LG's OLED TVs have established a reputation for two things: amazing picture quality, and a price that's out of reach for most shoppers. The LG B7 OLED (about $1,596) offers a chance to score a pretty great display for hundreds less than previous sets.
Not only does this OLED display boast 4K resolution and HDR support, but it also comes with LG's excellent smart TV features and a remote that lets you use gestures and speech to search for content. Our only complaint is the sound -- so don't forget to pick up a good soundbar while you're buying that new TV.
LG B7 OLED (OLED55B7P) Specs
|Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|HDR||Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG, Technicolor HDR|
|Ports||HDMI 4, USB 3.0|
|Audio||2.2 Channel with Dolby Atmos|
|Smart TV Software||WebOS 3.5|
|Size||48.4 x 27.9 x 1.9 inches|
The LG's design is slim and stylish, measuring 48.4 x 27.9 x 1.9 inches without the stand. The display panel is ringed by a slim aluminum frame around the display's 0.4-inch bezel. It's not quite as elegant as the display-on-glass design LG used for the premium E7 OLED, but it still looks very good.
The TV's slim profile is extra thin on the top half of the panel, measuring just 0.2 inch thick, but it fattens up to nearly 2 inches thick on the bottom half to accommodate the TV's internal components.
The back of the TV cabinet is made of white plastic, which has vents along the top for airflow and audio from the internal speakers.
The stand is a combination of clear plastic and a black plastic with a faux brushed-metal finish. The clear stand gives the impression that the TV is almost floating, and looks quite nice. If you don't want the stand, the set can be wall-mounted with a 300 x 200 millimeter VESA mount. The stand itself measures 22 inches wide and 8.9 inches deep.
On the side of the TV are two HDMI ports (one with ARC) and two USB ports (one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0). Most of the connections on the set are rear-facing, with two additional HDMI ports, a third USB port, an optical digital audio output and a mini jack for other audio.
An RF connector and tuner also means that you can connect an antenna for free over-the-air content, making it a little more friendly to cord-cutters. An Ethernet port lets you use a wired connection, but the TV also has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi for connectivity without the cable clutter.
The 55-inch B7 boasts an OLED panel, 3840 x 2160 resolution and supports Active HDR with Dolby Vision, which is growing among HDR formats. The set will also support HDR10, Technicolor HDR (with a firmware update installed) and HLG for HDR TV broadcast content.
The B7 is about the most affordable OLED on the market, but it certainly makes the most of OLED's strengths. Viewing angles, for example, are so wide I couldn't find an angle where colors skewed weird. Even sitting at a nearly 90 degree angle from the screen, you'll have more problems with the glass-covered display reflecting any surrounding lights than with color shifting.
The LG also does exceptionally well with deep blacks and shadowy scenes, thanks to the deeper blacks offered by the OLED display. It did better with high contrast scenes where bright lights will often cause LCD displays to have unwanted light blooms against dark surroundings. In the movie Arrival, as the research team enters the alien craft, the dark shaft and bright light at the end stayed crisply distinct. LCD sets without the light-emitting qualities of OLED struggled to prevent over-illuminating darker portions of the screen in this same scene.
However, this also translated into loss of details in shadowy images. In Arrival, shots of a black gloved hand were rendered as an inky black blob, while non-OLED sets showed each finger distinctly. In Deadpool, black portions of the anti-hero's costume didn't have the same clear detail we saw on sets like the Sony XBR-65X900E, instead losing them to blackness.
The viewing angles are so wide that I couldn't find an angle where colors skewed weird.
The display also had a slightly better handle on the brightness aspects of HDR, keeping dark environments dark, while illuminated elements actually glowed, like a neon sign in a dimly lit bar in Deadpool. And the glow seemed all the more real due to the dark surroundings.
The LG B7 OLED produced reasonably accurate colors, with a Delta-E rating of 3.45, which is fairly close to LG's more premium E7 OLED (3.2) but falls behind both the TCL Roku TV 55P607 (2.2) and the Sony XBR-65X900E (2.1). The result is pretty good color overall, but it's not quite as vivid as we saw on other sets. Compared side by side with the Sony XBR-65X900E, for example, scenes from Arrival had greener grass and the orange hazard suits were a bit brighter. But the difference was most clearly seen in skin tones, where the faces of actors weren't quite as lifelike in tone.
That's not to say that it looks bad. In Mad Max: Fury Road we saw plenty of bright colors, like red flags and brilliant orange flames trailing behind the insane vehicles. And the blue skies were crystal clear.
The LG B7 OLED also offers a wide color gamut, reproducing 131 percent of the Rec. 709 color space. Most competing TVs do well to approach the 100 percent mark, with the Sony XBR-65X900E (99.99 percent) and the TCL Roku TV 55P607 (99.89 percent) both considered quite good. The B7 exceeding this is fairly impressive.
The LG B7's marketing materials boast of supporting Dolby Atmos sound, and the set is one of the few that will support it natively, thanks to its 2.2 speaker setup.
Unfortunately, the sound quality wasn't that impressive in our testing. When I listened to several music samples, I heard pretty good sound at low to medium volumes, but once I started to really turn things up, the flaws became clear.
The bass flattened considerably despite the TV's built-in woofer. So when you increased the volume it overemphasized the now-flattened bass and the high notes got a little reedy.
The LG B7 supports Dolby Atmos, but the sound quality wasn't that impressive in our testing.
The good news is that adding a quality soundbar or speaker set should improve things a lot, supporting the full breadth of Dolby's premier audio technology and offering better sound in general.
Smart TV Features
LG's smart TVs use WebOS 3.5, the same system seen on the top-tier LG E7 OLED. The interface is as intuitive as ever, with quick navigation and a simple ribbon interface that makes it simple to find your desired apps and switch between video sources.
The accompanying app store offers plenty of favorites, and some come pre-installed, like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. It also supports the popular cord-cutting service Sling TV, and LG throws in up to 6 months of HBO with your TV purchase.
Finally, LG's TV Plus app lets you control the TV from your phone or tablet, and also makes for easy content sharing from your device to the big screen.
The inclusion of LG's Magic Remote is a bonus, with clever touches like a scroll wheel that doubles as the enter button, and motion tracking that makes it easy to navigate.
If you want to make things even simpler, LG's remote has voice controls that let you search for content and adjust the settings with a word or two.
The LG B7 OLED is a smart pick for anyone who wants to get an OLED television without paying the usual astronomical prices that OLED commands. The display offers plenty to love, from vibrant color to pixel-level dimming, and punches above its weight in picture quality. LG pairs this impressive panel with HDR support and one of the better smart TV options available. The accompanying sound left plenty to be desired, but can be easily solved with a soundbar.
If you want better sound, the Sony XBR-65X900E is a smart choice. It offers picture quality that's as close a match as you'll get from an LCD display at this price, along with fuller, richer sound from the built-in speakers. However, if you want the best picture quality for the money, this LG is the set to buy.
Credit: Tom's Guide