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The LG 2016 B6 is a great balance between cost, mature OLED technology that's future proofed, and industry leading visuals
on May 26, 2016
As a big follower of OLED technology for several years now, I was almost 100% sure that I was going to buy the EF9500, which I almost did during the Holiday season of 2015. But like any electronic, the most important question to ask is "will it worth it to just wait until next year?". This question kept me curious to wait until CES 2016 just to see if LG had anything really worthy up their sleeves. Turned out that LG did have something worthwhile to show to the electronic world with the new 2016 signature line of OLED TVs. Although nothing would make me happier than having a 65" OLED of my own right now, patience for the right TV has kept me from making an $10,000 investment in Oled a few years ago when the technology was just taking baby steps. Patience is also what's going to get me a great deal on a 2016 Oled this holiday season. Along with the rest of the 2016 signature Oleds (G6, E6, B6, C6 all share the same video processor and specs), the B6 Oled is on the "lower end" and a great combination between 2016 Oled technology and cost. These are the Oleds you've been waiting for, and if you were on the fence on just buying an older model for a steep discount, allow me to explain why I feel its worth the wait to buy a 2016 Oled instead.
I have looked into specs for both the 2016 and the 2015 lineup, and it all boils down to one simple question. For the price (above $2,999), am I getting a TV that is future proof? When the EF9500 was released, no one can deny that it wasn't amazing to look at. Compared to the EG9600, it got rid of the curved screen, and it included all three HDMI 2.0a & HDCP2.2 ports that would allow for UHD HDR content through HDMI (not just apps) which made me feel like it was future proofed at the time. Then the price dropped from $6,999 to $5,999, to $4,999, (I've even seen the 65EG9600 for $3500 on Ebay as a daily deal) so I was tempted to buy and came close. So why should you wait to buy the B6 instead? Simply put, the Oled technology in the EF9500 (also EG9600) will not be able to keep up with UHD players and UHD content hitting the market in the coming years in terms of ability, and in terms of the level of maturity in the OLED technology itself.
To further elaborate on the subject, as another reviewer for the G6 2016 Oled did, as another reviewer did I'd like to refer to a great article from tvevaluate.com with did have some great comparisons between the 2015 (EF9500,EG9600) and 2016 lineup (G6, E6, B6, C6) to help explain what the EF9500 can't do well. I also have added some information on HDR, HDMI 20a, and brightness comparisons that I found out through research as well. KEEP IN MIND THE B6 IS THE ONLY MODEL WITHOUT 3D IF THAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU.
1) The 2016 Oled lineup features ColorPrime Pro technology allowing them to display 99% of the DCI-P3 expanded range of colors for better true to cinema visuals. The EF9500 and EG9600 models only cover less than 90% of DCI-P3 which affects their abilities to truly recreate cinema type visuals and colors. Blacks are still on par and similar on all models.
2) The 2016 Signature models meet the criteria for “Ultra HD Premium” which requires at least a 540 nits peak brightness and less than 0.0005 nits black level. On the other hand on some calibration tests the EF9500 and EG9600 could be pushed to the upper 370 nit level range, but still not on par with the 2016 Lineup. Brightness levels may not come close to some 2015-2016 TV models from other reputable brands such as Sony and Samsung which can reach close to 1000 Nits or even more. However, LG's Oled's ability to decrease black levels in individual pixels to virtually off levels while displaying rich and vibrant color images creates enough of an image contrast to create superb HDR images and video. Athough HDR was added by a firmware upgrade on the EF9500 and EG9600 models, the increase in brightness in the 2016 signature lineup and wider DCI-P3 color range of 99% changes HDR and UHD video on an LG OLED from a Gimmick, to a industry competitor.
3) Speaking of HDR and keeping up with future standards, one of the reasons I held out on OLEDs each year was the eventual introduction of HDMI 2.0a & HDCP2.2. Originally, 4K content was possible with the older HDMI 1.4 but only at 24-30fps. HDMI 2.0 then came out and has become a standard on all 4K TV's which allowed 4k content to be played seamlessly at 50-60fps. Then out of nowhere, this thing called HDMI 2.0a and HDCP2.2 becomes a standard, and older (and still very decent) 4K TV's became outdated. What is HDMI 2.0a? It's the ability for UHD content to display content in HDR. HDCP2.2 is the copy prevention technology standard moving forward to prevent illegal copying of 4k content. If your TV doesn't have HDCP2.2 embedded into it's connection, (even if it had the ability to) your content will not play to its full potential. As stated before, through a firmware update the 2015 EG9600 was able to play HDR content but only through the third party applications like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc. The HDMI ports were all 2.0 and not HDCP 2.2 which meant future UHD players with the ability to play content in HDR would not work through HDMI. The EF9500 came out later in the year and actually included all three HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 ports. The 2016 Lineup includes a total of 3 (the more expensive G6 model has 4) HDMI ports all of which are HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 compliant. The difference with the 2016 models is that they don't just display HDR, they execute it well. Simply having the HDMI port doesn't mean anything is the design and ability of the TV can't showcase the content however. This is where the G6 and all the other 2016 OLEDs impress. The combination of the 2016 Signature lineup's increased brightness and color range, creates a new level of vibrancy and authenticity to UHD video content. These improved capabilities have also made the 2016 signature lineup compliant with HDR (High Dynamic Range), HDR10 (2015 EF/EG are not compliant), and Dolby Vision formats (2015 EF/EG are not compliant). These are all important standards of UHD that Netflix, Amazon, and Movie Studios are incorporating into movies and TV shows that are available now, and in the future. Gizmondo wrote a great article on the comparison and extremely improved visuals of Netflix's Daredevil with HDR (Dolby Vision to be exact) on a 2016 Oled when compared to the 4k TV he already had, which just means I'm going to rewatch both seasons when I do get the TV :-)
4) Lastly, from looking up many forums and researching Oleds the past few years, the issue of Oled technology maturity have been an issue for previous models. This has been apparent for 2015 models with issues such as vignetting, banding, blobs of color on screen, edge lighting issues, simply not working at all, and more. Though these issues have been worked on as the newer EF9500 sets hit the market (serial numbers starting with 505 were first I believe, up to 511 or 512 by now), they are still issues that one has to consider when buying this TV. Because the 2016 are a year older, LG had another year to refine these issues (which they did). Though the percentage is low on people who had these issues, those that did required moderate to extensive repairs which is not a problem when under warranty, but a problem once you're out of the initial 1 year period.
Between the comparison of 2015 and the 2016 lineup, and keeping in mind the progress made in the last few years to elevate 4K content and UHD content, I realized that a shift was made in the entertainment industry from not only focusing on acquiring a higher resolution (4K), but to display video content to near flawless levels. The goal being to bring you elevated visuals straight from the imagination of movie makers, directors, etc. in a manner that balances fluidity, contrast, and color. This is where HDR comes in. And why is HDR so important? Because HDR is like a composer that pushes every visual component of your TV to play gorgeous and fluid visuals. It brings out light where it needs it, pushes black where it should be, and coordinates the color spectrum in an image with an end result that can be described as "balanced, natural, and life-like". The future of TV is not just about the higher resolution, but about what's behind that resolution. The downfall with the EF9500 (and the EG9600 for that matter) is that what it visually displays, it does it well, but where it matters in regards to UHD HDR, HDR10, and Dolby Vision, "well" won't cut it in the near future. Though the improved color range is noticeable if you pay attention to the details, the improved brightness levels of the 2016 models really give UHD HDR content justice. Brightness levels are critical to the future of HDR, and though not as bright as other Samsung, Vixio, Sony models etc., the 2016 models with up to 600 nits of brightness and their ability to turn individual pixels completely off, are truly the first LG models that are competitive in terms of HDR quality. For those still on the fence on whether or not to go 2016, I suggest finding an in store display 65G6 from one of the available locations on LG's website (I went to a Best Buy in Los Angeles) and see the comparison for yourself. To me, these differences were apparent, and if the content is HDR capable the distinctions were even larger.
So what in particular is different with the B6 compared to the other models? Along with the C6 Curved version, the B6 includes a 40W sound system, and is Flat in shape. Unlike the higher end, more expensive G6 and E6 models which have a distinguishable "screen on glass" look which is only a few credit cards deep, the B6 and C6 have backing more comparable to the 2015 models and 1.9 inches deep. So why go with a B6 model instead? the real benefit is cost. Currently a 65 in MSRP is $5,999 for a B6 model, the same as the higher up E6 65 in model on sale (regular MSRP is $6,999). If last years trends continue onto this year, we can shortly expect a $1,000 price cut on the current price, and up to a $2,000 cut by christmas dropping this model between the 4-5k price which would be a great value. Since all the 2016 models have the same video specs, paying 1k or more just for the outer aesthetic look of the TV may not be worth it for some. And as I mentioned with the E6 model, the upper end G6 and E6 models put those with dedicated surround sound systems and audiophiles in a bit of a bind. This is because the E6 and G6 models have a built in sound bar by Harmon which is attached and can’t be removed from the TV. For me, I already have a sound bar under where my TV is mounted, so an additional soundbar under the TV itself would look tacky I would imagine. The featured pics are of the G6 which show the soundbar, also the pics show what the B6 video display looks like since its the same tech. This lack of a built in soundbar in my opinion is a benefit for the B6 and C6 models. Lastly, unlike the rest of the models, the B6 IS THE ONLY MODEL WITHOUT 3D CAPABILITIES. This may not be a deal breaker for many since 3D is a dying trend, but for me with many 3D movies, this news was a deal breaker for me and had to default to the E6 since I’m not a fan of curved.
This year, LG was able to break the standard of what a home OLED TV can really do. I am choosing the 65E6 OLED TV for my household because for the price, you're not just paying for a TV that looks good, you want a TV that hits a homerun for everything. Because in that case, there are plenty of television larger than 65" and cheaper than $3,000 that can make current Bluray HD content look "good to great". But unlike the transition from DVD to Bluray, Bluray to UHD standards now go above simply reaching a desired resolution and are now focusing on how that content is being visually displayed. Every 4K television before 2015 attempted a guess at what the future of TV would hold, but very few were future-proofed for what is yet to come in the next five years. So take it from someone who has been price checking and following Oleds for years, the 2016 LG OLED lineup successfully achieves the perfect balance between, OLED maturity, technological ability, and price that I and many others have long been waiting for. So if the price hasn't stopped you and you want the very best, look no further than the 2016 OLED lineup.
UPDATE 04/13/16- I have recently come across a CNET article which goes over HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR more in depth, and I want to share some information for those on the fence of buying a new TV of any brand in the next coming months. When the signature line was announced, LG stated that their 2016 Oled Signature line was both HDR10 and Dolby Vision capable, this I thought had more to do with capability rather than actual hardware. As the CNET article explained, VIZIO and LG are the only major TV brands at this time to support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR on their newer TV's (Vizio will add HDR10 through a firmware update). HOWEVER, Samsung and Sony have pledged support for only HDR10. Unlike HDR10 which can be downloaded through a firmware update, Dolby Vision is only capable in TV's that have their Dolby Vision Chip imbedded inside the processor of the TV. Which means that is your TV isn't Dolby Vision capable from the beginning, it won't ever be. At this time, all 4k HDR Blurays are HDR10 and all UHD 4K Players are also HDR10, with neither supporting Dolby Vision at this time. However, most of the Dolby Vision content is coming from online streaming from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Vudu to name a few. As the CNET article also explains, Dolby Vision and HDR10 act differently on how the video content will be displayed in HDR, with some studios, directors, and producers showing a preference for Dolby Vision for some content, and HDR10 for other content. From what Netflix and Amazon have explained, shows that are HDR capable may be available in either HDR format which means that your TV or the streaming service will choose whichever HDR format looks best on your TV, or whichever they are only capable of. If a show was made in Dolby Vision and not in HDR 10 however, you're out of luck if its not an LG or Vizio. From what the Article explained HDR10 is open format which means more user friendly, but the HDR settings are static and don't change throughout the Movie/TV show whereas Dolby Vision might take some more time to work with, but it has the ability to adjust HDR from frame to frame which sounds great. Dolby Vision is also heavily backed by Google if that means something. Either way, HDR10 and Dolby Vision are just becoming known by most people, but it's important for those on the fence for either an LG, Vizio, Samsung, Sony, or other to know what their TV is actually capable of before buying and make sure they understand what their TV is, or isn't capable of.