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LG OLEDB9PUA series review: All of the OLED awesomeness for somewhat less cash

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The Good The LG B9 has spectacular image quality, second only to LG's more-expensive OLED TVs among models we've tested. It delivers perfect black levels, superb uniformity, wide viewing angles, accurate color and a great bright-room picture. Its striking design features a super-slim panel. It adds the HDMI 2.1 features and support for Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2 missing from 2018 versions.

The Bad 2018 OLED TVs perform just as well for less money. It can't get as bright as LCD TVs.

The Bottom Line Once again, LG's entry-level OLED TV delivers flagship-level picture quality.

8.6 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 10
  • Performance 10
  • Value 6

TVs that use OLED screens are so good that anybody who values image quality highly should do their damndest to buy one. The problem is, they're really expensive -- as much as twice the price of a solid-performing TV with a LCD screen. So yeah, stepping up to OLED is an investment, but if you want the best picture, it's worth it.

The nice thing is that all newer OLEDs have very similar -- read: spectacular -- picture quality, so you can get the least-expensive one and not have to worry about missing much. Every year the "cheapest" OLED series is LG's "B" lineup, and for 2019 that's the B9 series reviewed here.

Its picture has all of that high-contrast OLED goodness, beating any non-OLED TV I've tested, including models from Samsung and Vizio. In my side-by-side comparisons between B9 and the more-expensive C9 OLED TV it was tough to see any difference. The B9 was slightly dimmer and it did a bit better job cleaning up some lower-quality video, but that's it. In my book the two are so close that it's not worth the price difference for the C9 (currently around $200 for the 65-inch size).

The main question for OLED TV shoppers right now is when the B9 will come down even further in price. I think you should wait until at least Black Friday time in mid-November. In the meantime, the 2018 B8 OLED TV is an even better bargain and remains my go-to recommendation -- for now.

Get to know the B9

  • It's only available in 55- and 65-inch sizes. If you want something bigger you'll have to pay a lot more for a 77-inch OLED or go with a 75-inch LCD.
  • Currently the 65-inch B9 costs $500 more than the equivalent B8 from 2018, while $300 separates the 55-inch sizes. Their image quality is very similar. Until the B9 gets a price cut, 2018's B8 is still the best value.
  • LG's 2019 OLED TVs, including the B9, add a few extras that the B8 is missing, namely Alexa built-in, Apple AirPlay 2 and more HDMI 2.1 extras, including eARC and Auto Game mode and Variable Refresh rate. Otherwise they're basically the same.
  • The only differences between the two 2019 TVs, the B9 and the C9, are slightly different stand designs and LG's processing. Right now, the C9 is $200 more expensive in both sizes. As I mentioned above, I don't think the C9's slight image quality advantage is worth paying that much extra for. 
  • OLED display technology is fundamentally different from the LED LCD technology used in the vast majority of today's TVs, including Samsung's QLED models.
  • The best LCD TVs I've reviewed so far, the Samsung Q9 QLED and the Vizio PQ-65F1, scored a "9" in image quality. At times they were brighter in HDR than the OLEDs, but otherwise the OLEDs' images were superior in almost every way.
  • All OLED TVs are more subject to both temporary and permanent image retention, aka burn-in, than LCD TVs. We at CNET don't consider burn-in a reason for most people to avoid buying an OLED TV, however. Check out our guide to OLED burn-in for more.
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The look of OLED

Compared to LCD TVs the OLED panel itself is amazingly thin when seen from the side, about a quarter-inch deep. A bulge at the bottom spoils that profile somewhat by jutting out another 1.75 inches. That bulge houses the inputs, power supply, speakers and other depth-eating TV components.

From the front there's less than a half-inch of black frame around the picture itself to the top and sides. Then there's a bit more below, but no trace of silver, no "LG" or any other logo at all. This is TV design at its most minimalist.

The B9's stand has a narrower width than the C9's and sticks out in front of the TV about two inches further on the 65-inch models. Both are angled and minimalist and, honestly, perfectly fine.

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LG channels apps, Alexa, Google and Apple

LG's WebOS menu system feels nice and snappy, but it's basically unchanged from last year. It still lacks the innovative extras and app-based setup of Samsung's Tizen system and falls well short of the app coverage of Roku TV or Sony's Android TV. If you want more apps, your best bet is to get an external streamer, although only two, the Apple TV 4K and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, can support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to take full advantage of the B9's capabilities. Meanwhile LG's apps for Netflix, Amazon and Vudu all support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, so using the TV's built-in apps gets you the highest-quality video and audio from those services, no external streamer required.

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The remote tracks the motion of your hand and wrist to whip quickly around the screen, something that's particularly helpful when signing into apps or searching using an onscreen keyboard. The scroll wheel is also great for moving through apps, like those seemingly infinite thumbnail rows on Netflix and Amazon.

LG's 2019 TVs are the first devices to build in both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The main mic button invokes Google Assistant while a long-press the Amazon button gets you Alexa. Both can do all the usual Assistant stuff, including control smart home devices, answer questions and respond via a voice coming out of the TV's speakers (yep, both voices). Basic stuff like "What's the weather?" works as you'd expect from either assistant, complete with onscreen feedback. 

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I didn't dive too deep into either one, but it felt in general like Google Assistant was better integrated than Alexa. I was able to perform searches for movies and TV with Google but the same queries from Alexa directed me to enable skills and link my LG ThinQ account. When I tried doing so I got as far as the step asking Alexa to discover devices, but she couldn't find the B9.

The B9 also works with Apple's AirPlay 2 system, and just like on the Samsung Q70, it worked fine. I was able to fire up my iPhone to share photos and video to the B9's screen from the Photos app. Screen mirroring also worked as expected and was able to play videos on the TV, and control them from the phone, via Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and YouTube TV for example (note that Netflix doesn't work with AirPlay on any device). Mirroring my Mac screen also worked too; the TV showed up as an option on my Mac's AirPlay menu and I was able to stream video in a browser window. It was a bit choppy at times, however. Apple fans: note that unlike Samsung TVs these LG's don't have the Apple TV app yet, but Apple says it's coming "in the future" to LG and other platforms.

Full-fledged features and connections

Key TV features

Display technology OLED
LED backlight N/A
Resolution 4K
HDR compatible HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Smart TV WebOS
Remote Motion

The feature-packed B9 includes just about everything that matters in a modern TV. LG says the new A9 Gen 2 chip -- included on the C9 but not on the B9 -- has a "deep learning algorithm" that, among other claims, better adjusts the picture for room lighting. In my tests I didn't see any real improvement from "AI" stuff, however.

All of LG's 2019 OLED models include the latest version of the HDMI standard: 2.1. That means their HDMI ports can handle 4K at 120fps, support enhanced audio return channel (eARC) as well as two gamer-friendly extras: variable refresh rate (VRR) and automatic low latency mode (ALLM, or auto game mode). Check out HDMI 2.1: What you need to know for details. I didn't test any of these features yet for this review.

Speaking of VRR, the B9 will miss out on LG's support for the Nvidia G-Sync standard -- a feature reserved for the C9 and E9 series only. If that matters to you, hardcore gamer, then you'll probably want a C9 instead.

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The selection of connections is top-notch. Unlike many of Samsung's sets, this one actually has an analog video input for legacy (non-HDMI) devices, although it no longer supports analog component video. New for 2019 there's a dedicated headphone/analog audio output and WISA wireless audio support.

  • Four HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.1, HDCP 2.2
  • Three USB ports
  • Composite video/audio input
  • Optical digital audio output
  • Analog audio 3.5mm headphone output
  • RF (antenna) input
  • RS-232 port (minijack, for service only)
  • Ethernet (LAN) port

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