Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) continues to be the most promising HDTV technology out there, and LG continues to be one of the few companies working on it. The LG 65EC9700 we tested and the 77EG9700 are follow-ups to the 55-inch 55EC9300, our Editors’ Choice for high-end HDTVs last year. They’re 65- and 77-inch curved OLED HDTVs with one important upgrade besides the size: they’re now an ultra-high-definition (UHD, or 4K) televisions instead of 1080p. They’re sharp, come with loads of features, and thanks to its OLED panel produce a very impressive picture. The only issue is the price tag: You’ll have to drop $11,999.99 to get the 65-inch HDTV in your home, and the 77-inch model is more than twice that at $24,999.99.
Once again, LG has made a very visually striking HDTV, due only in part to the 65EC9700’s curved screen. The panel itself is almost completely bezel-free, with only a half-inch black border around the lit part of the screen that is completely seamless with the rest of it, and framed by a very thin silver-colored band along the edge. The screen sits on a large, near-semicircular metal base that holds it steady. All ports sit near the center of the back of the screen, where it thickens to hold the HDTV’s electronics and connect to the base. An HDMI port and two USB ports face left on the back, and three additional HDMI ports, a component video input, optical and 3.5mm analog audio outputs, and a cable/antenna connection face downward, behind a magnetically attached plate.
The included Magic Remote is nearly identical to the motion-sensing remotes included in LG’s other webOS-powered HDTVs. It’s a curved controller that fits comfortably in the hand, and looks vaguely like a glossy black egg. The remote functions like an air mouse, controlling an on-screen pointer by waving it in different directions. It also has a conventional direction pad that sits directly under the thumb, with a scroll wheel in the center that doubles as an OK button. The pad is flanked by Power, Back, Home, TV, and Voice buttons. Four color buttons and Volume Up/Down, Channel Up/Down, Input, 3D, and Mute controls sit below it. A microphone built into the top of the remote lets you control the HDTV with voice commands.
LG’s webOS interface is unchanged from last year, with the same menu design and features as the 55EC9300 and other connected LG televisions. WebOS supports all of the common streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, and Vudu out of the box, and the LG Store offers dozens of additional free and pay apps, games, and on-demand video. There’s also live television integration, either through a direct cable or antenna connection or with a set-top box; if you use a set-top box, the screen can automatically control it with a built-in IR blaster. The HDTV supports media playback from USB or networked storage, and supports wireless display mirroring with WiDi and Miracast.
Like the previous LG curved OLED HDTVs, the 65EC9700 supports passive 3D, and includes four pairs of glasses. Because the glasses use filters and not shutters, they’re inexpensive (additional pairs can be purchased at $29.99 for a four-pack) and don’t require batteries. The HDTV also supports a Dual Play mode with the use of optional Dual Play gaming glasses ($19.99 for two pairs). This mode separates split-screen views into two separate pictures using the screen’s 3D filter, so one player can see one picture while the other can see a different picture.
The last two OLED HDTVs we tested showed perfectly dark black levels for the often-claimed, nearly mythical “infinite” contrast ratio. That streak continues with the 65EC9700. We test HDTVs with a Klein K-10A colorimeter, DVDO AVLab test pattern generator, SpectraCal’s CalMAN 5 software, and DisplayMate test patterns. After a basic dark room calibration, the screen showed absolutely no luminance with a contrast tunnel test pattern, producing a perfect black that only OLED displays have so far been able to produce. With a flat white screen provided over a computer connection at 1080p, the screen produced a disappointing 82.78 cd/m2 peak brightness, similar to plasma HDTV with its screen completely lit and slightly dimmer than the 55EC9300. However, our 4K-capable signal generator using a similar test pattern got the screen to reach a far better 292.01 cd/m2, closer to a fully lit LED LCD HDTV. Regardless of the connection and source, the perfect black level ensures superlative contrast.