when the LG team delivered and set up the television at my home- replacing my 42” Plasma. When I got back home, the first thing that struck me was how the 55” TV didn’t seem to occupy much more space on the cabinet than the 42” it replaced. But then I turned it on and was instantly taken aback by how thin the bezels around it are. Unlike my older display which adds quite a chunk around the display, the LG 55EA9800 barely has a bezel- one that measures just 11mm on the sides. It feels as though the bezel’s primary job is to prevent the picture from popping out of the screen.
And it’s not just the size bezels that are razor thin on the LG 55EA9800. OLED has the advantage of being super thin and flexible and LG takes full advantage of that with a screen that is just 4mm in depth. You have to see it to believe it. To put things in perspective the iPhone 5S is almost twice as thick. Obviously, the whole TV is not as thin as you need some depth for the logic board as well as all the connectors and LG has smartly placed all of that towards the bottom-centre so it doesn’t show.
For input, you have four HDMI ports of which one is MHL compliant to let you connect your mobile phone to the TV. You also have one connection for analog input- although why anyone would want to use that is beyond me. A digital audio output port is also present on the LG 55EA9800 to connect it to a sound bar or such- which I recommend you use. The built-in speakers on the LG 55EA9800 are present on the acrylic base and although they look good, they don’t sound great. The flat enclosure does not allow much space for a bigger speaker which in turn, barely produces any bass out of the speakers.
On the connectivity side, you have three USB ports- one of them being USB3. You can very easily connect a thumb drive or a regular portable hard drive to the LG 55EA9800 and watch movies of it. A better option would be to connect it to your network and LG offers you the option to connect the TV wired or wirelessly. If you can, I would recommend hosting a PLEX Server on your network and then streaming your movies or shows through that on to the LG 55EA9800. Alternatively, the TV also supports Miracast to wirelessly stream media directly from your phone.
Being a “Smart TV” the LG 55EA9800 comes with a set of apps already installed on the unit as well as the ability to download new apps. YouTube and popular social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are already present while regional channels such as Al Jazeera are also available to stream. LG also adds some demo content such as pictures and movies along with 3D content to showcase the TV.
The TV is controlled by LG’s magic remote and included with the 55EA9800 is the latest version. Other than having buttons and a scroll wheel, the magic remote also acts like an “air mouse” moving the pointer in the direction you move your hands. It’s not the easiest way to control a TV but it works. You can also change some settings on the TV through a sliding panel present below the LG logo in front of the TV. Again, this was not the easiest to use.
For my testing, I used the Apple TV connected to the LG 55EA9800 and watched World War Z, Modern Family and a few previews. To say that the picture quality looked stunning is an under-statement. LG has used 4 color pixel technology that adds a white sub-pixel to the conventional red, green and blue (RGB)pixels. This allows for better contrast as independently lighted pixels control their own luminance. Here is a video that shows the preview of the latest Hunger Games playing on the LG 55EA9800- although you might not be able to fully appreciate the quality of the picture, the video will show you how good viewing angles are.
Right off the bat, blacks looked better than any LED TV I have seen. In fact, the reason I’ve stuck to Plasmas is because of that but I see no reason not to move to OLED if this LG is anything to go by. The one strange thing I noticed was that the brightness levels would sometimes dip a bit- this was more noticeable in the rating section of movie previews with a green background. According to Digital Trends, this happens when the white pixels are driven full-blast and non-stop for a minute, and this is actually a a protection mechanism designed to keep the OLED cells from being damaged.
As far as the curved aspect of the TV is concerned, I honestly didn’t feel that it brought anything substantial to the viewing experience. I say this because after the unit was picked back up by LG and I went back to my flat screen TV, I did not miss the curved experience of the screen. Yes, it looks nice- really nice, but I would say that the design team had more of a say in making the TV curved more than anyone else. Coming to the price, expect to pay a premium for the exclusive bragging rights of owning a curved OLED display. At AED 35,000, the LG 55AE9800 is definitely targeted towards the lifestyles of the rich and famous. And you know that there are plenty in the region.