As we’ve seen time and time again, newer OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs tend to top our charts due to their incredible contrast and vivid colors. That’s why our #1 TV is the LG G6, a 4K OLED with an innovative design aesthetic. But because the tech is still new, it comes with a double-take price.
The LG E6 Series (MSRP: $499) is a step down from the flagship G6, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect great things. The 65-inch E6 is not just a futuristic 4K OLED, it’s also classed as “HDR Pro,” meaning it’s compatible with both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision content formats.
Time with the E6 proved one thing: you don’t need to be a flagship to offer flagship performance. While it may not have quite the same fancy design as the LG’s flagship G6 “Signature” series, the E6 is essentially its equal in terms of picture quality, making the svelte design and webOS 3.0 platform feel like icing on the cake.
It’s still not a cheap option at $499, but it’s easily one of the best TVs we’ve ever tested, bested only by its slightly more posh big brother. If you’ve got the clams, the E6 is a sure thing.
ABOUT THE E6 SERIES
The two TVs in the E6 series are essentially identical save for their screen sizes. Both are HDR-capable 4K OLED TVs that come equipped with the webOS 3.0 smart platform. Unlike most of LG’s previous OLEDs, neither of the E6 TVs are curved. In fact, not only are both flat-screened, but they are some of the thinnest displays around, with an edge thickness that’s about the width of a pencil.
Both TVs also deliver four HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 compliant HDMI inputs—the specifications you’ll need to play 4K/UHD content from an external device—and a design that integrates a soundbar-like speaker system, similar to the flagship G6 series. However, unlike the G6, the E6 OLEDs still use traditional flat tabletop stands, and the connectivity options are on the back of the TV rather than integrated into the base.
Here are the core specs for the LG E6 series (OLED65E6P & OLED55E6P):
• 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution
• WRGB OLED panel technology
• webOS 3.0 smart platform
• HDR10 & Dolby Vision compatible
• Picture-on-Glass design
• Cinematic Color
• Four HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 compatible inputs
We received the 65-inch E6 (OLED65E6P) on-loan from LG, and I spent a two week review period watching content and performing lab evaluations. I ran the TV for about 50 hours prior to any meter-based testing (not including the power cycling time to avoid OLED screen burn) and performed a full factory reset once it was assembled.
WHAT WE LIKE
The E6 delivers the contrast and color to let HDR movies shine.
If there’s one constant about OLED TVs—other than the high price—it’s that these sets consistently deliver excellent contrast performance and color saturation. Because OLED TVs are “emissive” displays and don’t have a backlight element, every pixel emits its own light and color.
In short, this means that when an OLED produces shadows, it can turn those pixels completely, creating true darkness. This yields massive contrast levels, and it’s the kind of thing you can see right away when you watch an OLED TV.
The E6 is, naturally, just as efficacious as past OLEDs in this manner. In fact, because it’s inheriting many of the improvements we saw during our off-site review of the flagship G6 4K OLED, the E6 actually boasts better contrast than many past OLEDs. One reason for this improvement is because the E6 plays High Dynamic Range content—HDR10 and Dolby Vision—which requires higher brightness and more color saturation.
As you might expect, the E6 is also capable of oodles of color. This “wide color gamut” appearance outpaces the TVs of yesteryear because it does more than simply push the primary color points as far as they’ll go; it also increases the color that’s present in subtler middle tones and low-light elements, making for a much richer picture overall.
While you’ll need to watch HDR content to get the most out of the E6, the heightened contrast and color performance geared to make HDR look the way it should isn’t wasted on non-HDR content, either. Overall, this is a brighter, more colorful OLED than any of LG’s 2015 sets, no matter what you’re watching.
This TV has a sleek, finely crafted design and aesthetic.
I’ll be the first to admit that early OLED TVs, while impressively thin, weren’t always breaking the mold in terms of design. But LG’s 2016 efforts to redesign and simplify the OLED TV aesthetic have gone a long way. Like the flagship G6, the E6 series delivers a design that’s above-and-beyond the usual TV.
Most striking is LG’s new “Picture-on-Glass” design, which sees the OLED panel printed right onto a sturdy-but-thin sheet of glass. This gives the E6 a certain amount of tensile strength (compared to previous OLEDs) without sacrificing the now famed super-thin profile or adding unwanted filigree.
The E6 features LG’s new “Picture-on-Glass” design aesthetic, and sits upon a traditional stand. It can also be mounted on the wall.
Like most OLEDs, the E6 is extremely thin at its edges, featuring a panel that’s printed directly onto a sturdy pane of glass.
The decorative base houses a 2.1-channel, 40-watt speaker system that’s a notable improvement over standard TV speakers.
The included Magic Remote is bigger and sturdier than in past years, but still operates via an on-screen cursor.
The E6 included four HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 inputs, three USB inputs, and standard component/composite, coaxial, and external audio jacks.
Unlike the G6, however, the E6 doesn’t affix all of its electronic components into a transforming soundbar base. It still wields a (permanently attached) soundbar-like speaker system, but also ships with a separate flat tabletop stand. Likewise, the connectivity options—HDMI, USB, and the like—are in more traditional spots on the rear and side of the TV.
Like the flagship G6, the E6 has received a bunch of improvements to core performance.
The first couple generations of OLEDs sometimes had issues with what’s called “uniformity,” and one with gamma, the allocation of luminance to darker/brighter areas on screen. The main uniformity issue was a type of luminance vignetting, where the edges of the screen were notably darker than the center. This problem would be very visible and notable when the TV was first out of the box, inciting heavy complaints from new owners and videophiles.
While the vignetting cleared up eventually, it usually took anywhere between 100-200 hours of use, requiring owners to undergo periods of erroneous use and cycling to avoid OLED screen burn.
With the flagship G6 and other 2016 4K OLEDs, LG engineered a smart fix. The company told me during our review of the flagship OLED that it had simply allocated more luminance to the edges of the screen to create a more even light uniformity. The E6 enjoys this same improvement, and vignetting was all but imperceptible out of the box.
The other issue has also been improved, in the same manner as the G6. Originally, because they go from “off” to “on” states, early OLEDs struggled to consistently produce the lowest above-black shadow details at the right amount of light. They were either too dim or too bright, jumping the gun in terms of luminance. But because the E6 is notably brighter (to assist in HDR representation), the overall voltage control is likely stronger, which makes this aberration much easier to avoid.
The speakers make for better-than-average sound.
The LG E6 boasts a 2.2-channel, 40-watt audio solution that’s a notable improvement over the standard 20-watt, down-firing speakers found in the standard TV.
The built-in sound system isn’t quite on the level of a standard external soundbar, however, and it doesn’t compare to a fully integrated surround sound system. But it certainly brings additional clarity and volume compared to the average set of TV speakers.
This TV may be an HDR set, but it does a great job handling non-HDR content.
One issue current HDR TV makers face is with backward compatibility with non-HDR content. While it’d be pretty ludicrous to put out an HDR TV that didn’t play “standard” dynamic range content, there’s the issue of reigning in the TV’s extra luminance and color to not only play SDR movies and TV shows, but to make them look accurate and as-intended.
Fortunately, LG’s E6 does a stellar job of this. I tested the defaults for the Expert(Dark Room) picture mode, and found that the TV matched the old color standards, luminance allocation (gamma) standards, and RGB/grayscale accuracy standards with aplomb. Even more so, it was extremely easy to calibrate for traditional “theater” appearance, and iron out any small errors. The CMS and White Balance controls work flawlessly.
Because the TV’s HDR playback is separate from non-HDR, it also wouldn’t be difficult to calibrate two modes (for day/night viewing) without clipping the TV’s HDR performance. Just don’t try to do too much with the Vivid and Standard modes. Like most retail/power save picture modes, they’re not very accurate, and you’ll miss out on crucial picture details.
Love action movies or fast-paced sports? You’ve come to the right place.
Like most high-end TVs, the 65-inch E6 is fully equipped to handle whatever kind of content you throw at it. 24fps Blu-rays? Check. 30 Hz broadcast football? Double-check. 4K @ 60fps on YouTube? Yep. There’s de-judder/telecine and de-blur options that are quite easy to play around with and configure until you have everything looking the way you want it.
If you’re a gamer, you’ll be pleased to know we measured roughly the same input lag results from the E6 as we did with the G6—somewhere between 31 and 34 ms average. While it’s not the fastest TV you can game on, the E6’s Game mode is good enough for the wide majority of gamers (assuming you’re outputting 1080p or more). There are definitely TVs with less input lag out there, but this is still a decent result.
Like other OLEDs, the E6 has terrific viewing angles.
Like every other OLED I’ve ever tested, the E6 has great vertical and horizontal off-angle viewing. The emissive screen and high brightness allow it to be watched without contrast loss or color shifting from much wider angles than the average LCD. This—combined with the TV’s super-thin profile—makes it a prime candidate for wall-mounting, as you can watch it from almost anywhere.
The E6 has some of the best at-home 3D I’ve seen.
When 3D is done right, it’s awesome—but it’s almost never done right. Because you’re wearing polarized 3D glasses, the 3D experience was always a bit undercooked in the past. The glasses made everything darker, and cut resolution in half for each eye.
But with the E6—and other HDR 4K OLEDs—3D is exciting again. Because it’s brighter than the average TV, emits no luminance during shadow/black production, and boasts four times the resolution of 1080p sets, the E6 does serious justice to the waning 3D format. While I wouldn’t call it a reason to buy this TV specifically, it’s a huge bonus if you like to catch the occasional tri-dimensional flick.
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
Sub-1080p content looks less than stellar.
Like the flagship G6, the LG E6 takes big steps towards pushing TV and movie content into the next generation of picture quality. It’s brighter, more colorful, and smoother than previous OLEDs. While not nearly as bright as LED-based HDR TVs like the Vizio RS65 or Sony X930D, the TV’s overall contrast is aces.
It’s enough of a step forward that it occasionally lays bare the poor aging inherent to older content formats. Things in standard definition (some cable/satellite) feeds, and older video games look a little worse for wear here, though it’s mostly compressed, over-the-air content that suffers.
webOS 3.0 feels kind of sluggish and choked compared to the higher end G6.
When I used the webOS 3.0 platform on the G6, it ran without a hitch, rendering 4K and full-HD content on apps like Netflix and YouTube even on a standard WiFi signal. By comparison, my first experiences with the E6 left me pretty unimpressed.
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the LG Content Store all needed instant updates, and even then the TV struggled to first access those updates and then to download them. Watching the usual sample of Costa Rican wildlife in 4K resolution on YouTube proved impossible.
Fortunately, the major hiccups cleared up after a couple of days, though the E6 never did feel quite as snappy and efficacious as its big brother, the G6. While the difference would only be notable if you’d used both TVs, it’s also worth bringing up simply because this TV is so expensive.
Don’t expect the brightness you get from HDR-ready LED TVs.
It’s worth mentioning, since overall light output (or luminance) is so important to High Dynamic Range, that potential buyers shouldn’t expect the same decadent levels of light from the E6 as you might get from a LED-backlight based LCD that’s spec’d for HDR—namely, sets like the Vizio Reference Seriesor Sony X930D.
That’s not to say the E6 is dim. In fact, after the G6 it’s the brightest OLED I’ve tested. But because it’s an OLED, it still has to use a process called “Auto Brightness Limiting” (or ABL), dynamically lowering the luminance of its peak production as more of the screen gets brighter. This can occasionally make for a slightly dimmer appearance than most consumers are used to, especially if you’re watching one of the more accurate modes like Cinema or Expert (Dark Room) in a room that isn’t actually dark.
While the E6 can handle almost any lighting while it’s playing brighter, more color-rich HDR content, you’ll probably want to watch non-HDR stuff in a dark, home theater-style setup to really appreciate the details (and get the most out of the incredible black level). That said, if you really can’t dim the lights, it’s plenty bright in Vivid mode—just not nearly as accurate.
If you’re looking for numbers, we measured the TV’s peak output at 2%, 10%, 20%, and 50% windows. While the flagship G6 exceeded the 540 nit standard for “Premium HDR” certification, the E6 does not. I measured 232 nits, 400 nits, 400 nits, and 397 nits for those windows. While this is pretty bright for an OLED, it’s a clear indicator of why the flagship G6 is a little pricier.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Yes—if mind-blowing picture quality is on your bucket list.
If owning a super impressive TV that’s perfectly suited to the content of both today and tomorrow is on your bucket list, the E6 is a stellar choice. The inimitable OLED technology spruced up with 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range makes for one of the most impressive TVs we’ve ever seen, and that’s not to mention the sleek design and great features.
Videophiles will be especially pleased with how LG has handled the technology’s more eccentric issues like vignetting (darkening at the edges of the screen), image retention, brightness limiting, and low-luminance clarity. While OLED is still not perfect, the E6—like the flagship G6—is leaps and bounds ahead of the first few generations, delivering nearly flawless picture quality.
With the 55-inch E6 starting at $499 and the 65-inch swooping up to $499, there’s no denying that 4K OLED TVs still aren’t for everyone. But if you’ve got the deep pockets for this TV, you’ll be glad you sprung for it. Whether on a stand or on the wall, playing a classic Blu-ray or the latest 4K HDR footage, the E6 is a prize performer. And every year, LG’s OLEDs seem to drop in price considerably after a few months on the market, so even if you can’t afford it yet, don’t be afraid to window shop.