LG has refined its OLED TV family for 2017 – and the OLED55B7V doesn't put a pixel wrong
- Perfect blacks and infinite contrast
- Supports four different HDR formats
- Extremely low latency for gaming
- Motion hiccups on interlaced video
- Limited peak brightness for HDR
- Dolby Atmos decoder doesn't support True HD
LG’s 2016 family of OLED TVs were already a formidable bunch, but 2017’s update to the range hasn’t seen the company resting on its laurels. The ability of OLED panel technology to provide true blacks, rich colours and wide viewing angles makes it a superb fit for delivering cinematic thrills in the home, and based on what we’ve seen during our testing of the new LG OLED55B7V, LG has taken the technology to new heights.
LG OLED55B7V review: What you need to know
The OLED55B7V is a new 55in model within the brand’s B7 series. The 4K HDR OLED panel promises the usual perfect blacks alongside eye-popping colour accuracy and contrast, and LG has made sure that every major HDR format is supported, which is great for future-proofing. Notably, input lag is astonishingly low – deep-pocketed gamers looking for the ultimate image quality are in luck.
The OLED55B7V is also one of the few TVs on the market to natively support Dolby’s Atmos surround-sound decoding. While many high-end TVs deliver underwhelming audio, not least due to their razor-thin designs, LG’s managed to accommodate a speaker array that provides a surprisingly full-bodied, refined performance. In tandem with improved overall image quality, the OLED55B7V is a deserved award winner.
LG OLED55B7V review: Price and competition
At this end of the market, there is no shortage of high-end TVs to choose from, but the LG stands head and shoulders above the competition – its stunning image quality goes hand-in-hand with ultra-low input lag, which makes it perfect for movies and games alike.
Philips’s superb 55POS901F is probably its closest competitor, but its higher input lag and the absence of Dolby Vision support see it fall behind its LG-branded competitor. Still, if the choice comes down to whichever is the most affordable of the two, the Philips is still well worth considering.
LG OLED55B7V review: Design, features and connectivity
The OLED55B7V can only be described as stunningly slender. Admittedly, you’re unlikely to spend much time viewing this TV from the side, but if you do you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise – while the lower half bulges out to accommodate the speaker housing, the upper half is millimetres thick and skimmed with silver brushed metal. One addition for the 2017 models is the addition of a brushed metal crescent stand, which looks great, and now bears a subtle LG OLED inscription.
Connectivity hits the mark nicely. Four HDMI sockets with HDR and HDCP 2.2 compatibility are found on the left side of the display, and LG has included 802.11ac Wi-Fi for access to all the usual video streaming services. There is also WiDi and Miracast support for wirelessly streaming video from compatible laptops, PCs or mobile devices.
For such a thin chassis, the acoustic performance of the TV is impressive. Dialogue comes through loud and clear, and there’s even a decent amount of bass. There’s a Dolby Atmos decoder on board, too, but it’s a tad disappointing that it doesn’t process True HD streams from 4K Blu-rays.
LG OLED55B7V review: Picture performance
LG’s engineers have done some sterling work in improving the OLED55B7V’s image quality. The first area of improvement is in the handling of above-black detailing, and the increased clarity in the darker greys means that dark scenes in heavily-compressed video (for example certain episodes from Games of Thrones on Sky) no longer look fizzy and overly pixellated. It’s enough to put LG on a level footing with Philips’ superb 55POS901F, and brings impressive levels of stability and clarity to movies and games alike.
LG has also improved things at the brighter end of the picture. Self-illuminating displays, such as those based on OLED technology, need to employ some sort of ABL (automatic brightness limiter) circuitry to dim the whole screen as more pixels get brighter to protect components from overheating. However, LG has tweaked the OLED55B7’s ABL algorithm to reduce the level of dimming required, even as the picture gets brighter – this means that images look noticeably brighter compared to last year’s B6 models.
As long as you select the right picture mode, colours are more accurate out of the box than 2016 models, too. LG’s done a great job of providing supremely vibrant yet realistic hues, and without needing to perform further adjustments or resort to third-party calibration tools. The only shortcoming we noticed was that the LG B7’s processing of interlaced video – especially fast-action sports broadcast – can be a bit hit and miss: we strongly recommend sending a progressive video signal (e.g. 720p, 1080p or 2160p) to the TV whenever possible.
LG OLED55B7V review: HDR performance
The LG 55B7V supports four different HDR formats, namely HDR10 (the most common open HDR standard currently used in Ultra HD Blu-ray and 4K streaming), HLG (short for Hybrid Log-Gamma, the broadcast HDR standard), Dolby Vision and Technicolor HDR – although the last of these will only be available through a software update at a later date.
When it came to HDR (high dynamic range) performance, peak brightness on the LG topped out at 750cd/m2 in its most video-accurate HDR picture preset. That’s nowhere near as bright as some, but unlike rival TVs that prioritise high screen brightness over detail in HDR modes, the OLED55B7V tends to preserve detail in the brightest parts of the image. That does mean that HDR pictures look dimmer than competing LED LCDs, but LG’s Active HDR technology does a great job of levelling the playing field by continuously optimising the brightness levels to best suit the onscreen images.
LG OLED55B7V review: Gaming performance
The 2017 LG OLEDs could very well be the new king of gaming TVs, if the OLED55B7V is anything to go by. By relabelling an HDMI input as [PC], we measured SDR (standard dynamic range) input lag to be a fabulously responsive 21ms. Better still, full 4:4:4 chroma is supported, which guarantees the best colour fidelity, and you can take full advantage of fully calibrated colour accuracy by using the ISF Expert modes. As the same low latency is available in HDR Game mode too, the LG strides straight to the front of the pack for TV-based gaming.
LG OLED55B7V review: Verdict
As hard as it is to believe, LG has actually found ways to improve the already awesome picture quality on last year’s OLEDs. At £3,000, the OLED55B7V is by no means cheap, but if you’re looking for the best all-around performance there is, then this the TV you’ve been looking for. In fact, the B7V only has one true competitor on its hands, and it’s another LG TV – unless you have your heart set on the B7V’s silver-edged bezel and crescent-shaped stand, the C7V’s (read our full review here) squared-off stand and all-black bezel are the more practical option.