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LG EL9500 (15EL9500) review: LG EL9500 (15EL9500)

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The Good Incredibly deep black levels; vibrant colours; smooth motion.

The Bad Hugely expensive; tiny screen area; only offers a 720p resolution.

The Bottom Line The 15-inch LG 15EL9500 TV is an impressive showcase for OLED technology, but its sky-high price tag and tiny screen mean it isn't exactly ready for prime time.

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7.5 Overall

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you, the LG 15EL9500 really is just 15 inches in size, yet costs a whopping £1,500 or thereabouts. So what is it about this display that makes LG think you should part with the equivalent of £100 per inch of screen space?

The high price is due to the fact that the TV uses OLED technology instead of the more familiar plasma or LCD technologies found in other flat-screen sets. In fact, this is only the second TV to hit the UK market using this display technology. The other model was the smaller, 11-inch Sony Bravia XEL-1 which was priced at a staggering £3,500, making the HD Ready 15EL9500 seem like a bargain in comparison.

Ole, Ole, OLED!

OLED is an exciting technology because, unlike traditional LCD displays, it doesn't use a backlight. Instead each pixel is individually lit and, consequently, OLED screens are capable of delivering incredibly deep black levels, as well as searingly bright colours. The lack of a backlight also means that OLED displays can be much, much thinner than traditional plasma or LCD screens.

OLED displays have already started to become relatively common in mobile devices. They're found in Samsung's Galaxy S and Google's Nexus One mobile phones, for example. But manufacturers have had problems scaling the technology up to work at larger screen sizes suitable for use in TVs.

One of the reasons for this is that OLED screens use three organic compounds to produce the red, green and blue colours that form the basis of their pictures. The blue compound has a shorter lifespan than the two other colours. This makes larger screens difficult to produce and leads to more faulty screens rolling off the production lines, which in turns pushes up the cost.


It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that this set has such a small screen area. When you first take it out of the box, though, it's the screen's skinniness that really takes your breath away -- it's a mere 3mm deep.

The set is quite stylish too, in a minimalistic sort of way. The bezel is very narrow and it's finished in a brushed, black metal finish. Across the bottom, there's a thin, silver line housing the tiny legs that the screen sits on. The display doesn't have a traditional pedestal stand, but instead uses a folding A-frame design. It's at the rear of this frame that you'll find the various connection sockets.

The graphically rich menus are a piece of cake to use.

As you'd expect from a TV of this size, there aren't that many ports on offer. In fact, all you get is a mini-HDMI socket and a USB port. There isn't even room for a full-size aerial connector. Instead, you have to use an adaptor cable that houses the connections for both the aerial lead and the power socket (the TV uses an external, laptop-style power supply).

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