LG OLED TVs get ‘Perfect Black’ verification – confirming what I already knew

LG OLED TV in bright room with company reps showing perfect black specification sign
(Image credit: LG Display)

LG Display, sister company of LG Electronics, has announced that the OLED panels used in the company’s TVs recently received “Perfect Black” verification. The verification process was carried out by independent quality assurance lab UL Solutions and it applies to LG’s OLED panels ranging from 42 to 97 inches.

LG’s TVs were measured by UL Solutions in a “brightly illuminated environment” similar to a “living room in broad daylight.” In this situation, black levels measured 0.15 nit – around 40 percent lower than the standard Perfect Black criteria of 0.24 nit, according to the company’s release.

None more black 

OLED TVs rank among the best 4K TVs and have long been known for their “infinite contrast,” a capability that LG has promoted since the first sets to use the technology were released. Anyone who has laid eyes on an OLED TV can confirm that the blacks do indeed look perfectly black, and they remain that way even when viewing images from a far off-center seat.

As for the measurements cited in LG Display’s press release, once you dip beneath 1 nit, any differences are basically moot. To the human eye, a 0.24 nit black level and a 0.15 nit one will both appear as a perfect black. 

Given these miniscule differences, the main goal of LG’s verification process appears to be about proving its OLED displays can retain their incredibly deep black level, and resulting infinite contrast, in bright environments, rather than the dim ones preferred by movie fans – the ones who are more likely to pay extra money for the best OLED TVs.

LG G2 Gallery OLED TV displaying colorful artwork

LG's G2 OLED evo TV, the company's brightest OLED model yet. (Image credit: Best Buy)

Analysis: the living room battle between OLED and mini-LED is heating up 

Why is LG suddenly boasting about OLED’s incredible black level performance, something that we already very well knew to be the case? The likely reason is that mini-LED QLED TVs are gaining market share, especially with more affordable models like those from TCL and Hisense thrown into the mix along with Samsung, Sony, and also LG’s more premium offerings.

Mini-LED TVs are able to achieve the same infinite contrast as OLED, but do so by modulating zones in their backlight using a process called local dimming. To display deep black shadows, LEDs in the specific zone where they appear can be fully switched off.

OLED TVs, in contrast, are self-emissive – each pixel in the display is its own light source. The individual pixels in the TV can also be fully switched off, as well as modulated to display a very low black level. This capability gives it an edge over regular LED and also mini-LED TVs, where backlight bleed can appear in high contrast images, yielding a visual artifact called “blooming.”

Even with this limitation, mini-LED TVs are capable of near-OLED-like black levels with infinite contrast, and the best models manage to keep blooming to a minimum – so much so that most viewers wouldn’t notice it. They are also capable of delivering much higher peak brightness than OLED, with even inexpensive models like the Hisense U8H we reviewed measuring twice as bright as an average OLED. 

High brightness is the key thing that matters in a typical living room environment, and here mini-LED QLED TVs offer a distinct advantage over OLED. To put LG’s somewhat odd announcement into perspective, the company seems to be trying to communicate that OLED will continue to do what it does best even in a bright room.

I can’t say it’s a statement that’s as clear as black and white. But when it comes to the black part, message received.

Al Griffin
Senior Editor Home Entertainment, US

Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine. 

When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.