LG's 2016 OLED TVs have the best picture quality you can buy, and in our tests the B6 and E6 performed basically the same. But the B6 is a lot less expensive. Guess which one we like better?
In 2016 LG greatly expanded its selection of world-beating OLED televisions, but not in the way that many potential buyers had hoped.
You see, OLED TVs aren't getting any cheaper. A perfect example is the E6 reviewed here. The image produced by this TV is phenomenal, head-and-shoulders better than any LCD-based television I've tested. So it should be a no-brainer recommendation for high-end TV shoppers who don't want something larger than 65 inches, yes?
No. There is another.
The B6 I reviewed at the same time has pretty much the same picture quality as the E6, for a lot less money (relatively). The E6's advantages over the B6, namely 3D capability, a sleeker picture-on-glass design, better sound courtesy of a speaker bar along the bottom and a redesigned remote, aren't enough to be worth the substantial price difference. I would only recommend it to people who have money to burn, and those lucky folks might as well buy a G6. Perhaps they can put it in their other G6.
The rest of us still have a hard time convincing ourselves that the high price of any OLED TV is worth it. That's not going to change unless LG gets serious about making OLED affordable, which probably won't happen until some other TV maker brings OLED TVs to market. Until then, if you can't wait for prices to fall and you've managed to convince yourself to spring for an OLED TV, make it the B6.
Editors' note: I tested a 65-inch LG E6 and a 55-inch B6 at the same time, and most of what I saw was very similar, so large parts of the two reviews are identical. Differences are noted where appropriate, but the main takeaway is that both have very similar picture quality.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 65-inch LG OLED65E6P, but this review also applies to the 55-inch OLED55E6P. Both have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
For more information on LG's other OLED TVs, see this section of the B6 review.
Not content to let the ultra-slim panel OLED panel speak for itself, in 2016 LG augmented it with what it calls a picture-on-glass design on the E6 and G6 TVs. The OLED module -- the thing that creates the picture -- is applied to a glass back panel, leaving the edge of the TV made of a quarter-inch of glass bordering the black around the image. One result is that the thinnest part of the TV, the upper two thirds above the bulge housing the electronics, inputs and other stuff, is actually slightly thicker (by about 0.06 inches) than the step-down B6. The back of the TV is also subtly patterned.
Further separating the E6 from less expensive versions like the B6 is a horizontal strip of silver lines along the bottom, a grille of sorts, that fronts a more powerful sound system. It adds another touch of style, although personally I prefer the minimalist, more all-picture look of the B6.
Nonetheless, the E6 is one stunning-looking TV, whether you mount it on the wall or use the low-profile stand. Unlike earlier LG OLEDs, which required a special add-on wall bracket, the E6 and other 2016 models can work with a standard VESA wall mount.
The remote is another design departure from other OLEDs. Longer, thinner and silver, it rearranges some of the buttons and trades the slightly bulbous shape for a ribbed bottom. LG kept its trademark motion control, which allows you to whip around the menus with a responsive cursor rather than a plodding directional keypad. That keypad is still available, too, if you want it, along with a slick rubberized scroll wheel. I like the new clicker, although if I had to choose between the two I'd probably opt for the older version because of its better-differentiated buttons and more compact size.
|HDR compatible:||HDR10 and Dolby Vision|
|Smart TV:||Web OS|
|3D capable:||Yes (Passive)|
OLED is the dark star of the show here. Its basic tech is closer to late, lamented plasma than to the LED LCD (SUHD or otherwise) technology used in the vast majority of today's TVs. Where LCD relies on a backlight shining through a liquid crystal panel to create the picture, with OLED and plasma, each individual sub-pixel is responsible for creating illumination. That's why OLED and plasma are known as "emissive" and LED LCD as "transmissive" displays, and a big reason why OLED's picture quality is so good.
New for 2016 LG is claiming 25 percent higher light output and a wider color gamut compared with previous models like the EF9500. Interestingly, it also says all of its new 2016 OLED TVs, including the B6 and E6 I tested, have the same picture quality. In my tests all of those claims were essentially true; see Picture Quality below for details.
The other big improvement over last year is support for both types of HDR video: Dolby Vision and HDR10. Today at least, that means TVs like the E6 can access more HDR TV shows and movies than other devices. The E6 and B6 share the same Web OS Smart TV system and access to the same streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon and Vudu with Dolby Vision HDR. See my B6 review if you'd like more details on that.
Unlike the B6, the E6 can support 3D, technically making it the cheapest (gulp) non-curved 2016 OLED with 3D. LG includes two pairs of passive 3D glasses. Note that I didn't test 3D on this set, but I expect it to work as well as it did on the EF9500, which was the best-performing 3D TV I've ever reviewed.
The only other features difference between the B6 and E6 is the latter's superior sound system.
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.
If you're looking for a reason to pay extra for the E6 over the B6, keep looking. The differences are pretty slim according to my tests, and neither had a clear advantage. In fact, most of the words below are identical in both reviews.
Both 2016 LG OLEDs evinced the same dominance over other TVs in my test lineup, with slightly better overall images than the EF9500 from last year, especially with HDR sources. The E6 did show a slightly brighter image than the B6, but I can't say for sure whether that was due to the size difference between my review samples. The B6, for its part, did a bit better in a couple of video processing tests.
All of these OLEDs beat the best LCDs I've tested. To be fair, however, my comparison crop didn't include the very best 2016 LCD TVs from Samsung (the KS9800) and Sony (the Z9D), so I can't say for sure whether the E6 is better than them.
And in case you're looking for a link to my picture settings, I'm not going to provide them for this review. Check out my calibration and HDR notes for details.
Dim lighting: OLED was king here. All four of the OLED TVs in my lineup produced equally perfect black, compared with the variously lighter shades of black found on the LCD TVs. As usual the difference showed up most in dark scenes, for example in "The Revenant" Chapter 21 where Hugh emerges into the searchers' torchlight. The black bars above and below the image, the shadows among the trees, and Hugh's silhouette all appeared in true black or very dark shadow, and all looked blacker and more realistic than any of the LED LCD sets.
Another big difference between the OLED and LED LCD TVs was OLED's immunity to blooming. The best LCDs, like the ones in my lineup, all use local dimming to improve contrast and deliver deeper black levels, but all suffer to a greater or lesser extent from stray light that leaks from bright areas into dark. It showed up most in onscreen graphical elements, like my Blu-ray player's icons or the subtitles against the lower black bar in Chapter 4 of "The Revenant," but also some normal program material. The KS8000 was the worst while the Vizio and JS95000 were very good, if not perfect. The issue worsened from off-angle and brighter picture settings, including HDR.
Shadow detail isn't OLED's strongest suit, but all of the LGs were still very good in this area after calibration to fix the default settings' crushed blacks. Looking closely at that Chapter 4 scene, I saw very slightly more detail in Hawk's face and clothing in the Samsung LCDs compared with the OLEDs, but nothing that would be evident outside a side-by-side comparison.
Bright lighting: While OLED's black level and contrast advantages are more obvious as the lights dim, they're still evident in normal and even brighter room lighting, delivering more pop at the same light output settings as the LED LCDs on test.
On the other hand the biggest advantage of those LED LCDs is superior light output, giving the Samsungs an advantage in the very brightest of rooms (the Vizio wasn't that much brighter overall than the OLEDs in SDR, and dimmer in HDR). It's easy to overstate this advantage, however, and the simple fact is that any of these TVs is plenty bright for pretty much any indoor lighting situation.
Nonetheless, here's how the TVs measured. As LG promised, the 2016 models are notably brighter than last year's EF9500 in HDR mode, and the E6 was the brightest of the bunch. I'm not sure whether that's a real difference between it and the B6, or due to the fact that I tested different sizes.
|TV||Mode (SDR)||10% window (SDR)||Full screen (SDR)||Mode (HDR)||10% window (HDR)|
|Vizio P65-C1||Vivid||502||572||Calibrated Dark||468|
|LG OLED65E6P||Vivid||441||143||HDR Vivid||710|
|LG OLED55B6P||Vivid||367||115||HDR Vivid||651|
LG says it improved the antireflective screen of its OLEDs this year but I found it tough to tell the difference. All of the OLEDs did a superb job of maintaining a deep black level in a bright room, beating the Samsungs by a hair and the Vizio by more. They also dimmed reflections very well, albeit not quite as well as the KS8000. Overall, however, the OLEDs performed extremely well in a bright room.
Color accuracy: No major complaints here, at least on the review sample LG sent me. The E6 showed highly accurate color according to my measurements, and observations of program material in most areas backed that up. Watching one of my favorite references for skin tones and color in natural lighting, "Tree of Life," the faces remained true in most lighting, the green of the grass and trees looked natural, and white areas like sheets and the cloudy sky looked neutral.
In relatively dim areas, like a fire-lit interior from the fort in "The Revenant," the E6 and B6 did take on a somewhat redder appearance than the other TVs in the lineup. The issue wasn't a big deal in my book, however, overall color accuracy was on par with the best TVs I've tested.
I mention the review sample LG sent me because I suspect it might not represent the E6 TVs available for sale to the public as much as I normally expect. This issue doesn't immediately affect the outcome of this review, and I doubt most viewers will notice, but it's worth mentioning nonetheless. As usual, If you want to be assured of the most accurate color on an LG OLED, I recommend a professional calibration. Check out my calibration and HDR notes for details.
Video processing: The E6 was very good in this category, and LG has alleviated some of the jumpiness I saw last year with some pans and camera movement with film-based material. Looking at some of my go-to 1080p/24 film cadence favorites from "Skyfall" and "I Am Legend," the Off TruMotion settings of the B6 and E6 both showed less judder (in a good way) than did the EF9500 last year, and were more in line with the other TVs.
People sensitive to blurring will likely want a setting with better motion resolution, but unlike the B6, the E6 requires a compromise. At a User setting of zero for De-Judder and 10 for De-Blur, the B6 delivered maximum motion resolution (600 lines) and correct film cadence. But in the same settings the E6 showed an overly juddery effect reminiscent of 2/3 pull-down. The rest of the settings (with the exception of Off) introduced some form of smoothing, or soap opera effect, and none bested that resolution. If you're watching a film-based source on the E6, you should choose Off or De-Judder: 1 (which introduces minimal smoothing).
UPDATE: Input lag in game mode was one area of difference between the two TVs, although it's not as wide of a gap as I originally reported. The B6 measured an impressive 26ms the first time I checked, but subsequent tests (one per day for about a week after this review published) yielded a consistent 37.6ms. I'm going with the repeatable result for the B6, and I have no idea why the original measurement was off. For what it's worth, repeat measurements of the E6 consistently showed 56ms.
Uniformity: Another big OLED advantage over LCD is its superb image when viewed from positions other than the sweet spot directly in front of the screen. Seen from off-angle, the OLEDs maintained black level fidelity and color accuracy much, much better than any of the LED LCDs, all of which washed out in comparison.
Last year the the EF9500 and other OLED TVs suffered uniformity issues in very dark scenes, which showed up as irregular darker edges and vertical banding in the darkest test patterns. LG, as it promised, seems to have largely fixed the issue with the 2016 models. Full-field patterns below 10 percent looked much cleaner than before, with only a slight darkening in the middle of the screen. With program material, like the challenging super-dark intro from Chapter 12 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," the EF9500 and EG9100 showed the creeping darker edges, while the two 2016 models looked did not. I considered this issue minor last year, but it's nice LG fixed it for 2016. Bright-field uniformity was excellent.
HDR and 4K video: The E6 is a superb HDR performer overall, evincing similar advantages to what I saw with standard dynamic range content.
My first test involved sending my lineup of TVs the HDR10 version of "The Revenant," courtesy of the Samsung UBD-K8500 Blu-ray player and the AVPro Connect AC-MX88-UHD, a distribution matrix that allows me to send HDR (and all other) HDMI signals to multiple TVs simultaneously. This is the first opportunity I've had to compare HDR on OLED and LCD HDR TVs side by side in the lab using the same source, and it further reinforced my previous observations: that OLED is just as much a powerhouse with HDR as it is with standard dynamic range, despite its light output deficit to LED LCD.
The nature-scapes in the film looked brilliant in HDR on the E6, the sunlight and skies with more brightness, the clouds with that characteristic extra definition, the natural greens and blues with more realism, and an overall image that's the best I've ever seen in my lab. I watched the B6 and E6 side by side, switching back and forth between standard Blu-ray and the HDR 4K Blu-ray on both, and there was very little difference between the two 2016 OLEDs, with both outdoing the other TVs to a greater or lesser extent.
HDR on the EF9500 looked the next best, but its highlights were a bit dimmer, leading to less pop and brilliance. Shadows also appeared too bright, making certain images appear too washed out, and clouds didn't have the same levels of definition (I'm blaming a wacky EOTF and poor tone-mapping, respectively, but I don't know enough about HDR to say for sure).
I was also surprised to note that both Samsung LCDs, although capable of higher light output in objective tests, didn't have a visible brightness advantage in most scenes. Spot measurements with a handheld light meter confirmed my suspicions: the LCDs were actually dimmer than the OLEDs in highlights by significant margins with "The Revenant," even the light cannon JS9500. I performed the same test with the 4K Blu-ray of "Mad Max: Fury Road" and the results were similar: the B6 and JS9500 were about equal in the highlight I measured, the E6 was the brightest and the KS8000 and EF9500 were also about equal, and quite a bit dimmer than the others, while the Vizio was dimmest.
I can't explain the difference fully, but the main point is that with HDR, LCDs' brightness advantage over OLED with test pattern measurements (detailed above in Bright Lighting) don't necessarily indicate brighter highlights -- one of the main advantages of HDR. The reality varies by display, scene and content. In fact, I'm guessing some of the variations I saw between the two 4K Blu-ray discs was due to metadata: "The Revenant" carries metadata indicating it was mastered on a 1,000-nit display, while "Mad Max"was mastered on a 4,000-nit display. HDR really is the wild west.
Between the two 2016 OLEDs the E6 showed a slight edge in HDR overall. Its highlights were the brightest in the room, and it lacked a minor artifact that plagued the B6 in at least one dark scene. In Chapter 4, while Hugh addresses Hawk at night (19:55), the B6's black level raised slightly above perfection and I even saw slight shadowy fluctuations in the letterbox bars. I'm guessing the issue is restricted to very dark scenes only, but it's relatively subtle, and I couldn't replicate it in other scenes, or with SDR.
I also checked out the Dolby Vision stream of "Mad Max" from Vudu on the E6, comparing it directly to the HDR10 4K Blu-ray disc on the B6 and the other sets, and the differences were minor to nonexistent between the two OLEDs. Colors were a tiny bit redder in cast on the B6, but I didn't measure color in Dolby Vision's color so I can't say which is more accurate.
I can say that on both 2016 OLEDs, the Dolby Vision version delivered slightly brighter highlights with Mad Max than the HDR10 version, according to my measurements. Given the choice between watching Dolby Vision and HDR10 on this TV, I'd choose Dolby for that reason, and the fact that at this point I trust Dolby's certification process to produce the truest picture on this TV.
I also played through a suite of 4K test patterns by Florian Friedrich and the B6 passed them all without issues, and also delivered the full 4K resolution from YouTube.
I appreciate that when the E6 is sent an HDR signal from the Samsung K8500 Blu-ray player, the necessary "HDMI ULTRA HD Deep color" control is set to on and a little pop-up appears that asks you restart the TV so the setting can take effect. Samsung's 2016 TVs automatically handle HDR signals in a similar way (albeit without a popup or requiring a restart), but Sony's and Vizio's require you to know about and manually change the setting yourself.
|Black luminance (0%)||0||Good|
|Peak white luminance (100%)||128||Average|
|Avg. gamma (10-100%)||2.2||Average|
|Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)||1.185||Good|
|Dark gray error (20%)||1.403||Good|
|Bright gray error (70%)||0.882||Good|
|Avg. color error||1.062||Good|
|Avg. saturations error||1.19||Good|
|Avg. luminance error||1.85||Good|
|Avg. color checker error||2.17||Good|
|Percent gamut Wide (DCI/P3)||95||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||600||Average|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||300||Poor|
|Input lag (Game mode)||56||Average|