Late 2016 update
If you were looking for an excuse to buy an OLED TV, here it is.
Starting in late fall 2016, LG dropped the price on its least expensive OLED TV with 4K resolution, the B6 series reviewed here. The 55-inch OLED55B6P was as low at $1,800 while the 65-inch OLED65B6P was $2,800, discounts of up to $700 and $1,200, respectively, compared to prices in early October.
Since then the prices have fluctuated, but they're still a lot less than before. Because of this price drop, and the fact that 2016 OLED TVs like the B6 deliver the best picture quality of any TV I've ever tested, I'm increasing its Value subrating from a 6 to a 7, its overall score from 8.4 (4 stars) to 8.7 (4.5 stars), and awarding it CNET's Editors' Choice Award.
In other words, if you have the money and want a 55-inch or 65-inch TV, buy this one.
In side-by-side comparisons with LCD TVs I tested, there's not much of a contest. The B6, LG's "cheapest" 4K OLED TV, simply looks better in almost every way. Its picture is basically the equal of the more expensive E6 I tested at the same time, so I don't think it's worth paying extra for that TV's superior sound and styling.
It's also better than the 55EG9100 and the EF9500, two OLED TVs from last year that are still available, often at slight to steep discounts. The picture quality gap between the B6 and EF9500 is narrow, but wide enough that I don't advocate buying the older version unless the discount is truly steep. (The newer B6 and E6 models are fully HDR compatible, unlike those older OLEDs.)
So yes, along with the E6, the B6 is the best TV I've ever tested. And yes, many people will think it's too expensive to buy one, even after the price drop. Extremely good LCD TVs, like the Sony XBR-X930D and the Vizio P series, cost much less, and deliver image quality that's good enough for just about anyone.
But if you're okay paying a premium for "the best," the LG B6 OLED is the TV to get. And the fact that the premium is up 25 percent less than before just sweetens the deal.
Editors' note, November 7, 2016: The rating, introduction, headlines and prices in this review (originally published August 23, 2016) have been updated, but the remainder of the review remains unchanged. It was further updated December 19th to reflect fluctuating prices since then.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 55-inch LG OLED55B6P, but this review also applies to the 65-inch OLED65B6P. Both sizes in the series have identical specifications and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
The more expensive OLEDE6P series also received a price drop compared to earlier in the year. I reviewed it at the same time as the B6. It has very similar picture quality as well, with most of the differences noted below. For that reason the two reviews are very similar.
The curved version of the B6, the C6, has the same specifications and features -- the exception being that the C6 has 3D, while the B6 does not. I prefer flat to curved TVs, but the difference is largely aesthetic. Then there's the ultra-expensive G6, with its rotating sound bar stand and available 77-inch size. I didn't test either model, but LG says they all have the same picture quality as the B6 and E6 I did review.
Here's the full lineup, with Amazon pricing current as of November 20, 2016.
LG 2016 4K OLED TVs
|Picture-on-glass with sound bar
|Picture-on-glass with sound bar
There's thin, then there's OLED TV thin
Plenty of LCD TVs are exceedingly slim in profile these days, but few take it to the level of OLED. The top half of the B6 TV, which consists of just the OLED panel itself and enough structure to support it, is pencil thin, just 0.18 inch deep. The bottom half, where the electronics, power supply, inputs and other stuff live, is thicker at just under two inches.
The B6 lacks the striking picture-on-glass design of more expensive 2016 LG OLEDs, but it's still beautiful TV. It's nearly all picture from the front, with just a tiny LG logo. The stand is angular and darker shade of silver, and adds a mass of transparent plastic on the back to create a more floaty look.
I'm guessing most buyers in this price bracket will opt to wall-mount, though, foregoing the stand. Unlike earlier LG OLEDs, which required a special add-on wall bracket, the B6 and other 2016 models can work with a standard VESA wall mount.
The remote is basically the same as last year, and I'm a fan. LG kept its trademark motion control, which allows you to whip around the menus with a responsive cursor rather than a plodding directional keypad. That keypad is still available too, if you want it, along with a slick rubberized scroll wheel. The step-up E6 and G6 TVs enjoy a new, redesigned remote, although it's not much better than this one.
Smart TV is solid, but not the best
There's nothing wrong with LG's Web OS Smart TV system, and I am glad that response times are snappier than last year throughout the menus, but competing systems (with the exception of Vizio) are better. Roku and Android TV
have more apps and a better design, and Samsung has the unique ability to control more of your gear.
4K streaming with Dolby Vision HDR is available from Netflix, Amazon and Vudu, which outpaces the HDR selection of Samsung (which lacks Vudu's HDR) and Vizio (which lacks Amazon's) and matches Sony's. 4K-capable apps include YouTube and Xfinity's lame 4K sampler, formerly exclusive to Samsung, which only works for Comcast subscribers.
Other apps are hit or miss. You get Hulu, Crackle, MLB TV, Plex, Google Play Movies and TV, Spotify and Pandora, for example, but LG's system is missing both HBOs (Go and Now), Showtime (or Anytime), Pluto TV, Sling TV, Watch ESPN, CBS All Access, PBS, PBS Kids and more. Roku and Android TV have all of those, and many more niche apps too, while Samsung's selection is about the same, give or take a few services. (Note that CNET is a division of CBS.)
You also get voice search and a "content store" but none of it is as easy to use, or as comprehensive, as other systems. In the end you're best off, as usual, getting your streams from an external device.
Features and connectivity
Key TV features
|HDR10 and Dolby Vision
OLED is the dark star of the show here. Its basic tech closer to late, lamented plasma than to the LED LCD (SUHD or otherwise) technology used in the vast majority of today's TVs. Where LCD relies on a backlight shining through a liquid crystal panel to create the picture, with OLED and plasma, each individual sub-pixel is responsible for creating illumination. That's why OLED and plasma are known as "emissive" and LED LCD as "transmissive" displays, and a big reason why OLED's picture quality is so good.
New for 2016 LG is claiming 25 percent higher light output and a wider color gamut compared with previous models like the EF9500. Interestingly, it also says all of its new 2016 OLED TVs have the same picture quality. See the picture quality section below for tests of those claims.
The other big improvement over last year is support for both types of HDR video: Dolby Vision and HDR10. Today at least, that means TVs like the B6 can access more HDR TV shows and movies than other devices. On the other hand, the B6 is also the only 2016 4K OLED TV to lack support for 3D sources. If you want a non-curved 2016 OLED with 3D, your cheapest option is the E6.
The only other features difference between the B6 and E6 is the latter's superior sound system.
- 4x HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2
- 3x USB ports
- 1x component video input
- 1x composite video input (shared with component)
- Ethernet (LAN) port
- Optical digital audio output
- RF (antenna) input
- Remote (RS-232) port (minijack)
The selection of connections is top-notch. Unlike many of Samsung's sets, this one actually has an analog video input for legacy (non-HDMI) devices.
There's nothing like OLED, and the B6 and E6 are the best OLED TVs I've tested so far. They improve on the EF9500 from last year with better brightness, wider color gamut and better uniformity in dark areas. They're not perfect, but they're better than any LCD TV I've tested. To be fair, however, my comparison crop didn't include the very best 2016 LCD TVs from Samsung (the KS9800) and Sony (the Z9D), so I can't say for sure whether the B6 is better than them.
If you're looking for differences between the two, this review isn't the place to find them. According to my eyes and measurements both were equally adept with the vast majority of stuff I tested. The B6 did have a bit less input lag for gaming, there were slight differences in video processing, and the E6 was a bit brighter, but I can't say whether that was the result of their screen size differences.