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TVs that use OLED screens are so excellent that anybody who values image quality highly must do their damndest to get one. The problem is, they’re really expensive — around twice the cost of a solid-performing TV with a LCD screen. So yeah, upgrading to OLED can be an investment, but if you need the very best picture, it’s worthwhile. Black Friday sale will give you huge discount so that you can buy your fav products fast.
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The nice thing is that newer OLEDs have virtually identical — read: spectacular — display quality, to get the least-expensive one without having to worry about missing much. Each year the “cheapest” OLED series is LG’s “B” lineup, and for 2019 that is the B9 series reviewed here.
Its picture has all that high-contrast OLED goodness, beating any non-OLED TV I’ve tested, including models from Samsung and Vizio. In my own side-by-side comparisons between B9 and the more-expensive C9 OLED TV it had been tough to see any difference. The B9 was slightly dimmer and it did a lttle bit better job clearing up some lower-quality video, but that’s it. In my own book both are so close that it is not worth the purchase price difference for the C9 — generally at least $200, although I’d still recommend the B9 regardless if it only cost $100 significantly less than the C9.
Given its place as the least-expensive current OLED TV, and OLED’s place as the display quality king, the LG B9 earns CNET’s Editors’ Choice award as the very best high-end TV of 2019.
The appearance of OLED
In comparison to LCD TVs the OLED panel itself is amazingly thin when seen from the medial side, in regards to a quarter-inch deep. A bulge in the bottom spoils that profile somewhat by jutting out another 1.75 inches. That bulge houses the inputs, power, speakers and other depth-eating TV components.
From leading there’s significantly less than a half-inch of black frame around the picture itself to the most notable and sides. Then there’s somewhat more below, but no trace of silver, no “LG” or any other logo at all. That is TV design at its most minimalist.
The B9’s stand includes a narrower width compared to the C9’s and shines in front of it about two inches further on the 65-inch models. Both are angled and minimalist and, honestly, properly fine.
LG channels apps, Alexa, Google and Apple
LG’s WebOS menu system feels nice and snappy, but it’s basically unchanged from this past year. It still lacks the ground breaking extras and app-based setup of Samsung’s Tizen system and falls well short of the iphone app coverage of Roku TV or Sony’s Android TV. If you wish more apps, your very best guess is to get an external streamer, although only two, the Apple TV 4K and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, can support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to take full good thing about the B9’s capabilities. Meanwhile LG’s software for Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon and Vudu all support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, so using the TV’s built-in software gets you the highest-quality video and audio tracks from those services, no external streamer required.
The remote tracks the motion of your hand and wrist to whip quickly around the screen, something that’s particularly helpful when signing into programs or searching using an onscreen keyboard. The scroll wheel can be ideal for moving through apps, like those seemingly infinite thumbnail rows on Netflix and Amazon.
LG’s 2019 TVs will be the first devices to build in both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The primary mic button invokes Google Assistant while a long-press the Amazon button gets you Alexa. Both can do all of the usual Assistant stuff, including control smart home devices, answer questions and respond with a voice appearing out of the TV’s speakers (yep, both voices). Basic things like “What’s the elements?” works as you’d expect from either assistant, filled with onscreen feedback.
I didn’t dive too deep into each one, but it felt on the whole like Google Assistant was better integrated than Alexa. I could perform looks for movies and TV with Google however the same queries from Alexa directed me to permit skills and link my LG ThinQ account. When I tried doing this I got so far as the step asking Alexa to find devices, but she couldn’t find the B9.
The B9 also works together with Apple’s AirPlay 2 system, and exactly like on the Samsung Q70, it worked fine. I could turn up my iPhone to talk about photographs and video to the B9’s screen from the Photos app. Screen mirroring also worked needlessly to say and could play videos on it, and control them from the telephone, via Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube and YouTube TV for instance (remember that Netflix fails with AirPlay on any device). Mirroring my Mac screen also worked too; it showed up as a choice on my Mac’s AirPlay menu and I could stream video in a browser window. It had been a little choppy sometimes, however. Apple fans: remember that unlike Samsung TVs these LG’s don’t possess the Apple TV iphone app yet, but Apple says it’s coming “later on” to LG and other platforms.
LG B9 makes OLED style and display quality more affordable
The feature-packed B9 includes almost everything that matters in today’s TV. LG says the brand new A9 Gen 2 chip — included on the C9 however, not on the B9 — includes a “deep learning algorithm” that, among other claims, better adjusts the picture for room lighting. In my own tests I didn’t see any real improvement from “AI” stuff, however.
Most of LG’s 2019 OLED models are the latest version of the HDMI standard: 2.1. Which means their HDMI ports are designed for 4K at 120fps, support increased audio tracks return channel (eARC) and two gamer-friendly extras: variable refresh rate (VRR) and programmed low latency mode (ALLM, or auto game mode). Have a look at HDMI 2.1: What you ought to know for details. I didn’t test these features yet because of this review.
Talking about VRR, the B9 will lose out on LG’s support for the Nvidia G-Sync standard — an attribute reserved for the C9 and E9 series only. If that counts for you, hardcore gamer, then you will most probably want a C9 instead.
Selecting connections is top-notch. Unlike a lot of Samsung’s sets, that one actually comes with an analog video input for legacy (non-HDMI) devices, though it no more supports analog component video. New for 2019 there’s a dedicated headphone/analog audio tracks output and WISA wireless music support.