Hands on: LG 55EM960V OLED TV review

Meet the most impressive TV on the planet

OLED TVs were the big story of CES - and the LG 55EM960V was OLED's crowning glory

Although TVs using Organic LED technology have gone on sale before, they've all been puny in size and ridiculously expensive.

But the biggest TV story from this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was that big-screen OLED TVs are finally coming to market.

And on the evidence of LG's 55EM960V, they can't arrive soon enough.

The 55EM960V has a 55-inch screen (built, astonishingly, onto the front of a mere 4mm of rear depth), meaning that really for the first time the world has got the chance to appreciate just what OLED is truly capable of, rather than having to squint admiringly at 11-inch or 15-inch screens.

LG 55em960v oled tv

The results truly are jaw-dropping.

Even in the less than friendly viewing environment of a crowded show floor there's so much good stuff about the 55EM960V's pictures that it's hard to know where to start.

While showing some footage of Vancouver by night, the screen's contrast is quite astonishing. At one end of the light spectrum the screen presents black colours of a richness, intensity and purity that just hasn't been seen before on a flat-panel TV - not even Pioneer's legendary KURO plasmas.

LG 55em960v oled tv

Yet within the same frame you've got ultra-pure, perfectly defined whites and a dizzying array of colour tones in between.

Shifting to more colourful daylight footage, the screen's remarkable colour response is even more spectacularly obvious, revealing outstanding subtlety and range as well as explosive vibrancy that punches through the CES showfloor lighting as if it's not even turned on.

Then there's the image's sharpness. The HD footage on show actually looks more akin to 4k-resolution fare so pure its presentation; so free is it of LCD's usual motion blur; and so incredibly rich are the set's shadow detail levels.

LG 55em960v oled tv

Dark areas look completely consistent in tone too, with no backlight clouding, and the image holds up much better from a wide viewing angle than typical LCD TVs.

The only flaw with the 2D image was a faint horizontal 'seam' across the screen about half an inch down from its top edge. Though there seems little reason to suspect that this will appear on final production samples when the TV goes on sale for an as yet unconfirmed price.

Some 3D enthusiasts might be concerned to learn that the 55EM960V uses passive 3D technology rather than full HD active 3D. And it is indeed true that you can occasionally see faint horizontal line structure from the filter when you're watching 3D.

But the lack of crosstalk, rich colours and high brightness of the 55EM960V's 3D images still make it a very compelling 3D proposition.

The 55EM960V isn't going to be cheap when it finally comes out. But so far as many people who witnessed it in action at the CES, the fact that it's not going to go on sale until the latter part of 2012 is good news, as it just means they've got longer to save up for what was arguably the show's single most impressive AV product.

John Archer
AV Technology Contributor

John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.