LG upgrades its 'entry-level' OLED TV for 2018 – and the results are sensational
- True blacks, vibrant colours and wide viewing angles
- The most comprehensive HDR format support (HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Technicolor)
- Low input lag
- Thin vertical streaks in very dark scenes
- HDR not as impactful as full-array local dimming LCD TVs
- Small risk of permanent burn-in with prolonged display of static logos
Hold onto your credit cards: the LG B8 is the new ‘entry-level’ OLED TV from the South Korean brand. With a starting price of £1,799 for the 55in model, it’s still by no means cheap, but with the latest OLED technology on show – not to mention an upgraded image processor – this big-screen TV looks set to deliver a spectacle to remember.
LG OLED65B8 review: What you need to know
Whereas LG’s higher-ranking C8, E8, G8 and W8 series TVs feature the company’s new top-end Alpha 9 processor, the B8 uses an Alpha 7 processor which is essentially a modified version of the chipset found on last year’s LG B7, C7, E7, G7 and W7 OLEDs.
While this means the 65B8 doesn’t feature LG’s most advanced picture processing technologies, the television still manages to pack the latest WRGB OLED panel from LG Display, multi-HDR support for the open-standard HDR10, broadcast-friendly HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), Dolby Vision and Technicolor HDR formats.
It’s also equipped with LG’s wonderfully intuitive and responsive WebOS Smart TV platform (dubbed “ThinQ AI” this year) which now has Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa compatibility.
LG OLED65B8 review: Price & competition
Two screen sizes are available, namely the £1,799 55in LG OLED55B8 and the £2,499 65in OLED65B8 which we’re reviewing here.
The 65in B8 undercuts similarly sized 2018 OLED rivals from other TV brands, such as the Panasonic TX-65FZ802B (£2999) and Sony KD-65AF8 (£3299). The closest competition comes from LG’s own 65C8, which can be bought for only £300 more at £2799.
LG OLED65B8 review: Design & connections
The design of the LG OLED65B8 is almost identical to 2017’s C7 OLED, with a slim black bezel, and a central sloped stand bearing an LG OLED inscription.
The connections are located at the left rear of the display, including four HDMI inputs, all of which are full-bandwidth HDMI 2.0b ports with HDCP 2.2 compliance, so you can plug your Xbox One X, PS4 Pro, Apple TV 4K box and 4K Blu-ray player to any of these four HDMI connections, and enjoy 4K HDR content at higher frame rate, chroma or bit depth without any issues.
The bundled grey Magic Remote works brilliantly. The mouse pointer function makes it supremely easy to navigate the WebOS front end, and switching between apps and sources is a joy rather than the button-clicking chore it prove to be on rival TVs.
LG OLED65B8: Picture quality & gaming responsiveness
The LG B8 uses LG’s latest WRGB OLED panel, and the improvements are clear to see. Uniformity is generally better than last year’s OLED panels, and when asked to display brighter full-field grey slides, our 65B8 review sample didn’t exhibit any colour tinting, banding or dirty screen effect at all. This means you can watch sports such as football or ice hockey without seeing screen uniformity issues that may spoil your viewing experience.
In very dark scenes, no consumer OLED TV is free of thin vertical streaks, but our LG B8 review unit is one of the cleanest we’ve seen in this regard. We barely noticed any vertical banding in the movie Arrival which is very challenging for OLED-based TVs, because the whole movie is quite dark, and many scenes have large amounts of deep shadow detail.
As ever, though, OLED has more than its fair share of plus points. As every pixel can be turned on and off independently of each other – the display technology is self-emissive after all – the LG B8 is capable of delivering true blacks, vibrant colours and wide viewing angles which other TVs can only dream of. OLED’s pixel-level light control also allows HDR content to sparkle with pop and depth, since bright highlights can coexist beside inky blacks without blooming artefacts.
A further benefit is that the LG’s panel can be calibrated to an extremely accurate level, allowing memory colours – colours that we instinctively know to be lifelike or otherwise, such as skin tones – to look stunningly realistic and natural.
Motion-wise, the LG OLED65B8 offers both frame interpolation and black frame insertion (BFI) to combat motion blur. However, we don’t think many viewers will be able to tolerate the flicker that comes with the latter, which can become tiring in brighter scenes with the 50Hz broadcast content we get in the UK and Europe.
On the video processing front, avid video buffs will be a tad disappointed to find that the LG B8 doesn’t appear to have the decontouring filter available on LG OLEDs with Alpha 9 processor such as the C8, E8, G8 and W8. This is probably because the B8 series is only using an upgraded Alpha 7 chipset.
LG OLED65B8: HDR & gaming responsiveness
When it comes to HDR, peak brightness on our review sample measured 670cd/m2 on a 10% window after calibration to D65 white point, and 135cd/m2 on an all-white screen. DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage was a near-perfect 99%, just as we have come to expect from WRGB OLED panels over the past couple of years.
Input lag measured 21ms in both 1080p SDR and 4K HDR [Game] modes on the LG B8, making it one of the most responsive TVs for playing games on the market. Because LG’s 2017 OLEDs have been accused of being too dark for playing HDR games that are mastered to 10,000 nits, the firm has not only revised its 2018 tone-curve to look brighter at baseline, but also made dynamic tone-mapping available in Game mode that can brighten 10,000-nit games even further.
LG OLED65B8 review: Verdict
The LG B8 offers some welcome extra features over LG’s 2017 OLEDs, but in our opinion, the number one reason to buy the 2018 model over the 2017 one is for the increased brightness in HDR Game Mode.
The result is that HDR games from your Xbox One X or PS4 Pro console have never looked better on OLED – and the comprehensive HDR format support means that HDR movies and TV look fantastic, too.
The price is the real clincher, however. If you’ve been tempted by OLED’s charms, then the OLED65B8 is the perfect meeting point between price, performance and big-screen HDR thrills.