LG's slice of the relatively small OLED marketplace pie has been pretty sizeable to this point, especially when you consider that practically every knows LG makes the panels for Sony's OLED displays. I can't say for certain that LG will also be making the panels for Vizio when that company enters the OLED game this year, but suffice to say, Vizio entering the scene is bound to do one thing: get both LG and Sony to drop the price of some or all of their OLED TVs in 2020.
Truth be told, the price of OLED has gone down significantly over the past few years, and as of this review it's possible to get an Ultra HD OLED TV from LG for well under $2,000 retail. While two-grand might not be Hisense money, it's not as prohibitively expensive as early OLED displays were.
But, while the price of some OLED TVs has dropped, flagship offerings that rely on the display technology have retained their premium price tags. Case in point: the LG E9 reviewed here. At $3,299.99 MSRP for the 65-inch model (OLED65E9PUA), the E9 isn't cheap by any metric.
Regardless of model or price I think we can all agree that there are few displays in 2020, OLED or not, that are as sexy as any LG given OLED display from a pure design perspective. The E9 is no exception; in fact, aside from LG's rollable OLED and Wallpaper display, it may just be the best-looking display, design-wise, that LG has ever produced.
Its full glass façade extends below the black graphic bezel to form a sort of translucent edge, where one will spot an etched LG OLED logo. While the glass edge serves no real purpose, it's a design touch that I quite like. I also like that the E9 is a near bezel-less design, with the image extending virtually edge-to-edge.
The 65-inch model I received for review measures 57 inches wide by 34.5 inches tall and two inches deep at its bulkiest, which is along its bottom edge. Weight is a manageable 44 pounds, making the E9 among the lighter OLED displays to ever grace my living room. There is a 55-inch variant as well, which obviously will save you on size and weight, not to mention money, with its retail price of $2,299.99.
The E9 is a looker from virtually every angle, except for maybe its rear, but how often do we care about the backside of our displays? The back panel is where you'll find some, but not all, of the E9's input/output options, as LG has chosen to some connections on the side panel. Starting with its back panel, you'll find an analog audio/headphone out, a RS-232C port, an optical digital audio out, an AV in (which splits into component video and stereo RCA via a dongle), an Ethernet jack, a cable antenna (ATSC, Clear QAM), an HDMI input, and two USB inputs. Turning your attention to the left side (when looking at the screen), you'll find three more HDMI inputs, as well as an additional USB input. All of the HDMI ports are HDCP 2.2 compliant, with HDMI 2 featuring ARC.
The E9's panel boasts a native resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, making it a true Ultra HD display, and it supports three flavors of HDR, including Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. It employs an α9 Gen 2 Intelligent Processor for all its processing and upscaling needs.
Gamers, especially PC gamers, will note and no doubt like the presence of NVidia G-Sync on the E9 (which facilitates a variable refresh rate to appropriately match your gaming PC or console for reduced screen tearing), as well as its 1ms response time and 12.9ms input lag. While all of these things will appeal to gamers and power users who may want their E9 to pull double or even triple duty in their homes, for everyday viewers the added gaming prowess will (likely) not be felt or appreciated in everyday viewing scenarios.
What users will notice however is the E9's smart TV features, powered by LG's webOS operating system, which brings a ton of functionality to the E9, especially if you're a cord cutter and streamer like me. For starters, the E9 has both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built in. It also features both Bluetooth (5.0) and Apple AirPlay 2 as standard. The E9 is also WiSA Certified, meaning it can wirelessly transmit surround sound to WiSA compatible loudspeakers, albeit via a separate transmitter, the Axiim Link, which retails for a little over $200. As for built-in streaming Apps, the E9 has virtually all of them, including newcomer Disney+. Apple TV+ is also supported via the E9, though you have to engage it via your smartphone then cast it to the E9 via an AirPlay connection. Rumor has it a native Apple TV App is in the works, but for now it requires a slight workaround.
All of this functionality is controlled with LG's trusty old Magic Remote, which I've grown to like--not love--because it would appear LG isn't getting rid of it anytime soon. For what it is it's fine. It's simple. It fits well in the hand and it does what you need it to. It's just a bit too cute for me, and its simplicity often means an extra step or two is required when doing most anything.
Upon its arrival, the E9 replaced another LG OLED display, the 65-inch B9. The B9 is LG's entry-level OLED offering, so I was keen to see what differences--if any--would be readily apparent between the two. While both OLED displays are really, really, really good looking, the E9 is an absolute head turner when mounted. Even my wife commented on how much she the look of it hanging on the wall.
With the E9 mounted, I set out to measure its out-of-the-box using CalMAN and a bevy of trusty light meters. The E9 ships with its Energy Saving picture profile set as standard. Don't use that profile. It's garbage. I didn't even bother measuring it, since I could see its shortcomings with my naked eye.
Starting instead with LG's "Standard" picture profile, I measured a max brightness (100% white) of roughly 1,000 nits. The grayscale heavily favored blue, though its color accuracy in terms of hue was largely correct, as all colors measured over saturated. Switching to the "Cinema" profile, things improved dramatically. Peak brightness was curbed from roughly 1,000 nits to about 710, though you can adjust this profile for more light output if you choose. The grayscale was near perfect, with an overall Delta E (margin of error) of roughly three or less, with the exception of the 30 and 40 percent test patterns, which measured just over the Delta E threshold of three--still, not bad. Colors were bang on, with the out-of-the-box Delta E resting well below three across the board.
Switching to the "Technicolor Expert" setting, things only got worse again. Similar to the "Standard" profile, the Technicolor profile heavily favored blue in the grayscale measurements and produced wildly oversaturated colors throughout. Ending with the "ISF Bright Room" profile, things calmed down a bit. In truth, the ISF Bright Room was very close to the Cinema preset in its default measurements, though its colors suffered from the same oversaturation as found in the Standard and Technicolor profiles. [[Editor's Note: LG responded to the above observations as follows: "According to Technicolor, the Technicolor Day and Night modes have a white point that is different (x = .300, y = .327) than the widely accepted white point in our movie mode (x = .3127, y = .329). Calling Technicolor mode "less accurate" is a not entirely accurate, unless Andrew's measurements were far off from Technicolor's specifications (x = .300, y = .327).]]
All things considered, my recommendation to folks thinking of purchasing the E9 is this: immediately switch it to its Cinema profile and move on with your life, since the display is as close to calibrated as any reference-caliber display I've encountered in recent memory. The Cinema profile does enable several frame interpolation or smooth motion effects. Turn those off. Not sure why these features are still a thing in 2020, but alas, when choosing the Cinema profile, you will need to go into the advanced menus in order to defeat said annoyances.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...